Aisin-gyoro Puyi, the last emperor of the Chinese Qing dynasty, kept the watch for years
A watch belonging to China’s last emperor Aisin-Jiao Puyi sold for more than $5 million at an auction in Hong Kong earlier this week.
The Ref 96 Quantiem Lune timepiece, which boasts a crown-like moon phase, originally belonged to the last emperor of the Chinese Qing dynasty, reports AFP.
Emperor at the age of two in 1908, Puyi was immortalized by Bernardo Bertolucci’s Oscar-winning film, but left a mixed legacy. More than 20 years later, he was installed as the puppet leader of Japanese-occupied Manchuria, before he was captured in 1945 following the fall of Japan and taken to a Soviet prison camp, AFP stated in the report.
The watch was expected to fetch around $3 million, but eventually sold for HK$40 million ($5.1 million). With the commission fee, the total price came to around $6.2 million.
Thomas Perazzi, Philips’ head of watches in Asia, said he was “thrilled with this tremendous sales” as it sets a record, reports AFP. Those records include “the highest result ever for any Patek Philippe Reference 96,” according to a news release.
The Ref 96 was the first complicated wristwatch serially produced by Patek Philippe, with Perazzi stating that only “three examples are currently known in the world”. According to the memoir of Puyi’s nephew Aisin-Giao Yuyuan, the watch was a “personal item” of the deposed emperor, who gave it to his Russian interpreter, Georgy Permyakov, for safekeeping when he left the prison camp, reports AFP. Had given.”
Russell Working, a journalist who interviewed Permyakov more than 20 years ago, told AFP the elderly interpreter had no idea of its value when he pulled the watch out of his drawer. “To suddenly have this one surface after so many years was like finding a treasure washed up on a beach,” said Working, who was part of the auction house’s research team.