Bell & Ross has quite literally pushed the boat out for this year’s Only Watch charity auction, producing a pirate themed bronze watch that looks like it has been submerged deep in the briny for the past two centuries.
According to B&R’s somewhat rum soaked version of events, the treasured watch has been sought after for exactly 200 years. For it was in 1815 that pirate Bartholomew Hawkins’ ship, the Black Wind, sank off the coast of Monaco. That was the year that the Principality, which had been annexed by France in 1793 following the Revolution, finally had its independence restored.
Having resisted numerous attacks by the Genoese, the Aragonese and the Berbers over the course of its long history, Monaco was once again the subject of covetous interest. It was said that the beautiful mansions of this corner of paradise hid vast fortunes. For this reason, Captain Hawkins had decided to lie in ambush off the coast, ready to attack any boat that could be carrying gold.
Marauding aside, Hawkins was said to be a man of good taste. He had created for himself an extraordinary watch using a fragment of bronze from a cannon seized from an enemy. The timepiece, decorated with gold, housed a fabulous movement, which had been conceived several years earlier, in 1801: the tourbillon.
Bart Hawkins chose to adorn the watch with the famous pirate’s emblem, the "Jolly Roger" skull and cross bones, that fluttered atop the mast of his ship. Legend has it that he wore it at every sea battle, habitually checking it before giving the order to fire a salvo of cannonballs or launch a boarding action.
However, accomplished as he was, there was one thing that even a great pirate could not control: the vagaries of the weather. As he prowled the seas, a violent storm erupted suddenly, battering and tossing his ship on the waves. The circumstances surrounding the shipwreck remain unknown, but debris found after on the shore revealed that the Black Wind had sunk virtually without trace, taking with it the captain and his legendary watch.
Since then, countless treasure seekers have tried to locate the wreck. Their efforts have all been in vain. That was until this year, when a team of divers happened upon a strange, black object lying at a depth of 60 meters, initially mistaking it for a rock. As they drew nearer, they realised they were looking at a ruptured hull. Entering the shell of the sunken vessel, they discovered what every treasure hunter dreams of finding: a lead box. Inside: maps, gold coins, diamond-studded jewellery and a watch, perfectly preserved. The watch of captain "Bart" Hawkins…
The watch is 46 mm housed in a square case in aged bronze, the skull is of hand-engraved solid gold. The watch is powered by a hand-wound movement with four complications (tourbillon, regulator, accuracy indicator and power reserve). The timepiece comes on a distressed brown alligator leather strap. A unique-piece, the BR 01 SKULL BRONZE TOURBILLON combines the sophistication of an exceptional mechanical movement, the time worn beauty of a bronze case from the past, and the provocative, symbolic resonance of the skull. The aged appearance is the result of bronze naturally adapting to its environment (temperature, humidity, friction, etc.). Without impacting the solidity and longevity of the material, this patina, which varies depending on the climate and the season, gives the BR 01 SKULL BRONZE TOURBILLON a particular coloring that makes each watch an absolutely unique piece.
Evoking the treasure chests of legend, the watch, to be auctioned in aid of the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (AMM) [Monaco Association against Muscular Dystrophy], will be presented in a box made from precious wood. In the center of the lid, a glass dome will allow admirers to gaze into the heart of the legend and marvel at the watch.
The charity auction
The 6th edition of the biannual charity auction of unique timepieces, in aid of research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, will be held in Geneva on November 7, 2015. The collection will be unveiled in Monaco for the Monaco Yacht Show, which runs from 23rd to 26th September 2015, and will then be exhibited in Europe, the USA and Asia.