The auction, which was started by Monégasque businessman Luc Pettavino after his son passed away from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, has raised millions intended for research to accelerate treatment of the rare genetic disease since 2005. The charity asks watchmakers—with nearly every heavyweight in the business participating from Patek Philippe to F.P. Journe—to make unique timepieces that it can sell to raise money for the cause. But questions regarding how the funds were distributed were raised in a recent article by WatchPro. Soon afterward, Audemars Piguet announced that it would not be participating in this year’s event while offering no further comment.
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For a refresher, the article pointed out that AMM—the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies, or The Monégasque Association Against Muscular Dystrophies—a charity founded by Pettavino, owned 49 percent of a company called SQY Therapeutics, the parent company of a biotech firm called Synthena. Roughly $50 million of the $100 million Only Watch raised has been held by AMM. After Robb Report commented on the developing story, Only Watch reached out to say that the funds are still in the charity’s bank accounts and “have been kept to face future steps of the clinical developments we are supporting that will necessitate tens of millions of EUR/CHF (namely Phases 2a 2b for SQY51 the molecule that is currently being tested in a safety trial, future steps for the development of other versions of the drugs to address other types of genetic flaws leading to Duchenne muscular dystrophy, compassionate access to the drug in the future…).”
The company then also sent over a simple document from the Société Général, a French financial group headquartered in Paris, signed by an official at the group’s branch in Monaco confirming that the funds were still held by AMM. “We will continue to move forward, providing even more information on the virtuous and extraordinary actions we have achieved thanks to this dynamic,” Pettavino said in a statement announcing the sale’s postponement on Monday. “The agility that characterizes us has enabled us to make exceptional progress. One of our greatest joys is knowing, as we write these lines, that a group of children and young adults have been included in a clinical trial made possible by the Only Watch funds. It’s tangible, concrete, and gives hope of a cure. That’s what’s important.” A third-party auditor will share the results of its investigation in the first trimester of 2024.
One watchmaker publicly came forward in support of Pettavino’s charity. François-Paul Journe stated on Instagram that he is standing behind the auction and the man who founded it adding that he has “total confidence in Luc Pettavino whom I know well and who is a remarkable man.” Similarly, a few top collectors, who did not want to be quoted, told Robb Report over the weekend at the annual WatchTime event in New York that they too had full confidence in Pettavino, adding that they found bidding on and winning timepieces at the auction was a positive, well-handled experience. Hopefully, Only Watch will be able to offer further transparency next year after the third-party audit with results that will allow this organization to get back to its purpose.
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