Rare watch owned by China’s last Emperor sets auction record

A Patek Philippe Ref 96 Quantieme Lune timepiece once owned by Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the last emperor of the Chinese Qing dynasty (R), is seen on display in Hong Kong on May 23, 2023, ahead of an auction in the region. . On the same day.—AFP

A luxury watch that was once owned by the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Aisin Gyuro Peui, and was the inspiration for the movie “The Last Emperor,” has sold for a staggering $6.2 million at a live auction in Hong Kong.

The exclusive Patek Philippe timepiece was bought by an Asian collector over the phone after a six-minute bidding session. London-based auction house Phillips, which managed the sale, revealed that the price was a new record for both an Emperor’s wristwatch and the Patek Philippe Reference 96 Quantum Loan, of which only eight exist.

Thomas Perazzi, head of watches for Asia at Philips, expressed his delight at the result, highlighting the extensive three-year research process that confirmed the watch’s authenticity. The auction result further cements Hong Kong’s reputation as a leading center for fine watches and highly collectible timepieces.

The 86-year-old watch was meticulously authenticated by an international team of researchers, who revealed that Poe had given it to his Russian translator, Georgy Permyakov, while imprisoned in the Soviet Union after World War II. The circumstances of how the watch came into Puy’s possession are still unclear.

Patek Philippe watches have long been sought after by collectors, with the Swiss manufacturer’s one-of-a-kind Grandmaster Chime becoming the world’s most expensive watch at auction in 2019, selling for $31.2 million. .

According to John Ng, a famous independent watchmaker in Hong Kong, sales of the emperor’s watch could lead to a new trend. He believes that smaller and more complicated timepieces will gain more attention in light of the current popularity of large, simple watches.

In addition to the watch, the Hong Kong auction included other items belonging to Puyi, including a manuscript notebook, a leather-bound edition of Confucius’ “Analects” and a red paper fan inscribed by Puyi. Presented to Permyakov in Tokyo. These items fetched significant prices at auction, with the fan selling for $77,846 and two other items fetching a total of $121,634, well above their pre-sale estimates.

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