Chinese emperor’s watch sold for $5 million at auction

A Patek Philippe watch that belonged to the last emperor of China, Puyi, sold on Tuesday for more than 5 million dollars at auction in Hong Kong. Estimated at 3 million dollars, this exceptional model sold after five minutes of bidding during the sale organized by the British house Phillips.

This reference 96 Quantième Lune watch was designed by the prestigious Geneva watchmaker Patek Philippe. It is decorated with a symbol representing a phase of the Moon and belonged to Aisin-Gioro Puyi, last emperor of the Qing dynasty, the last of the Chinese empire.

A historic watch

Enthroned emperor in 1908, Puyi was placed more than 20 years later by the Japanese at the head of the puppet state they had created in Manchuria after conquering it in the early 1930s. Taken prisoner by the Soviets in 1945 after the defeat of Japan, Puyi found himself in detention in a Soviet camp.

The Phillips auction house claims to have documents proving that Puyi took the watch with him in custody. According to the memoirs of the emperor’s nephew, this watch was a “personal object” of the deposed emperor, which he had given to his Soviet interpreter when leaving the camp. The latter had no idea of ​​the value of the object.

A “small” record

Thomas Perazzi, head of Phillips’ Asia watch department, said he was excited about the sale. According to him, this is the highest price ever reached by a Patek Philippe reference 96 during a sale. Currently, there are only “three known copies” of this series in the world, according to him.

Although steeped in history, Puyi’s watch is far from having reached the prodigious sums at which luxury timepieces have been sold. A Patek Philippe “Grandmaster Chime” watch was sold for $31 million in 2019. It is the most complicated wristwatch ever made by Patek Philippe, as it unites twenty complications.

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