Editor’s note: For nearly a decade now we have curiously anticipated the Only Watch Auction. The 2021 edition doesn’t disappoint! While watches earlier this year had a green theme, this year’s Auction watches seem to have an orange theme. Following the releases from Watches & Wonders 2021, today we present the new MB&F Only Watch 2021 HM10 Panda. Here’s our preview and the Gut Reaction Review (Grr…). For our standard detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
Updated on 20/09/2021. New pictures and another reaction.
To say that last year’s MB&F HM10 Bulldog is my favourite watch from the brand is an understatement. It is perhaps one of the best wrist devices ever, and one of the few watches I was very proud to go hands-on with last year. But the new MB&F Only Watch 2021 HM10 Panda changes that. It’s taking me a moment to realise this, but the new HM10 Panda might just be my new favourite.
MB&F’s rendezvous with animals always leaves me high spirited. I have ‘jumped’ out of my seat while looking at the MB&F HM3 Frog. I have ‘growled’ in excitement when looking at the MB&F Bulldog. And now, I am ‘fawning in cute-excitement’ — yes, that’s an expression now — while looking at the sketches of the new MB&F Only Watch 2021 HM10 Panda.
It’s more than simply horological innovation; it manages to draw in emotions and sentiments into the mix. It’s ‘horological-expressionism’ — yes, that too is now a legit expression — at its best.
In stark contrast to the ‘Bulldog’, it is a watch that one feels like cuddling. If the 2020 HM10 was a beast, then the 2021 HM10 is a beauty. And given it’s for the auction to help children suffering from muscular dystrophy, what better homage to the idea than to release a timepiece that children would actually love.
This may be a strong statement, considering I haven’t gone hands-on with it, but the new MB&F Only Watch 2021 HM10 Panda is definitely my favourite from this year’s 53 Only Watch releases.
It is a lacquered black and white timepiece, and appears to be a highly realistic version of a panda suited for a wrist: the attention to detail is incredible, thanks to the black ceramic Grade 5 silicon nitride ball ‘tail’ and the black titanium ears. The watch comes on a hand-stitched black and white strap with one side in black and the other in white.
Measuring 45mm across, 54mm from nose to tail and with a maximum height of 24mm, just like the HM10 ‘Bulldog’, this stainless steel and titanium cased panda should fit even slimmer wrists quite well (and works fine on my nearly 16cm wrist).
A Second Gut reaction Based on New Imagery
You are camping, secluded, after being whisked away on a very exclusive private glamping vacay. It’s a quiet morning. As you sleepily open your eyes, bright green foliage soothes your first light. Suddenly, the leaves rustle. You get cautious. You see a black, circular object moving slowly. You call your butler for aide. The rustling continues. Slowly the black, circular object gets closer, and you see it is a tiny part attached to a massive, heaving, body of black and white. But as it comes out of the foliage, you heave a sigh of relief, and smile. It is what you came to this camp for. It’s a panda.
And in a sense of familiarity, you look at your wrist, and there proudly sits another panda, the new MB&F Only Watch 2021 HM10 Panda.
When we had first previewed this timepiece, it was solely based on some sketches of the new MB&F Only Watch 2021 HM10 Panda. Now, the brand has released actual phots of the timepiece, and if I was impressed then, I can only say that I am left spellbound. It’s a ripper, and for once I perhaps am saying the words I thought I would never say for a watch – ‘it’s sooo cute!”.
In the actual images, there is a much more life-like quality to the watch, almost as if it’s alive. The creative prowess of the brand (and its Friends) is on full display here, and this exceptional three-dimensional quality is perhaps its best feature.
This release is not without precedence though: in 2011, MB&F released the HM4 Piece Unique for this auction in collaboration with Chinese artist Huang Hankang. The watch was nicknamed the ‘flying panda’, and also featured a black and white cuddly panda sculpture.
The HM10 Panda is being offered together with unique works of art by multidisciplinary designer Lee Yuen-Rapati who has created a series of illustrations inspired by the HM10 Panda specially for the auction.
In regards to the charity, 54 brands are participating this year for the 9th edition — the first one was in 2005 — of the biennial charity auction Only Watch, whose aim is to raise funds for research against Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
This auction has raised more than 70 million Euros — the 2019 edition raised CHF 38’593’000 — so far and has enabled scientists to continue their research.
The lots will go on a small world tour — unfortunately, and surprise surprise, Australia is not a part of it — and then auctioned in collaboration with Christie’s on 6 November 2021, at 2pm (Geneva time), at the Four Seasons Hôtel des Bergues.
The apparent — from a majority of the releases across the 54 brands — albeit unofficial orange theme for this year’s Only Watch Auction is not vividly expressed on the new MB&F Only Watch 2021 HM10 Panda, but I for one am not complaining. The horological kinetic art timepiece is beautiful as it is, though maybe the numerals on the ‘eyes’ could have been in orange instead of white.
The HM10 Panda Only Watch Pièce Unique features a manual winding in-house movement featuring a bespoke flying 14mm balance wheel with four traditional regulating screws floating above the domed dials. It beats at the low frequency of 2.5Hz (18’000 A/h). It comprises 34 jewels, features 301 components and boasts a decent 45-hour power reserve.
Other specifications from the press release:
Top section: stainless steel, with 5 pockets of black lacquer and 2 pockets of white lacquer (each with 3 layers of colour and 7 layers of varnish)
Bottom section: Grade 5 titanium, with Preci-Coat matt black PVD. Specially engraved with Only Watch signature: “Only Watch – create beauty to do good”
Lugs: Grade 5 titanium with Preci-Coat matt black PVD.
Ears: Grade 5 titanium, fused to the sapphire crystal dome with Asulab bonding.
Tail: Ceramic (Grade 5 silicon nitride sphere)
Water-resistance: 50m (5 ATM)
The watch face shows hours on the left dome (aluminium dome rotating in 12 hours), minutes on the right dome (aluminium dome rotating in 60 minutes), and the power reserve is indicated in 3D by the opening and closing of the jaws.
“For me, Only Watch is not a marketing stunt or a feel-good operation; we are intimately linked to the story of Luc, Paul, and all the other kids who suffer from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.”MB&F Founder Max Büsser
That’s All Folks!
Pandas are living examples of why stereotype (and racism) makes no sense: it is black, white and Asian at the same time, and despite eating ‘only greens’, it’s still chubby.
In the same essence, the new MB&F Only Watch 2021 HM10 Panda is an embodiment of how watchmaking stereotypes can be challenged now and then; it’s nothing like a traditional time-only gold watch but excels by forming its own identity. It takes polar-opposing elements that come from the differing fields on pure watchmaking and kinetic art, and presents a timepiece that is same same but different.
Like the HM10 Bulldog, the new MB&F Only Watch 2021 HM10 Panda is an artistic, futuristic and fun timepiece, suited for a worthy cause, and an idiosyncratic talent of pure mechanical genius.
And in true testament to the age old joke about how a panda ‘eats shoots and leaves’, the new HM10 Panda eats similar watches for breakfast, shoots the traditional watchmaking concepts into oblivion, and allows one lucky bidder at the auction to leave with a timepiece truly emotion arousing.
To find out more about the new MB&F Only Watch 2021 HM10 Panda and other Only Watch auction timepieces, please head to the ONLY WATCH 2021 collection website here. All images unless otherwise specified are © MB&F SA 2018. All basic information Copyright © Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies. Make sure to check out our reviews of Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.