A Rolex watch formerly owned by the last emperor of Vietnam has achieved a new world record price in Geneva.
The Rolex Reference 6062 wristwatch once belonged to His Majesty Bao Dai, who acquired it in Geneva in 1954 whilst attending a peace conference in Geneva.
The royal timepiece had been expected to sell at Phillips for around $1.5 million, but an eight-minute bidding war between 13 different collectors saw the final price soar to $5,066,000 – making it the most expensive Rolex watch ever sold.
The price achieved by the watch more than doubled the previous record for a Rolex, set in 2016, when a Rolex stainless steel reference 4113 split-seconds chronograph sold at the same auction house for $2,453,100.
"With its incredible Imperial provenance, stunning condition, and exceptional rarity, it’s a mythical watch that occupies the dreams of scholars, collectors, and enthusiasts all over the world," said Senior Consultant Aurel Bacs.
In the spring of 1954, following the Indochina war, His Majesty Bao Dai attended the Geneva Conference to negotiate the future of his country.
According to legend, during a recess of the talks he wandered across the road from the Hotel des Bergues to a watch dealer, and made a simple request: he wanted the world’s rarest and most valuable Rolex watch ever made.
After a few quick phone calls to the Rolex workshop on the outskirts of Geneva, a clerk was dispatched to the store to present him with this particular watch, a Rolex reference 6062 in yellow gold, with a black dial and diamond indexes.
It was the most complicated Oyster-cased watch ever made by the company, with day, date, month and moonphase indications.
It was also one of one three examples ever produced with diamond hour markers, and the only one of those three with markers on five even numbers.
As a timepiece it was unique, and truly fit for an Emperor. Little did His Majesty Bao Dai know, but across the road plans were being drawn up to split his country in two. He was removed from power just 12 months later, and lived the rest of his life in exile, making him the last Emperor of Vietnam.
The watch had previously sold at auction back in 2002, after being consigned by the family of the Emperor, when it sold a record $370,000.
Fifteen years on, its value had skyrocketed more than 13 times over.