A Patek Philippe wristwatch once owned by the Chinese last emperor of Qing dynasty, Aisin-Groro Puyi – sold for USD 5.1 million hammer at an auction in Hong Kong Tuesday.
The Patek Philippe Reference 96 Quantieme Lune, which is one of just eight known to exist according to Philipps acution house which handled the sale.
The 1.2-inch-diameter platinum timepiece features an Arabic numeral dial, pink gold hands and a “moon phase” function that shows hoe visible the moon is from Earth at any given time. It is not known how Puyi actuired the timepiece, though records show it was initially sold via a luxury store in Paris. It is because some of its internal mechanisms date to 1929, though the model was not sold by Patek Philippe – a Swiss watchmaker known for fitting complicated movements into slim cases – until 1937. Phillips added that historical documents prove the former emperor took it with him to a Soviet prison camp in Khabarovsk. Puyi later gifted it to Georgy Permyakov, a fluent Mandarin speaker who served as his tutor and Russian translator during his time in detention.
The auction house – Phillips spent 3 years on reserching the object’s history and confirming its provenance. It is an unprecedented reserch project with a worldwide team of watch specialists, historians, journalists and scientists according to a press release of the auction house.