Fabergé Inaugurates Rebirth With Exceptional Lady Compliquée
At Baselworld 2015 somewhat of an unheralded sensation took place. The reason? Well, it may hardly been noticeable from the outside, but Fabergé – which has had much less to do with complicated timepieces than eggs and jewelry for most of its existence – has undergone quite a transformation.
The luxury brand rooted in Peter Carl Fabergé’s legacy merged with colored gemstone specialist Gemfields in 2013. Fabergé had separated from its most recent workmaster, Pforzheim’s Victor Mayer, who owned the Fabergé license since 1989 through to about 2010.
The system of “workshop masters” was instituted in the early 1840s to oversee and create objects in Fabergé’s name and style. It was, in essence, an early system of franchising or licensing, and the workmasters were always exceptional craftsmen.
Baselworld 2015 marks a rebirth of sorts for Fabergé, and several important elements have launched.
* For one, a new Fabergé egg marking the one-hundredth anniversary of the last imperially commissioned Fabergé egg. (Fans of independent watchmaking may remember the most complicated Fabergé egg, which was created by AHCI member Paul Gerber in 2001. This was the Moon Phase Clock Egg, featuring a musical eight-day mechanical movement. But more on that in a future post.)
* New jewelry creations, inspired by nature, fashion, and femininity naturally featuring beautiful colored gemstones. The previous incarnation of Fabergé jewelry was heavy on colorful enamel; this new collection by the “artist jeweler” marks a bit of a break with that.
* Introduction of a global watch collection with four product lines (high jewelry, men’s haute horlogerie, ladies’ haute horlogerie, and a ladies’ core collection with automatic movements).
* A new line of men’s watches, whose flagship is a haute horlogerie time-only tourbillon timepiece created by Giulio Papi of Renaud & Papi called Visionnaire I.
* Naturally, there is also a base collection of ladies’ timepieces measuring 36 to 39 mm and at least partially featuring the enamel-over-guilloché look inspired by the eggs and utilized by workmaster Victor Mayer in the inaugural collection of wristwatches.
The ladies’ collection flagship, though, is something so rare and unique that it is likely to steal the show.
This name is quite unfortunate because it expresses nothing of the extreme creativity and expertise that has gone into this timepiece’s creation. Its playful mechanics can be attributed to no one else but Jean-Marc Wiederrecht of Agenhor as anyone following the luxury watch industry is bound to know upon seeing it.
Wiederrecht is one of the most intelligent human beings I know, both in terms of IQ and EQ. In my estimation, this has been the great secret of his success: not only does he know how to listen to his clients, but he actually empathizes with them, which allows him to pour his heart into his creations in pursuit of something beautiful, creative, and in most cases totally unique. And this is truer than true of the Fabergé Lady Compliquée.
Like a number of his best ideas, this one came to Jean-Marc because of travel. It is an interesting phenomenon: clearing one’s head of day-to-day activities often frees us. And brainstorming with other people is an equally mind-liberating activity; collaboration is a frequent catalyst for creativity.
As his friend (and one of my most esteemed friends and colleagues) Louis Nardin was about to set off on a round-the-world, year-long sabbatical, Wiederrecht asked him to keep his eyes peeled for unusual ideas that he might be able to translate into original mechanics.
Thus, inspired by the Buddhist philosophy of time not being linear (he spent much of this sabbatical in Asia), Nardin brought the idea of a fan to Wiederrecht in keeping with the latter’s predilection for retrograde mechanics. The idea was interesting, but at first Wiederrecht couldn’t visualize how to achieve it.
Then he went on holidays himself – to the place where he often gets his best ideas. Upon his return, he knew how to create a fan display and set about developing yet another piece of ingeniously playful mechanics aided by his son Laurent, who also works with him at the family-owned Agenhor, which develops complications for brands.
The fan as a peacock tail
This globally minded back story has now become the Lady Compliquée. And as you can imagine, time is not displayed here in a conventional manner.
First off, it is offered with two motifs: one a peacock (Lady Compliquée Peacock) whose tail acts as the retrograde minute hand. The other is called Lady Compliquée Winter, and here we see the mechanical retrograde fan actually looking like a fan.
The hours are read off on a revolving mother-of-pearl outer dial. The numerals have no up and no down; it is up to the owner to decide where – if any – reference marker is on the watch. A good marker could be the crown.
The minutes are a different story, though. The fan points to the current minute in retrograde manner, opening its lusciously lacquered, LIGA-manufactured sections as it goes along. Once it has reached 60 minutes, the fan snaps shut.
This is no ordinary retrograde, obviously. Jean-Marc and Laurent Wiederrecht invented a whole new system to accommodate it.
Naturally, too, this timepiece includes bedazzling jewels, particularly the Peacock version: 127 brilliant-cut diamonds, 31 Paraiba tourmalines, and 57 tsavorites are snow-set on the dial as a background to the exquisitely engraved white gold peacock. Another 54 brilliant-cut diamonds adorn the platinum case band.
For more information, please visit www.faberge.com.
Quick Facts Lady Compliquée Peacock
Case: 38 mm, platinum, bezel set with 54 brilliant-cut diamonds (1.83 ct)
Movement: proprietary manually wound Caliber 6901, 32.7 x 3.58 mm, 38 jewels, 242 components, 50-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph
Dial: 18-karat gold dial, 127 brilliant-cut diamonds (0.38 ct), 31 Paraiba tourmalines (0.23 ct), and 57 tsavorites (0.27 ct) snow-set; white gold peacock; time displays on mother-of-pearl; peacock tail crafted in LIGA nickel-phosphorous with white lacquer
Functions: hours (revolving dial), minutes (retrograde tail)