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.
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