Phillips Hong Kong unit has just successfully sold a Patek Philippe “Royal” watch for 48,850,000 HKD (about 6.2 million USD, equivalent to about 145 billion VND) in a private auction with 11 another item from Aixin Jue Luo Puyi, the last Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. This is considered the watch sold at auction with the highest price so far this year in 2023, and is also the eighth highest priced vintage wristwatch ever sold at auction.

There is also a story behind Pho Nghi’s Patek Philippe watch, which contributed to the historic result in the room of Phillips auction house recently.

Journalist Russell Working (currently living near Chicago) was the first to discover this watch. Russell Working met Georgy Permyakov, an 83-year-old Russian translator, in 2001. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Working first met Permyakov while reporting on another story, but Georgy Permyakov shared that he used to be that person. translator for Pu Yi, the last emperor of China.

During the first years of his life, Pho Nghi lived with unimaginable privilege. Pu Yi was appointed Emperor when he was only two years old with many servants at his side to serve his every need. Then, one thing that Pu Yi could not expect was that he was dethroned and transferred to prison in the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1950. Also here, Georgy Permyakov became Pu Yi’s translator (You can watch the movie The Last Emperor 1987 to know more about Pu Yi’s life). To prove it, Georgy Permyakov showed the journalist some of Pho Nghi’s items, including a fan with inscriptions, a notebook and a Patek Philippe & Co. watch.

Although Pu Yi still had more privileges than others during his time in a Soviet prison, he did not have much contact with the outside world, except for interacting with his translator. Permyakov wrote about life in China under Puyi’s orders to pass the time. These writings are in the notebook, sold with the Patek Philippe 96. Pho Nghi also wrote a poem on a red fan, dedicated to Permyakov; Like the notebook (priced at 121,500 USD), the fan was also sold at auction (77,000 USD).

The Patek Philippe 96 watch was the item sold for the highest price in the auction that Phillips held last week. A servant of Pho Nghi recounted, One boring day (during his imprisonment by the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1950, Pu Yi wanted to see if the watch dial was really made from precious metal or not). , so I ordered the servant to try scraping the dial. Until it became clear that the dial was made of copper, he stopped. That’s why this Patek Philippe watch looks so “smudgy”.

According to the memoirs of Yu Yan, Pu Yi’s nephew, Pu Yi wore a Patek Philippe watch every day during his time in Soviet prison. Puyi gave a watch to Yuyan for a while. But when he heard that he could return to China in 1950, Pu Yi asked for the watch back and his nephew quickly gave it back. Later, as we know, Puyi gave the watch to his friend and translator Permyakov, and it remained in Permyakov’s possession until his death.

Journalist Russell Working shared that Permyakov may not have understood the value of the watch when they first met in 2001 because the watch was only kept in a drawer and not a safe. In 2019, the watch first appeared on the market, and then finally ended up in the hands of auction house Phillips.

Phillips has estimated the Patek 96 Quantieme Lune at simply “in excess of $3 million.” In addition to its history and connection to Puyi, this watch is rare and important in Patek Philippe’s history: it is the third known Patek Philippe 96 in platinum, the other two are currently in Patek Philippe Museum. More details about this watch model are included
​Actual condition of the watch
The platinum case of the Patek Philippe 96 Emperor Puyi remains sharp and original. The dial is also original but shows “imperfections” in a valuable way. Half of the dial is shaved clean, said to be the result of Pho Nghi’s curiosity. The watch still has the original strap and clasp. The citation indicates the watch was sold by Guillermin – a French retailer Guillermin in 1937. It is unclear how a watch sold by a French retailer ended up in the hands of a Chinese emperor , but Phillips has put forward a hypothesis based on the fact that, in addition to retailing luxury products in Paris, Guillermin would also supply other international dealers. One of these dealers could be Sennet Frères , a watch and jewelry distributor in Hong Kong.

Either way, this watch has historical museum-level appeal and not just for watch-focused museums. Several artifacts related to Puyi can be seen in museums across China. Meanwhile, the Patek Philippe Museum already has a few platinum 96 Quantieme Lune models, but this one’s provenance sets it apart.

The auction of the Patek Philippe 96 Emperor of Puyi watch was conducted by Thomas Perazzi, of Phillips Hong Kong unit. Thomas Perazzi started the bidding at HKD 18 million before it quickly increased to HKD 30 million. After a brief pause in bidding, expert Gertrude Wong increased the bidding straight to HK$40 million for her phone bidder. And the watch sold at that price, resulting in a total price of 48,850,000 HKD (about 6.23 million USD).

Photos of the actual condition of the watch

 

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