Last Chinese Emperor’s Patek Philippe Watch Sells For $6.2 Million

The auction, which lasted about seven minutes, took place at Phillips’ new headquarters at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Collection of&nbsp;Patek Philippe Watches (Source: Company Official Website)</p></div>
Collection of Patek Philippe Watches (Source: Company Official Website)

A Patek Philippe watch worn by the last emperor of China’s Qing Dynasty was sold for HK$48.85 million ($6.2 million) Tuesday at a live auction in Hong Kong.

The auction, which lasted about seven minutes, took place at Phillips’ new headquarters at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural and was attended predominantly by mainland and local Hong Kong collectors and representatives.

Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, had given the watch to his interpreter Georgy Permyakov, who was Puyi’s companion when he was imprisoned in the Soviet Union between 1945 and 1950. It isn’t known when or how Puyi obtained the watch, which was completed in 1937.

A red paper fan, which Puyi personally inscribed and gifted to his interpreter in Tokyo, also sold at auction for HK$609,600.

Read more: Patek Philippe Watch Owned by Last Qing Emperor Comes to Auction 

“This was unknown and uncharted territory, and nobody knew what was going to happen,” said Sam Hines, a watch specialist with art advisory and investment firm The Fine Art Group. “The provenance is not from a watch collector’s perspective, it’s from a Chinese cultural perspective.”

The most expensive watch ever sold at auction was a super-complicated Patek Philippe “Grandmaster Chime,” which never had a previous owner. It sold for $31 million in 2019.

The process to establish the provenance of the watch included finding a husband-and-wife team of journalists who had interviewed Permyakov and possessed photographs of the watch. (The journalists, Russell and Nonna Working, were at the sale.) An institute specializing in Puyi’s studies found that Puyi had asked his attendant, Li Guoxiong, to remove the surface of the dial to find out if the base was made of platinum — a request that matches damage seen on the watch.

Still, the watch itself is valuable even without its history, Hines says. The watch is one of only eight known of the model 96 Quantieme Lune. It features a moon-phase and triple-date calendar. “It’s as complicated as wristwatches could be at that time,” Hines said.  “In its own right, without any provenance, it’s very important.”

The watch was initially estimated by Phillips to be sold in excess of $3 million, although past auctions of items with provenance often outperform estimates. The company is also offering 240 lots over the next two days in its watch auction.

(Updates prices throughout article to include auction house fees.)

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