At a live sale in Hong Kong, a Rare Watch that once belonged to Aisin-Gioro Puyi, the last ruler of the Qing Dynasty and the inspiration for the movie “The Last Emperor,” sold for an unbelievable $6.2 million.
After six minutes of bidding over the phone, an Asian buyer won the bid for the rare Patek Philippe watch. The London-based auction house Phillips, which ran the sale, said that this price is a new record for both a wristwatch that was once owned by a ruler and the Patek Philippe Reference 96 Quantieme Lune, of which only eight are known to exist.
Phillips’ head of watches for Asia, Thomas Perazzi, was happy with the result and talked about the long, three-year study process that proved the watch was real. Hong Kong’s status as a major centre for fine watches and highly collectible timepieces was made even stronger by the sale result.
Researchers from all over the world checked the history of the 86-year-old watch very carefully. They found that Puyi had given it to his Russian translator, Georgy Permyakov, while he was in jail in the Soviet Union after World War II. It is still not clear how Puyi got the watch.
Collectors have wanted Patek Philippe watches for a long time. In 2019, a one-of-a-kind Grandmaster Chime from the Swiss company sold at auction for $31.2 million, making it the most expensive watch in the world.
John Ng, a well-known independent watchmaker in Hong Kong, says that the sale of the emperor’s watch could start a new trend. He thinks that smaller, more complicated watches will become more popular because big, simple watches are so popular right now.
The Hong Kong sale also had other things that belonged to Puyi, like a handwritten notebook, a leather-bound copy of Confucius’ “Analects,” and a red paper fan that Puyi gave to Permyakov in Tokyo and wrote on. At the auction, these things sold for a lot of money. The fan sold for $77,846 and the other two items sold for a total of $121,634, which was much more than their pre-sale projections.