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The timepiece crushed its pre-sale estimate of $US3 million. | Source: Hodinkee
The timepiece crushed its pre-sale estimate of $US3 million. | Source: Hodinkee

Last Emperor of China’s watch returns $9 million at auction

A Patek Phillipe once owned by the last Emperor of China has sold for $US6.2 million ($AU9.54 million) at auction at Phillips in Hong Kong.

The platinum Quantieme Lune (ref. c96) triple date watch was manufactured in 1937 with moon phases, roulette-dial, enamel Arabic numerals, and pink-gold feuille hands.

The timepiece crushed its pre-sale estimate of $US3 million.

“Kept in its original untouched condition, including the strap and buckle with consistent patina throughout, this time-capsule piece comes with incredible historical importance, and is an epitome of its kind,” a statement from Phillips reads.

“A once in a lifetime opportunity to obtain a timepiece that is worthy of a museum’s collection. For astute collectors, what is presented today is not only about collecting a significant part of Patek Philippe’s history, but world cultural history.”

Aisin-Gioro Puyi, commonly known as Puyi, was the last emperor of China as the eleventh and Qing dynasty monarch. He became emperor at the age of two in 1908, but was forced to abdicate in 1912 during the Xinhai Revolution.

“It is not known how Puyi acquired the timepiece, though records show it was initially sold via a luxury store in Paris. Phillips added that historical documents prove the former emperor took it with him to a Soviet prison camp in Khabarovsk”
Oliver Hollands,CNN

Puyi was an influential political figure in Asia until the conclusion of the Second World War, when he was imprisoned in Japan until 1959. He died in 1967.

It is unclear how Puyi acquired the watch; however, it is known to have survived the five years he spent in a USSR prison camp in Siberia.

“It is not known how Puyi acquired the timepiece, though records show it was initially sold via a luxury store in Paris. Phillips added that historical documents prove the former emperor took it with him to a Soviet prison camp in Khabarovsk,” writes Oliver Hollands of CNN.

“He later gifted it to Georgy Permyakov, a fluent Mandarin speaker who served as his tutor and Russian translator during his time in detention. Almost a decade after returning to China, Puyi was pardoned and lived as a civilian in Beijing until his death in 1967.

“Permyakov, meanwhile, kept the watch until he died in 2005, after which it was passed to his heirs before being consigned to Phillips by its current owner in 2019.”

The watch was sold to an unidentified phone bidder from Hong Kong and is the most valuable timepiece sold by Phillips Watches in Asia.

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