An extremely rare 1958 Patek Philippe watch has been auctioned off for Dhs1.6 million at the final watch auction of the year by Christie's. To say the pre-auction estimate of Dhs36,000-Dhs55,000 was modest is an understatement given that the timepiece sold for more than 40 times the amount.

Named The Pearl of Bahrain, the unique watch uses natural seed pearls harvested from off the coast of Bahrain to create the hour-markers. To accommodate this special feature, several key designs were incorporated that are not seen in typical Patek Philippe watches. For instance, the hour and minute hands are on a higher post while the bezel is taller and steeper. These however all combine to give superb visibility of the pearl hour-markers from a side angle, giving the watch an added element of visual interest.

Patek Philippe's The Pearl of Bahrain sold for Dhs1.6 million

The Pearl of Bahrain was a gift by Bahrain's Emir Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa I to an American advisor, a close personal friend of his. The gentleman, who is still living, revealed that he only wore it a few times during his life, which explains the watch's mint and original condition.

Bahrain's natural pearls are widely believed to be the best in the world and so much a part of the local culture that it is illegal to import or sell cultured pearls in the country.