Aurélie Picaud, Fabergé
Angus Davies interviews Aurélie Picaud, Fabergé Timepieces Director and enquires about the rapid rise of the horological arm of this luxury maison. During his conversation he gains a fascinating insight into the work of the Timepieces Director and the decision making process behind some of the brand’s creations.
This interview with Aurélie Picaud, Fabergé includes details of the brand’s products and, in particular, its capacity to surprise horophiles with ingenious product details.
The very name Fabergé is synonymous with bejewelled eggs, jewellery and the Russian Imperial Court, however, in recent times the maison has come to prominence with another product category, haute horlogerie.
Fabergé has been prolific in creating new timepieces of late. Female audiences have been indulged with mesmerising models, including the fabulous Lady Levity and the beguiling Lady Compliquée Peacock. However, as an alpha male, I feel particularly drawn to the masculine Visionnaire I, the fascinating Visionnaire DTZ and the surprisingly good value Altruist.
Fabergé Visionaire 1
Recently, I was granted the opportunity to interview the company’s ‘Timepieces Director’, Aurélie Picaud and grasped the opportunity to learn more about the brand’s horological ambitions and the lady who is steering this company’s watchmaking arm.
In conversation with Aurélie Picaud, Fabergé (AP) by Angus Davies (AD)
Aurélie Picaud, Fabergé has worked in the watch industry for the last 13 years with ‘key roles at Swatch Group, Omega and Audemars Piguet’. After graduating from ITECH Engineering School in Lyon she went on to work in Germany, Switzerland and the UK.
AD: Having worked for Omega and Audemars Piguet, how is it different working for Fabergé?
AP: Fabergé is a small company, the timepiece division is a little like a start-up where we are able to make quick decisions.
I often discuss ideas with Sean Gilbertson, our CEO, and arrive at a decision very quickly, allowing us to bring products to market much more quickly. This is why we had the opportunity to develop three new Fabergé movements in two years.
In 2013, we started with a blank page and you seldom find this opportunity with other brands, hence, in terms of creativity, it is like a dream.
AD: Can you provide an insight into your ‘typical day’. Is there a ‘typical day’ doing your job?
AP: There is no ‘typical day’ because we are a small team of five people, three in Geneva and two in London and we assume several roles with each day differing from the last. One week each month I am in London with my team and the rest of the time I am travelling.
AD: As the Timepieces Director of Fabergé with an engineering background, what is your role regarding new product development? Do you conceive the idea and then oversee others bringing it to fruition or are you very much hands-on with both the design and engineering of the timepieces
AP: I am not a watchmaker nor a designer, I oversee the process, looking at the design, suppliers and the suitability of components. For example, I look at the dial and the case based on the target price. I also ensure the teams involved are working well together in order to deliver the product on time and to specification.
Fabergé Lady Libertine II
AD: How would you define Fabergé timepieces?
AP: It is important that our watches are consistent in character to the other product categories of Fabergé, for example we try to layer materials. However, this does not mean that every watch we make will involve the layering of materials, but it is certainly one of our design codes. Ideally, we try to incorporate a pattern which reminds us of past Fabergé designs. We also like to play with colours. We take much inspiration from past products.
Our key difference is the ‘surprise’, the ‘unexpected’ and this is the main area where we try to differentiate ourselves from other luxury brands. We try to incorporate lots of small details which deliver surprise.
AD: While Fabergé is clearly a luxury brand, I was surprised at the price of the Altruist in 18-carat rose gold. The $15,000 asking price seems, comparatively speaking, aggressively priced. Can you elaborate more on this pricing strategy?
Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ
AP: I am glad you were surprised – this was our intention. The Visionnaire 1 was a very limited series of watches, very highly specified and priced accordingly. However, the Visionnaire DTZ and Altruist are very keenly priced considering their specification. It is very important to us that our watches are competitively priced, especially considering their high quality and complexity.
I was struck by the wisdom and understanding of Aurélie Picaud, Fabergé. Indeed, despite her youth she clearly has a breadth of experience and profound insight into the watchmaking industry. Since embarking on its journey three years ago, Fabergé has collaborated, in my opinion very successfully, with Agenhor, Audemar Piguet Renaud & Papi and Vaucher. However, the maison continues to carry out more tasks internally and creating ever more technical and interesting watches.
Fabergé Lady Levity
While Fabergé exploits avant-garde ideas, colour, mechanical movements and materials, similar to other watch companies, it is the brand’s capacity to surprise which makes it stand out in the marketplace.
I was already fascinated by Fabergé, however, having chatted to Aurélie Picaud, Fabergé my interest in the brand has grown exponentially. It is my intention to spend more time in the coming months reviewing the company’s ingenious collection of high-end timepieces and discovering more surprises for the delectation of ESCAPEMENT readers.