Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo will exhibit a collection of rare artefacts, once belonging to Aisin-Giro Puyi, the last Emperor of the Qing dynasty, in Hong Kong's West Kowloon Cultural District on March 18. Among the treasures, one will find a Patek Philippe Reference 96 Quantieme Lune wristwatch, an inscribed paper fan, a manuscript notebook, watercolour paintings and a leather-bound printed edition of Confucius's Analects. The items will be auctioned at a later date. For now, visitors can see the artefacts in Hong Kong till March 31. Thereafter, these invaluable artefacts will tour New York, Singapore, London, Taipei and Geneva (international tour timeline shown below).
A Remarkable Chapter in History
Puyi was captured by the Soviet Red Army in 1945. During his five years in captivity in the erstwhile USSR, Puyi developed a close friendship with his interpreter, Georgy Permyakov, whom he gifted the Patek Philippe Reference 96 Quantieme Lune wristwatch in 1950.
The Watch: A Patek Philippe Reference 96 Quantieme Lune
The Patek Philippe Reference 96 with triple date and moon phase is a legendary timepiece of utmost importance to the brand's heritage. Crafted by Geneva-based casemaker Antoine Gerlach in platinum with a Calatrava case stamped with ‘Key number 4’, this watch features an Arabic numeral dial with pink gold accents and Feuille hands. Its 11''' Victorin Piguet ébauche movement was produced during the steep downturn in the global economy in 1929 — the beginning of the Great Depression. But it was not cased till the introduction of Reference 96 in 1932. Upgraded in 1937 with a modernist platinum case with Bauhaus (a German art school) influences, the watch is the eighth of its kind to resurface.
This timepiece is extremely rare, with only two other examples featuring the same enamel Arabic ‘Roulette’ dial configuration known to exist, both cased in platinum and bearing consecutive movement numbers. This particular watch has been kept in its original, untouched state with a consistent patina. Its authenticity has been confirmed by the Patek Philippe Extract from the Archives, referencing a silvered dial, rose gold zone and enamel hour markers manufactured in 1929, with a sale date of October 6, 1937.
The Patek Philippe Reference 96 Quantieme Lune wristwatch is in august company — other artefacts include a red paper fan where Puyi inscribed a four-line poem in Chinese, a manuscript notebook containing Puyi's notes on books and magazines while he was in captivity, a leather-bound edition of Confucius' Analects, highlighting Puyi's appreciation for traditional values, and 15 watercolour paintings, depicting various aspects of Chinese culture and rural scenes.
Image Credits: Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo