The Fabergé Flirt counters the winter blues with vibrant shades and playful styling. However, beyond the pulchritudinous appearance of each model, this collection of watches incorporates high-end movements and quality construction. Angus Davies embraces his feminine side and examines the brand’s eye-catching models at close quarters.
The Christmas festivities and New Year revelry have passed and January’s sad demeanour is omnipresent. Despite tear-filled skies quenching my garden’s thirst, there is not a bloom in sight. For the next few weeks, my view of the barren landscape is observed through a monochrome lens.
Those readers who share my craving for a few ebullient shades may well succumb to the cheerful appearance of a Fabergé Flirt. This model tantalises onlookers with its coquettish appearance, craving attention with its curvaceous lines, prepossessing features and bewitching complexion.
Perusing the Fabergé website, I counted nine different versions of the Flirt.
Image – Green enamel, hand guilloché dial – Ref. 1502/8
Some dial options incorporate gems, enamel, hand guilloché and even a sparkling sea of diamonds. These versions are 39mm in diameter and feature gold cases. They exhibit refinement and timeless styling.
Image – Full set dial – Ref. 1508/5
However, the Flirt has an alter ego. Gems and elaborately decorated dials are eschewed in favour of ebulliently-hued dials and cases. These models are slightly smaller, measuring just 36mm, and are encased in white or rose gold. Decidedly jolly and slightly playful, these models attracted my gaze and are the focal point of this article.
Image – white dial – Ref. 1494/10
The smaller, 36mm model is available in five colourways. The white and black dial options are comparatively conservative when contrasted with their extrovert siblings. Indeed, the blue, orange and yellow variants crave attention and are unlikely to pass unnoticed.
The dial is presented on two levels. The shade of the upper level is lighter than its counterpart below. Each hour is depicted with either elongated Roman numerals or supremely slender batons. The luxury marque has used a laser-etching technique to create the openworked indexes, allowing the lower membrane to peep through the various openings in the upper dial surface. This approach grants delightful tonal contrast, augmenting the overall allure of the dial.
Although the bright palette and matching rubber strap imbue the smaller Fabergé Flirt with a dose of modernity, these watches also incorporate some classical elements. For example, the hour and minute hands subscribe to Breguet’s legendary style. However, upholding the Maison’s reputation for surprises, the circular eyelets, typical of Breguet hands, have morphed into an egg shape, a subtle reference to the company’s legendary Imperial Easter eggs.
While many ladies are drawn to larger watches and even men’s models, there remains a strong following for traditionally feminine case sizes. The Flirt’s 36mm case sidesteps the bulk of the aforementioned men’s models while at the same time it surpasses the diminutive proportions of some ladies’ timepieces. With its 36mm housing, the dial canvas is large enough to lucidly and stylishly impart time, while avoiding unnecessary bulk.
The upper sapphire crystal is domed, while the case back is fitted with a flat pane of sapphire crystal, affording views of the self-winding movement.
Fabergé has not limited the playful use of colour merely to the dial of the watch. A lacquered circlet, matching the shade of the dial, graces the case band. This soupçon of brightly-hued ebullience provides a clever connection between the dial and case.
The crown sits unobtrusively against the case and features a neat rope-like grip, conferring ease of adjustment. A moonstone graces the vertical flank of the crown and is inspired by the brand’s cigarette cases of yesteryear.
Despite its flamboyant attire, this watch features a brilliant mind. Its automatic movement, the ‘Self-winding 3000’, is crafted by the high-end specialist firm, Vaucher Manufacture. This esteemed Manufacture is an exemplar of haute horlogerie, crafting movements for an array of prestigious brands. It is known for high quality finishing and impressive reliability.
The Self-winding 3000 contains 193 parts, including 28 jewels. Twin barrels deliver 50 hours of autonomous operation. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz), while the rate is adjusted with a raquette.
The oscillating weight is formed of 22-carat gold and is adorned with Fabergé’s distinctive fan-type motif. The bridges are embellished with Côtes de Genève rayonnantes and the plate is decorated with perlage.
On one hand, the dial of the Fabergé says little, owing to its limited inventory of indications and yet the watch also says much, revealing the vivacious character of its wearer. Indeed, the Flirt brims with style and befits effervescent ladies with a thirst for life.
The dial imparts information cleanly and the modest scale of the case proffers universal appeal. At the heart of the Flirt is a winning combination of brains and beauty. The Self-winding 3000 deserves examination. It is delightfully appointed and promises years of faithful service.
Image – Gem set bezel – Ref. 1496
Fabergé has shown that style and virtue can still be accessible. The Flirt 36mm is £12,840 (RRP as at 6.1.2020), a not an inconsequential sum, but considering its gold case and Vaucher movement, it does represent value for money. I do think the brand could stimulate demand further with the addition of cheaper steel models for those ladies who appreciate the Flirt’s glamorous appearance but who don’t wish to part with a five-figure sum.
Image – Black dial – Ref. 1680/5
The brightly coloured versions of the Flirt 36mm may be more susceptible to changing fashions than their safer, sober siblings. The black and white dial options should age more gracefully. Likewise, the Flirt 39mm also promises lasting eye-appeal. However, despite having made these comments, I would still favour a blue or yellow Flirt as an accompaniment to a voguish haute couture ensemble.
- Model: Fabergé Flirt
- Case: 18-carat rose gold or white gold; diameter 36mm; height 11.06mm; water resistance 3ATM (30 metres); sapphire crystals to front and back
- Functions: Hours; minutes
- Movement: Self-winding 3000; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 28 jewels; power reserve 50 hours.
- Strap: Matching rubber or alligator leather strap depending on model paired with a gold pin buckle
- Price: £12,840 (RRP as at 6.1.2020)