Patek Philippe record auction
Watch of the last emperor of China from the Qing dynasty sold at a record auction for 6.2 million dollars
A watch that once belonged to the last emperor of China's Qing dynasty, whose life inspired the 1987 Academy Award-winning film 'The Last Emperor', has sold at auction for a record $49 million. Hong Kong ($6.2 million).
An Asian collector living in Hong Kong, made a telephone offer, bought the rare Patek Philippe Reference 96 Quantieme Lune watch which boasts a crown-shaped moon phase and which once belonged to the last emperor of China Aisin-Gioro Puyi .
The watch is one of the very few known examples of the Patek Philippe Reference 96 Quantieme Lune and was given by Puyi to his Russian interpreter when he was a prisoner of the Soviet Union, the auction house said. The prized timepiece easily surpassed its pre-sale estimate of $3 million.
The sale price, net of buyer's fees, was HK$40 million (US$5.1 million). Including buyer's fees, the total price came to approximately $6.2 million.
Born in 1906, Puyi was the last emperor of China's Qing dynasty, ascending the throne at the age of two and being forced to abdicate in 1912.
More than 20 years after his abdication, he was made the puppet leader of Japanese-occupied Manchuria, described by the South China Morning Post as a "puppet state set up by Japan after it invaded northeast China."
After Japan's defeat in World War II in 1945, Puyi was captured by the Soviet Red Army at Shenyang Airport in China. He was held as a prisoner of war and imprisoned for five years in a detention camp in Khabarovsk, Russia.
Back in China, he spent nearly 10 years in prison
After returning to China, Puyi spent nearly 10 years in prison. During this time, he underwent a "re-education" process and became involved in various agricultural and manual activities as part of his rehabilitation process.
In 1959, Puyi was released from prison due to his good behavior, and thereafter, he found a job as a gardener at the Beijing Botanical Garden. During this period, he lived a relatively quiet and isolated life away from politics and the public eye.
Over the next several years, Puyi began writing his memoirs and documenting his experience as emperor of China. In 1964, his autobiography entitled "From Emperor to Citizen" was published, which became very popular in China and abroad.
In the last years of his life, Puyi suffered from various health problems, including bladder cancer. He died on October 17, 1967, at the age of 61, due to complications related to the disease.
Despite the controversy and criticism surrounding his role as emperor during a tumultuous period in Chinese history, Puyi remains a figure of great historical and cultural interest. His life and experiences have been the subject of numerous books, films and works of art that seek to shed light on the complexities of his figure and his time.
Thomas Perazzi, head of watches at Phillips Asia auction house, told Reuters news agency that it was the "highest result" ever achieved for a wristwatch that belonged to an emperor.
Other emperor-owned watches sold at auction include a Patek Philippe watch that belonged to the last Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie, which sold for $2.9 million in 2017.
In addition to Puyi's Patek Philippe Reference 96 Quantieme Lune watch, other luxury watches were sold for record-breaking prices at various auctions.
In 2019, a Patek Philippe "Grandmaster Chime" watch sold for $31 million, thus setting the record as the most expensive watch ever sold at auction. This watch is considered one of the most complex creations ever made by Patek Philippe, with 20 complications including a perpetual calendar, alarms and a chronograph.
Another highly valuable watch was the Rolex that belonged to the last emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai, which sold for $5 million in 2017. This Rolex is a rare and unique model, with a black dial and diamonds set in the hour markers.
These examples demonstrate how luxury watches, especially those with a unique history and provenance, can fetch record-breaking prices at international auctions. They are coveted by collectors and enthusiasts who wish to own unique and significant pieces in the history of haute horlogerie.