The 10th Only Watch edition at the heart of the storm

Published - by Maëlle Detton

While round-the-world watches Only Watch are about to make their stopover in Singapore to be presented to the public at retailer Malmaison by The Hour Glass, recent events have disrupted the progress of the 10th edition of the charity project.

Thunder for the auction

It all began on October 4, just one month before the big charity auction, when the first financial questions, and with them a number of concerns, emerged on the networks. The controversy was sparked by the intervention of one of the world's leading watch collectors, from Singapore, Santa Laura (@santa_laura on Instagram).

A growing controversy

It was via his Instagram account that the collector addressed the organizers, asking them to explain the distribution of the charitable funds raised and, more precisely, how they contributed to research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the main cause of the Monegasque Muscular Dystrophy Association, behind the Only Watch project.

Following the organization's refusal to publish its annual financial report filed with the government of Monaco, the collector was soon joined in his quest for the truth by other players in the watchmaking world, such as De Bethune, cautiously encouraging transparent communication regarding the attribution of the 100 million euros raised since the first edition.

Santa Laura Instagram story

The Only Watch Answer

The organization was quick to respond online with a series of stories posted on its Instagram account and in which Only Watch endeavors to give more details about its involvement and fundraising in support of research, mentioning in particular the clinical trial AVANCE 1developed by biotech company SQY Therapeutics.

In order to reassure its community, the organization also announces that it has already taken the necessary steps with the firm KPGM Monaco and its associate Bettina Ragazzoni, with the aim of carrying out a financial audit and thus being able to certify and publish accounts of the charity.

Only Watch Instagram stories

These "instagramesque" justifications are hard to convince, and the questions keep coming. Faced with the scale of the situation and its possible unfortunate consequences, an open letter signed by the association's President and project founder, Luc Pettavino, was sent to the entire Only Watch community on October 8. In it, he denounced "serious accusations out of touch with reality" and detailed the association's support for research projects over the last ten years.

The founder closes his letter by tackling the thorny subject of shareholding in biotech SQY Therapeutics, by majority (51%) made up of individuals such as parents and representatives of patient associations, including Pettavino himself, with the remaining 49% held by the association. The sole purpose of this distribution is to enable the company to benefit from a special status, and to obtain certain reductions in social security contributions and research tax credits. It is stated that "no dividends have been or will be paid" to shareholders, insisting on the importance of protecting the company's capital non-profit orientation in biotech.

Divided opinion

Despite this second attempt at clarification, the press release does not answer all the questions posed by collector and whistleblower Santa Laura, who criticizes Pettavino for failing to address certain issues, such as the role of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Synthena AG (a subsidiary of SQY Therapeutics), the members of its Board of Directors and their remuneration. Some see this as a way of "drowning out the fish", and are urging the sale to be postponed until the audit reports are published.

Audemars Piguet steps back

On October 18, a wave of amazement swept over visitors to the organization's official website. Error 404: the sixth place in the Only Watch 2023 catalog was no more. Audemars Piguet, loyal to the charity event since its inception, withdraws its unique piece in white ceramic from the sale, making it the first house to publicly disassociate itself from the project.

While no official statement has yet been made by the brand, this decision intensifies the ill wind that has been blowing over the 10th edition for several weeks, and inevitably foreshadows further withdrawals to come...

Not to mention the fact that Patek Philippe, the manufacture emblematic of the charity project's sales history, has yet to unveil its timepiece to the general public. So it's not hard to imagine the discussions that are taking place at the famous Genevan company in these turbulent times.

Reaffirmed support

Although this news has shaken the project organization and its founder to the core, the latter can count on the support of some of his partners. These include François-Paul Journe the founder of the company of the same name and a pillar of the initiative, who announced that he was "reiterating his total confidence in Luc Pettavino", and wishes to pursue its commitment for medical charity by standing by Only Watch.

F.P. Journe Instagram post

Only Watch, pressed for time

Despite repeated appeals from the public, Luc Pettavino and his team appear to have no intention of postponing the charity sale scheduled for November 5 in Geneva. But they are undoubtedly going through the biggest crisis in their project's history.

Indeed, with only a few weeks to go before the event, it is becoming more than urgent to allay doubts and manage this investigation professionally and without delay. Let's hope that a positive outcome can be achieved, and that the primary objective of this charitable initiative - to support medical research - can once again be fulfilled.


What is Only Watch?


Only Watch is a charity watch auction held every two years, with proceeds going to the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies, an organization dedicated to research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy.


Who is Santa Laura ?


Santa Laura is a watch collector from Singapore. He is one of the people behind the questions posted on social networks about the distribution of funds raised by Only Watch.


What is SQY Therapeutics?


SQY Therapeutics is a biotechnology company created by the parents of myopathic boys and researchers. SQY Therapeutics is dedicated to clinical research and development for genetic diseases, in particular Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The company is 51% owned by individuals, including Luc Pettavino, and 49% by the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies.


What's wrong with Only Watch?


The organization is criticized for a lack of transparency regarding the distribution of funds raised from charity sales and the consequences of the founder's shareholding in biotech companies, as well as a lack of public audit reports.

About the author

Maëlle Detton


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