Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black

Angus Davies reviews a highly wearable ladies’ watch by Fabergé, inspired by a legendary Imperial Easter Egg of 1908. In this article, he calls upon the help of a female colleague to provide an insight into the ownership proposition of this tsarina-worthy timepiece.

This detailed review of the Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black

On Christmas Day, legions of excited children wake up early, eager to see the gifts ‘Santa’ has delivered during the night. Presents are unwrapped at breakneck speed and floors are littered with frantically discarded, torn paper. All parents will attest, children adore surprises. However, if we are honest, adults also enjoy moments of unexpected discovery.

Peter Carl Fabergé is synonymous with the creation of 50 Imperial Easter Eggs, made exclusively for the Russian Imperial family between 1885 and 1916. These eggs, usually suffused with enamel, gems and guilloché, often housed a surprise within. A gold hen, a rosebud and a miniature carriage are just some examples of the unexpected treats housed within these paragons of oval-shaped objets d’art.

The Peacock Egg was created in 1908 and made of rock crystal, silver and gold. The surprise housed within the Peacock Egg was an automaton which could be removed from the egg. Once wound, the peacock automaton moved around, rotated its head and lastly, unfurled and closed its enamel tail. This Imperial Easter Egg was the inspiration for an incredible modern-day timepiece, the Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock.

The inaugural version of the Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Ref 1542/1 won the prestigious ‘Ladies’ High-Mech Watch Prize’ in 2015. Housed within a 38mm platinum case, this watch was adorned with numerous diamonds (54 on the case, 127 on the dial), tourmalines and tsavorites. The hours were proclaimed on a rotating hour track and the minutes were expressed with a combination of fixed and moving blades, artistically emulating a peacock’s feathers.

Beyond its aesthetic beauty, this first version of the Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock housed incredible watchmaking know-how and cutting-edge technology. Subsequently, the luxurious Maison revealed animations of the watch, each employing the Calibre 6901 hand-wound movement and all with their own unique mien.

This latest version of the Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black, Ref 1929/1, repeats the award-winning performance of the Ref 1542/1 with its flirtatious plume unfurling, however, in this instance, eschewing gems. Recently, I had the opportunity to appraise the watch at close quarters and my wife and Editor, Heidi Davies graciously tried on the watch for size.

The dial

Where other versions of the Fabergé Lady Compliquée are bedecked with gems, the Ref 1929/1 exhibits a quieter, more understated character. The dial is presented in matt black lacquer. The peacock is hand-engraved and sits majestically in the lower portion of the dial.

Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black

A rotating hour track hugs the periphery of the dial. Each hour is indicated with white cursive numerals. The prevailing hour, shown adjacent the crown, is highly intelligible.

The aforementioned peacock possesses eight conspicuous plumes. Fabergé refers to these plumes as blades. Four feathers, those biased to the right-hand side, move, while the blades on the left-hand side remain static. As time advances, the dynamic feathers unfurl, with the lead feather (rightmost) kissing an adjacent minute track, indicating the prevailing minutes. On reaching ’60’, the dynamic feathers collectively return to zero and the whole courtship ritual begins anew.

Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black

While the hour and minutes indication proves eminently simple to interpret, the technical complexity behind the scenes cannot be overstated. For example, each of the four dynamic blades has to move at a different speed to its neighbours in order to accurately the depict time.

The feathers are intricately formed, created using LIGA technology. LIGA was invented in Germany and its name is an abbreviation for LIthographie, Galvanoformung and Abformung. In English it is expressed as Lithography, Electroforming and Moulding. This technique is used for making small, intricately shaped parts that would be difficult to achieve using other fabrication methods such as CNC.

LIGA is an image transfer process using visible and UV light, electron beam, ion beam, laser, machining and x-ray. It can be used for making intricately shaped parts or moulds. Typically, it has been used in the watch industry for making movement parts to infinitesimal tolerances. However, Fabergé has ingeniously employed LIGA for making the feathers. Each feather is incredibly detailed, incorporating beautiful textures and patterns.

