A Rolex Ref. 6062 belonged to the last emperor of Vietnam, Bảo Đại, was sold for a cool US$5.07 million (RM21.87 million) to an unnamed caller at Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: Five on 13 May 2017, in a bidding war that lasted eight minutes with 10 bidders in the room and three on the phone, as reported by Bloomberg.
Bảo Đại, means ‘keeper of greatness’, was born on 22 October 1913 and ascended the throne in 1926. During his time as the ruler of Annam (present-day Vietnam), the protectorate under French administration saw Japanese invasion. He was abdicated as emperor after the Viet Minh seized power in a revolution and subsequently saw the state descended into the First Indochina war.
Rounds of negotiation went underway in 1954 in Geneva with the future of Vietnam at stake. It was during a recess that Bảo Đại stepped out of the Hotel des Bergues and found himself in the vicinity of Chronomètrie Philippe Beguin, a Rolex retailer.
According to Phillips, Bảo Đại wanted the rarest and most precious Rolex ever made. He refused various models presented to him, before a clerk was dispatched from the Rolex workshops in the outskirts of Geneva, bringing with him a rare timepiece: the Rolex Ref. 6062 in yellow gold, with a black dial and diamond indices.
The Rolex, cased in yellow gold, is one of only three black dial models known to be set with diamond markers. While two examples feature six diamond markers for odd hour numbers, the present lot displays five diamond numerals for even numbers and a different dial layout, making this piece truly unique.
It is interesting to note that due to the diamond numeral at 12 o’clock, the Rolex crown was moved down, consequently making it impossible to have the ‘Rolex Oyster Perpetual’ above the day and month apertures. The ‘Officially Certified Chronometer’ wording was also removed from the centre of the dial and placed below the moonphase indication.
Last year, Phillips also sold a vintage stainless steel Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 for US$11 million (RM47.46 million).