Known as the ‘Bao Dai Rolex’, the watch went for a world record breaking $5 million.
A legendary Rolex once owned by Vietnam’s last emperor Bao Dai sold for $5,060,427 at the Geneva Watch Auction held by Phillips and Aurel Bacs on Saturday.
It set a new world record for the highest price ever achieved at auction for a Rolex wristwatch.
Forbes reported the bidding war lasted for 8 minutes between 10 in-room bidders at the Hotel La Reserve in Geneva, and three bidding by phone.
The unique Rolex is a small 36mm yellow gold triple calendar moon phase and is the only known example with the reference 6062 with a black dial and diamond indexes, according to leading watch website Hodinkee.
A closer look at the Bao Dai Rolex. Photo by Phillips.
The watch’s history also makes it desirable to collectors.
Bao Dai, which means “keeper of greatness”, was the final heir of the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam’s last ruling family who reigned in Hue from 1802 to 1945.
Born Nguyen Phuc Vinh Thuy, he was officially made emperor in 1926 at th age of 12, but he did not take the throne until 1932 after returning from his studies in France.
He reportedly went shopping for the Rolex when he was in Geneva in the spring of 1954 to attend the Geneva Convention, which split Vietnam into two.
Vietnam’s last emperor Bao Dai.
A referendum in South Vietnam in 1955 removed him from the throne, and he spent the remaining years of his life abroad until he died in 1997 in Paris.
In 2002, his relatives consigned the watch for auction at Phillips. The watch went to a private collector for the then record-setting $235,000.
Last month, the rare watch was valued at $1.5 million and many collectors believed it would once again become the most expensive Rolex ever sold at auction ahead of the $2.5 million paid for a split-seconds chronograph reference 4113 a year ago.