The Swiss heritage of the Russian jeweler

15.05.2017

This year Fabergé celebrates its 175th anniversary. The watch division of the brand came to the official date fully armed, getting on the eve an important victory at the GPHG ceremony in Geneva. Jewelry direction is also on the rise and has six collections of fine jewelry at once, and each of them would certainly would be an honor to the creator of the famous Imperial eggs.

 

Elegant era

The jewelry company known almost to each inhabitant of our planet was founded in St. Petersburg in 1842 by the descendant of French Huguenots Gustav Fabergé. For nearly twenty years, the business steadily developed, but there were no signs of a breakthrough. That all changed when it took Gustav's son Peter Carl, who was destined to become one of the brightest figures in the history of his craft.

 Starting with copying of antique jewelry kept in the Hermitage, Karl and his masters quickly drew the attention of connoisseurs. On one of the numerous exhibitions, their work was appreciated by Alexander III, who granted Fabergé the title of Goldsmith of the Imperial court and commissioned the first egg from the famous series as an Easter gift for his wife Maria Fyodorovna. This tradition repeated every year until 1917, and his son Nicholas II annually required a pair at once: for wife and mother. On regular orders of the Emperor, it took the leading specialists of the company almost all 12 months, but in return, just one condition limited the creative freedom – the obligatory presence of a surprise in every product.

 The firm engaged not only in high jewelry art, but also in an easier jewelry. Its branches existed in several cities and in some European capitals, and on the whole the brand was able to sell about 250 000 products. The merits of Carl Fabergé were recognized not only at home: the Royal families of Britain, Sweden and Norway often supplied him with work, and France had awarded the Legion of Honor. Then the October revolution came, the company was nationalized, Fabergé fled the country and died shortly afterwards.

 The legend comes to life

 In 1924, his children Alexander and Evgeniy tried to establish the company in a new place and opened Fabergé et Cie in Paris. Subsequently, the rights to the name had been sold many times, and most of the XXth century under this brand was produced everything possible, from cosmetics to clothes.

 Back to basics and refocusing on the art of the highest standard jewelry took place only in 2007. After in 2013 one of the world's largest producers of gemstones – Gemfields bought the firm, Fabergé finally engaged in watch. Although there was a place for a number of interesting table models in the rich history of the brand, there had never been a tradition of haute horlogerie at Fabergé. In order to compete with the venerable Swiss colleagues, the new leadership decided on the only correct step that is to invite famous engineers from outside to the cooperation. So, the calibers to the lineup of Lady Compliquée were developed by none other than Jean-Marc Wiederecht, head of Agenhor, and the winner of four statuettes of the Grand Prix d'horlogerie de Genève. For mechanics of men's Visionnaire 1 were responsible the professionals from almost legendary Atelier Renaud et Papi, belonging to Audemars Piguet.

 

 A habit of surprising

 According to the head of the watch unit Aurélie Picot, the philosophy of the brand still bases on a mandatory surprise. If you look at the central nacreous disc Lady Levity at a certain angle, you will discover the anthropomorphic image of the moon. Upon closer inspection, the crowning of Visionnaire DTZ dial black decoration is a lens through which the indication of the second time zone is carried out, and the model rotor is securely hidden under a sapphire disk with hour markers. Without knowing in advance, one can scrutinize the finish of the caliber via a transparent rear glass, and never understand why it is called automatic.

 As a nice bonus, the creators even offer the owners a kind of game: one of the parts is made in a form of a traditional brand peacock, and you personally have to find it among the endless variety of hand-finished bridges and wheels. A retrograde minute indication Compliquée Lady Peacock deserves a separate discussion. The first a peacock feather moves at a speed of 15 degrees per hour, the second moves at 30 and so on. As a result, during 60 minutes the tail unfolds fully to fold then immediately back. There is no clockwise here at all, instead of this the dial itself rotates from right to left.

 On the edge of the possible

 Another important detail: by reason of the relatively small production scale the craftsmen are always ready to make any external changes to the design of one or another product. In addition, if the client wishes to replace the already mentioned moon in Lady Levity to something completely unique, the price will increase by only 12%.

 In accordance with the principles of Carl Fabergé the company tries to combine in each product several precious materials and never uses stainless steel. Add to this the love of difficult enamel techniques, especially clearly represented in the line of Altruist as well as of fine engravings, and you will realize how the manufacture has been able to break through in the higher clock league in just a few years. Attention to detail, originality and refusal to compromise cause as a rule a considerable stir among the discerning public.

 It takes Fabergé about six months to create one exemplar of Lady Libertine I. This includes finding a suitable raw emerald, 5 months meticulous work of jewelers, encrusting the case with six hundred different-colored stones and, of course, careful decoration of many parts of caliber 6924 with manual winding.

 

 The emperors’ choice

 Still a key part of the brand heritage are the famous eggs. Totally about 50 copies were created on the orders of the last two Russian emperors. The craftsmen working with Carl Gustavovich organized the work so well that in addition to their main customer, they were able to meet the demand from other notables, but, according to experts, the total number of products still varies about 70.

 After the revolution, the fate of some exemplars remains unknown so far, as not always happy buyers and sellers understand what they are dealing with. For example, a couple of years ago a gentleman experiencing financial difficulties, almost passed a masterpiece of the master he kept to a smelter. When the offered price did not suit him, he decided a little googling, and soon his life changed radically for the better. The market price of such an artifact may reach $15-50 million, and there is nothing strange in the fact that the company seeks to revive this glorious tradition. The released a couple of years ago Pearl Egg is not inferior in finishing mastery and design originality to its predecessors and discovers inside a unique gray pearl weighing over 12 carats. Different reinterpretations of this image are expected widely represented throughout modern jewelry line of the company. Pendants, earrings and necklaces use both the design and color motifs of Carl Fabergé masterpieces. So, as the music of Stravinsky or the paintings of the Impressionists, every item from the brand collections carries a piece of the passed into oblivion world of elegant carriages, high cylinders and noble European style, of becoming a part of which anyone of us probably dreams.