A rare Patek Philippe perpetual calendar Ref. 2479 that one belonged to former Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie fetched $2.9 million (CHF 2,911,500 to be precise) at the Christie’s Rare Watches Auction in Geneva today. This is the second watch with imperial provenance that has breached the million dollar mark in less than three days. A Rolex Ref. 6062 owned by Bao Dai, the last Emperor of Vietnam, sold for more than $5 million on Saturday.

The rare Patek was gifted to the Emperor in 1954

It is learnt that after an intense bidding war that lasted more than 15 minutes among various collectors, the watch was finally sold to a prominent Italian bidder present in the room. The Ref. 2479 is a watch whose provenance has been the subject of much debate and even a court case that pitted two prominent African families against each other. In the auction catalogue, Christie’s described the watch as “exceptionally important” and “possibly unique”.

Ref. 2497 was produced by Patek Philippe between 1950 and 1963. This perpetual calendar features an 18K gold case with an engraving of the monogram of His Majesty Haile Selassie on the caseback. The unique black luminous military-style dial features alpha hands, a center seconds hand and Arabic numerals alternating with gold cabochons to mark the hours. It has a moonphase display and twin apertures on the dial that show the day and month.

The Selassie monogram is visible on the caseback

The watch is supposed to be in immaculate condition. It is powered by the manual-winding caliber 27-SCQ. The pre-sale estimate of this watch was set around CHF 500,000 -1 million (Approx. $500,000-$1 mn).

According to the Christie’s, the watch was given to Selassie by an Italian entrepreneur, Frederico Bazzi, during a visit to Switzerland November 1954, a month after the confirmed delivery of the watch by Patek Philippe. Back then, Bazzi was based in Asmara, Eritrea (which formed a federation with Ethiopia in 1952 and was fully annexed to Ethiopia in 1961). You can read more about this intriguing case of the Emperor’s Patek Philippe here.