GREAT EX­PEC­TA­TIONS: HERE COMES FABERGÉ

Fol­low­ing its re­launch in 2009 af­ter a 100-year hia­tus, the fa­bled brand is not only back but pre­par­ing to its lat­est col­lec­tions of time­launch pieces at Baselworld. Look out watch world, Fabergé means busi­ness.

Plaza Watch International - - Great Expectations: Here Comes Fabergé - WORDS Michaela larosse

In a game of word as­so­ci­a­tion, say the word Fabergé to any one in the world and the most likely re­sponse will be “eggs”. And with good rea­son, Peter Carl Fabergé is one of the great­est ar­ti­sans that ever lived. As jew­eller to the Rus­sian im­pe­rial court in the late 19th and early 20th cen­turies he cre­ated over 150,000 items, but his most leg­endary are the 50 ex­quis­ite be­jew­elled Easter eggs cre­ated for Tsars Alexan­der III and Ni­cholas II as gifts for their wives and moth­ers. As­tound­ing in their in­tri­cacy and beauty, the eggs are sealed in the planet’s con­scious­ness as the zenith of the jew­ellers’ art. This makes it an even more in­trigu­ing propo­si­tion that the name Fabergé has high hopes to soon be­come syn­ony­mous with the word ‘watches’.

2015 of course will not be Fabergé’s de­but as a watch­maker. Aside from its re­cent col­lec­tions, it has a long if not well-known his­tory in watch­mak­ing since Peter Carl Fabergé in­cor­po­rated clocks and watches into his reper­toire of jew­elled ob­jects and per­sonal ac­ces­sories – the most ex­pen­sive Fabergé pieces ever sold at auc­tion and pri­vately are Fabergé clocks. Though this is un­doubt­edly the year in which Fabergé’s am­bi­tions in the horology arena will be­come fully ap­par­ent.

Fabergé’s resur­gence as a lux­ury force-to-bereck­oned-with was ini­ti­ated at its brand re­launch in 2009, where its open­ing salvo was a high jew­ellery col­lec­tion ‘Les Fab­uleuses’ and a ded­i­cated bou­tique in Geneva – the first out­side Rus­sia since 1915, prior to the rev­o­lu­tion which in­evitably cur­tailed ac­tiv­i­ties. In 2011 its first new watch col­lec­tions were made avail­able at Har­rods in Lon­don, swiftly fol­lowed in 2012 by two ded­i­cated bou­tiques in Lon­don and New York. All this spritely ac­tiv­ity from a for­merly dor­mant her­itage brand of global renown was bound to get it no­ticed, and it did. In Novem­ber 2012 it was ac­quired by Gem­fields, the min­ing com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in eth­i­cally sourced gem­stones, in a deal worth $142 mil­lion. Fabergé was sud­denly back in the big league and able to ce­ment its po­si­tion as rel­e­vant to the con­tem­po­rary scene.

fabergé’s story of re­ju­ve­na­tion has an­other key player: in 2013 Robert Ben­venuto took the helm as Pres­i­dent and Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer, fol­low­ing a 13-year stint at US jew­eller Harry Win­ston. The brand’s up­surge in for­tunes since has been star­tling. In Fe­bru­ary 2014 it re­vealed Christ­mas sales fig­ures were up 89 per cent from the pre­vi­ous year. They’re the kind of num­bers to de­mar­cate any brand as a con­tender, so it’s hardly sur­pris­ing that the watch­mak­ing bush tele­graph is alive with ru­mours of

ABOVE: FABERGÉ SHOP, NEW BOND STREET 1910. COUR­TESY OF FERSMAN MU­SEUM RO­COCO MULTI COLOUR PEN­DANT AND RING

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