This egg was last seen in public as part of an exhibition of Imperial treasures in St Petersburg, when it was photographed in the Von Dervis Mansion exhibition of the Imperial family's Fabergé collection in St Petersburg in March 1902. Seized by the Bolsheviks, it was last recorded in Moscow in 1922 when the Soviets decided to sell it as part of their "Treasures into Tractors" policy. Then it was thought to be lost. It had not been recognized until now because it seems to bear no marks (like the first Fabergé Imperial Egg).
In 2011, Fabergé researchers found the first proof that the egg survived into the middle of the 20th century: a picture in a 1964 catalogue for Parke Bernet, the New York auction house later acquired by Sotheby's, for $2,450. It was described as a "Gold Watch in Egg-Form Case" and sold for #875 to a female buyer from the Deep South. She died in the early 2000s, and her estate sold off. The egg, not believed to be of great value, found its way to a bric-a-brac market - then made its way into the hands of a gold dealer in Midwest America, who, knowing nothing of the egg's history, purchased it for #8,000 based on its weight and estimated value of the diamonds and sapphires featured in the decoration. He predicted it was $14,500 worth of bullion. As it happened he had overestimated its scrap value and (happily) he was too stubborn to sell it for less.
Unsure how to recoup his investment, the dealer Googled "egg" and "Vacheron Constantin". The search lead him to a 2011 Telegraph article about the missing egg which quoted Kieran McCarthy, a Fabergé expert from London antiques company Wartski. Suspecting he might be sitting on an egg-shaped goldmine, the dealer contacted McCarthy who flew to the US and confirmed that the piece was indeed an authentic Imperial egg - one of eight missing Fabergé treasures.
This egg opens via a brilliant-cut diamond pushpiece to reveal a watch with diamond-set hands by the Swiss maker Vacheron Constantin... which is surprising for a Fabergé Egg. As suggested by Kieran McCarthy, this surprise could be a later replacement.