The case

Considering its intended female audience, the Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black is generously proportioned, measuring a desirable 38mm in diameter. Heidi said the watch exceptionally comfortable to wear and she found its scale much to her liking.

Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black

The Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black Ref 1929/1 is more affordable than most of its siblings. This is a consequence of forgoing a gem-set dial and case ensemble. Another area which has helped Fabergé make this watch more accessible relates to the type of metal employed. The Ref 1542/1 and several other haute joaillerie variants feature a platinum case, however, the Ref 1929/1 is housed in 18-carat white gold.

A domed sapphire crystal sits above the dial and is treated with anti-reflective treatment. At no stage did I observe any glare with this domed glass and the readability proved excellent. The benefit of the domed sapphire is that it bathes the dial with light, augmenting legibility. Furthermore, the domed profile allows the wearer to enjoy exquisite lateral views of the peacock and feathers.

Handling the case bestows a tactile experience par excellence. Every element of the case is supremely smooth and the black alligator strap proffers a baby-soft caress.

The movement

Fabergé turned to watchmaking genius, Jean-Marc Wiederrecht, owner of AGENHOR, tasking him with making the Calibre 6901 hand-wound movement. The two companies enjoy a close working relationship. Indeed, Wiederrecht has helped with the making of the Fabergé Visionnaire DTZ and the Visionnaire Chronograph.

Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black

Wiederrecht views the world of haute horlogerie through a prism of unrivalled creativity. I have met him on a couple of occasions and listened in awe, amazed at his capacity to innovate.

Consistent with Fabergé’s esteemed reputation, the Calibre 6901 is finished to an exalted standard. The bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève motif and incorporate golden engraved text. The mainplate is embellished with perlage, manifest with a sea of circular graining adjacent the balance wheel and beneath the click. Screws sit within gleaming sinks and the anglage is executed by time-served hands. Indeed, I expended much time staring at the bridges through a loupe, simply marvelling at the glinting bevels.

The frequency of the balance is 21,600 VpH (3Hz) and the movement contains 242 components, 38 of which are jewels. The power reserve is 50 hours.

Closing remarks

Fabergé does not subscribe to mediocrity or aesthetic conservatism. Its watches are special, enriched with flourishes of ingenuity and playful design. 

A key strength of the Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black Ref 1929/1 is that the absence of gems and the reduced mass of the white gold case make this version better suited to daily wear than the inaugural Ref 1542/1. However, the latest version is still an ideal accoutrement to a ballgown. Moreover, with an asking price of £31,440, this particular version is more accessible and, considering its high-end specification, superb value for money.

Despite the time indication proving simple to read, it harnesses incredible complexity. LIGA technology has delivered incredibly intricate and beautifully formed feathers. Furthermore, the Calibre 6901 is an exemplar of fine watchmaking. The superb finishing befits a watch of this standing. Often a retrograde minutes display quaffs energy, however, AGENHOR has clearly overcome such obstacles, manifest with this model’s impressive 50 hour power reserve.

The brand has looked to its history for inspiration and distilled various ideas into a contemporary, elegant watch. When the peacock’s feathers unfurl, the hidden surprise is revealed for the delectation of the onlooker. Once again, Fabergé has demonstrated incredible creativity and showcased much watchmaking expertise for those individuals who appreciate breathtaking designs and sublime craftsmanship.

Exhibiting brand at The Watchmakers Club event 5th June 2019 – https://thewatchmakersclub.com/

Further reading

https://www.faberge.com

Technical specifications

  • Model: Fabergé Lady Compliquée Peacock Black
  • Reference: 1929/1
  • Case: 18-carat white gold; diameter 38mm; water resistance 3 ATM (30 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and caseback
  • Functions: Hours; retrograde minutes
  • Movement: Calibre 6901hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 VpH (4Hz); 38 jewels; power reserve = 50 hours; 242 components
  • Strap: Black alligator leather with 18-carat white gold pin buckle
  • Price – £31,440 (RRP as at 25.5.2019)