The Last Emperor’s Patek Philippe: History in the Making

Step into history and witness the remarkable journey of Puyi’s wristwatch, an artifact that carries the weight of a bygone era. This iconic timepiece, belonging to the legendary emperor, will soon go under the hammer at Phillips auctioneers, and its story is truly captivating. Georgy Permyakov, Puyi’s Russian translator, was entrusted with preserving the memories of the last emperor. In 2001, renowned journalist Russell Working had the privilege of interviewing Permyakov, who proudly displayed the watch and other artifacts he had received from Aisingyoro Puyi himself. Working even captured a captivating photo of these treasures in Permyakov’s house.

Phillips sought additional authentication for this extraordinary piece. They reached out to the Imperial Museum of the Manchurian regime, the sole institution wholly dedicated to Puyi. Through their collaboration, they managed to connect with the last living scholar, who personally interviewed members of Puyi’s entourage and family during their time in Soviet camps. In 2009, a group of scholars from the museum visited Permyakov’s house and testified to witnessing these precious artifacts in the exact same condition, further solidifying their provenance and historical significance. A fascinating detail about the watch’s “two-tone” dial adds to its allure. According to research, a servant of Puyi scraped away the paint from the dial at the emperor’s request, hoping to reveal platinum beneath its surface. However, only brass was discovered. Upon this discovery, Puyi decided to halt the process, resulting in this curious dial condition we see today.

Memoirs from Puyi’s nephew, Yulan, provide written evidence of the watch’s fascinating journey. Yulan’s book recounts the precise moment when Puyi gifted the watch to Permyakov in the 1950s. Now, this extraordinary timepiece, with its rich history and remarkable provenance, is set to capture the hearts of collectors and history enthusiasts alike.

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