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Emperor Bao Dai’s Rolex Just Became the World's Most Expensive Watch

Emperor Bao Dai’s Rolex made history this weekend as the most expensive watch ever sold at auction.

According to Forbes, the watch was sold in Geneva, Switzerland for a staggering US$5,060,427, more than doubling the previous record for a watch sold at auction. The bidding took eight minutes, with 10 bidders vying for the prized timepiece in person while another three bid by phone.

The watch, affectionately known as the “Bao Dai Rolex”, is among the rarest in the world. Its timepiece features a triple calendar as well as a moonphase indicator, all surrounded by an 18-karat yellow gold band. It is also one of only three models in the world with a black dial and the only one to feature diamond markers at the even-numbered hours. In an article for luxury watch website Hodinkee, vintage watch expert Louis Westphalen referred to the Rolex as “something of a legend” in the watch-collecting world.

Beyond its unique features, Forbes also reports the watch was originally made in 1950 and, according to Hodinkee, was purchased by the emperor himself in 1954 on a trip to Geneva – the very same trip that would produce the Geneva Accords, dividing Vietnam in two following the end of the First Indochina War. Bao Dai reportedly ventured into the Chronometrie Philippe Beguin, a local Rolex dealer, the website reports, and purchased the now-famous timepiece.

The Bao Dai Rolex first sold at auction in 2002 for what was then a record-breaking US$235,000.

[Photo via Luxury London]

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