GREAT EX­PEC­TA­TIONS: HERE COMES FABERGÉ

Plaza Watch International - - Great Expectations: Here Comes Fabergé -

Fabergé’s 2015 watch col­lec­tions, and its sor­tie into the cre­ation of its very own move­ment. Whilst tech­ni­cal specs for the col­lec­tions are un­der wraps at the time of writ­ing – with the big re­veal due at Baselworld – Robert Ben­venuto was happy to dis­cuss the brand’s wider as­pi­ra­tions to Plaza Watch.

Ac­cord­ing to Ben­venuto , Fabergé is at the first stage of a far-reach­ing strategy to play on the brand’s ar­ti­san his­tory, whilst as­sert­ing its con­tem­po­rary cre­den­tials. Though it may be viewed as some­thing of a new­comer in the horology field, it has in fact long­stand­ing as­so­ci­a­tions with the in­dus­try in its Swiss heart­lands, he says.

“It is in the Fabergé tra­di­tion to al­ways work with the best work­mas­ters in ev­ery area, from enam­ellers to gem-set­ters and stone-carvers. Fabergé was also renowned for his in­ge­nious au­toma­tons and other in­no­va­tive cre­ations util­is­ing pi­o­neer­ing tech­niques. A par­tic­u­lar ex­am­ple was a watch which, through an in­ge­nious mech­a­nism de­vel­oped by Paul Di­tisheim of La Chaux-deFonds, was wound by turn­ing one half of the sphere against the other,” he says. “His­tor­i­cally, the name Fabergé is not only as­so­ci­ated with jew­ellery, but also with unique de­sign and en­gi­neer­ing tech­niques that we have de­vel­oped and used in our jew­ellery and ob­jets. This his­tory in sur­prise, ex­ac­ti­tude, dis­cov­ery and tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise is un­doubt­edly a help within the watch in­dus­try" says Ben­venuto.

“Today, Fabergé con­tin­ues this tra­di­tion by part­ner­ing with some of the lead­ing and most tal­ented watch­mak­ers in the world. Fabergé has col­lab­o­rated with Jean-Marc Wieder­recht of Agen­hor to create its new Ladie’s High Com­pli­ca­tion time­pieces, in­cor­po­rat­ing an un­usual and artis­tic move­ment in­spired by na­ture; and with Gi­ulio Papi of APRP to create its new Men’s High Com­pli­ca­tion time­pieces, in­cor­po­rat­ing a Fly­ing Tour­bil­lon. Both col­lec­tions, highly so­phis­ti­cated and lux­u­ri­ous, are avail­able in limited edi­tions of only 15 or 30 pieces, and re­veal un­ex­pected sur­prises through their com­pli­ca­tions,” he says. “Also key to the Fabergé de­sign DNA is in­ject­ing char­ac­ter, wit and sur­prise in Fabergé cre­ations through its un­usual lay­er­ing of ma­te­ri­als and tech­niques.”

Fabergé de­scribes its watches as ‘Swiss Made’ and hav­ing a Swiss cen­tre of op­er­a­tions for its watch­mak­ing, but a num­ber of strate­gic part­ner­ships con­trib­ute to its cre­ations. The del­i­cate guil­loche enam­elling that forms its sig­na­ture dec­o­ra­tive mo­tif is sourced in Ger­many, whilst nat­u­rally its own­er­ship by Gem­fields means it is has un­ri­valled ac­cess to the com­pany’s sup­plies of eth­i­cally-sourced Zam­bian emer­alds, amethysts and Mozam­bi­can ru­bies.

Though in the fickle world of lux­ury there is no guar­an­tee of suc­cess. In its 2013 an­nual re­port, Gem­fields said that, since its ac­qui­si­tion, Fabergé had contributed $4.2 mil­lion to group rev­enue and $6.9 mil­lion to group losses. In an in­ter­view with Reuters in Novem­ber 2014, Gem­fields CEO Ian Hare­bot­tle stated that Fabergé’s con­tin­u­ing neg­a­tive bal­ance sheet is due to the steep spike in the price of gems since they bought the com­pany – the ac­qui­si­tion had been in­tended to boost de­mand for coloured gems due to Fabergé’s his­tor­i­cal renown with the stones. He also re­vealed a two-year strategy to grow the brand, ex­pect­ing that to be the pe­riod nec­es­sary to stop the losses. Stage one of the plan will see Fabergé in­crease its cur­rent num­ber of stores from five to around twelve or 15.

Af­ter A nigh on hun­dred-year hia­tus it seems only nat­u­ral that Fabergé has some ini­tial grow­ing pains. The men­tal­ity of the com­pany, as Ben­venuto com­mented to the Fi­nan­cial Times last year, is ac­tu­ally that of a start-up, though one with the weight of Faberge’s in­cred­i­ble his­tory be­hind it. It’s the kind of pedi­gree that in­evitably lends it­self to ex­pec­ta­tions of great­ness.

Ben­venuto stands firm on his as­pi­ra­tions. “Our plans are to wow the world with our ex­quis­ite de­signs and to con­tinue to fur­ther es­tab­lish our po­si­tion as the only ‘Artist Jew­eller’. Watches will be­come an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant part of the Fabergé prod­uct of­fer­ing, along with jew­ellery, ob­jets d’art and pri­vate com­mis­sions.

“We are plan­ning to con­tinue to ex­pand in key cities in the USA, Europe and the Mid­dle East through stand­alone bou­tiques and high-end multi­brand re­tail­ers to make our pieces ac­ces­si­ble to new mar­kets and to a new gen­er­a­tion, pieces that will be col­lected as the much-prized an­tiques of the fu­ture.

“Our clients are some of the world’s most so­phis­ti­cated and dis­cern­ing col­lec­tors. Our fine jew­ellery ap­peals to a younger gen­er­a­tion of jew­ellery buy­ers and wear­ers search­ing for emo­tion­ally charged jewels that are wear­able, con­tem­po­rary, rel­e­vant, young and witty, and lay­ered with mean­ing­ful cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences. We hope that our new watches will strengthen our po­si­tion as a se­ri­ous player in the watch world for col­lec­tors and dis­cern­ing watch lovers.”

“It is in the Fabergé tra­di­tion to al­ways work with the best work masters in ev­ery area.”

FABERGÉ SE­CRET GAR­DEN EAR­RINGS.

ROBERT BEN­VENUTO.

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