DRIVEN’s style chronicler Fernando Morales of  The Gentleman’s Topcoat recently checked in on NYC’s world-class watch auctioneer Antiquorum; here’s his-report:

In a room filled with the sweeping hands of horological prowess, we gathered for the 2011 Only Watch tour, orchestrated by Antiquorum and the Consulate General of Monaco.

We previewed the Principality of Monaco’s world famous charity auction taking place Friday

Kicking off on Friday, the Principality of Monaco will host the world famous charity auction for research support of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

We were invited to check out the watches and join the frontlines without fogging up the glass at Antiquorum‘s Madison Ave. HQ.

We are talking hands-on time with arm candy that could set you back further than your first wife.

Well maybe not, depending on your position in the food chain.

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First up of on our personal list of the Only Watch tour was the renowned Richard Mille RM027 Tourbillon (above).

A watch that defies all humanly perceived conventions of physics, weighing in at less than 13g without its already non-existent nylon strap.

Visible wear created by Rafael Nadal when he took the 2011 Monte Carlo Championship

A subtle reminder of its patronage, was the still visible wear created by Rafael Nadal when he took the 2011 Monte Carlo Championship by storm.

Also second to none was Blancpain‘s Villeret Grande Décoration (below), a unique piece specifically dedicated for the Only Watch cause on its case back.

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It’s artfully etched by master-engraver Marie-Laure Tarbouriech on the movement’s widended bridges to showcase her art.

The only watch to evade our grasp was the highly sought after Patek Philippe Ref. 3939, tourbillon and minute repeater – a truly unique piece for Only Watch.

MB&F’s Horological Machine No.4 Thunderbolt, capable of provoking the worst cases of whiplash

And with an estimate of €450,000 to €650,000 – about $895,000 – you probably don’t care that its pretty movement sits in a stainless steel case.

Designed to offer a nod to speed, and capable of provoking the worst cases of whiplash, is MB&F’s Horological Machine No.4 Thunderbolt (below and top).

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Right when you’d thought you had seen it all, you note the little panda piloting the pants off of this already unconventional approach to watchmaking.

The artist incorporated the detachable animal to symbolize the desire for freedom that the young lives afflicted by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy long for.

Antiquorum’s own expertly-curated collection of desirable and rare vintage watches

Distracting us from the modern incarnations of man’s quest for accuracy heavily-dosed with complication were the timepieces your dad and granddad came to love – the vintage watches.

Outside of the Only Watch line up was Antiquorum’s own expertly-curated collection of desirables and rarities (which brought in $2.8 million on Sept. 14).

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Among them we mandhandled the likes of the Rolex 6241 Daytona – aka the Paul Newman Daytona, and the 1655 Explorer II (above) – aka the Steve McQueen Explorer, along with a young Daytona with a prematurely color changing dial.

Of course, we couldn’t pass up the chance to sport the Paul Newman Daytona in a sprite 18k gold case (below).

We couldn’t pass up the chance to sport the Paul Newman Daytona in a sprite 18k gold case

As the evening wound to a closing, we afforded ourselves our last few minutes with a pristine 1969 Rolex Milgauss 1019, and the holy grail of Submariners, a 6539 Big Crown – more commonly known as the James Bond Sub (bottom photo).

On our wrist the 6539′s gilt hands played well with the faded lume and gave the watch a warm presence, a very nice reminder of its historical provenance and authentic place in a world of imitated heritage.

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As our gin and tonic reached the bottom of our glass, so had the hour, and we laid the timepieces to rest in their cases for greater destinations.

We bid our goodbyes and thank-yous and went on our way.

We laid the timepieces to rest in their cases for greater destinations

And while our wrist felt significantly heavier, we were comforted by the lightened burden Only Watch would bring to the efforts to defeat the disease.

Patrons of the Monaco auction would not only have the chance to walk away with a one-of-a-kind watch, but will also be able to say in all seriousness, “you know… for the kids.”


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All images by Fernando Morales / The Gentleman’s Topcoat for DRIVEN