HBA: As a famous historical brand, how do you bring Fabergé’s heritage to the contemporary watches collections?
AP: In the pre-1917 era, almost everyone knows Fabergé just for their bejeweled eggs, but (and even I didn’t know this before starting here) they were actually also creating watches, clocks, integrated eggs and other objects to tell the time in a new way.
When the Bolshevik revolution happened in 1917 everything was stopped, so when we re-launched Fabergé watches in 2015 we wanted to make sure the first ladies model had the same brand values – the Lady Compliquée.
Lady Compliquée timepiece with emeralds, Fabergé
HBA: How does the watch do this?
AP: The 1908 Fabergé "Peacock Egg" inspired the idea for the Lady Compliquée: the peacock was an automaton inside the egg that could be wound so that it would start walking outside. It was very impressive.
This watch only indicates the hours and minutes, but in a very complicated way in terms of movement (that becomes simple once you know how to read it!). You have the rotating bezel indicating the hours so you read them at the crown, and the peacock’s moving feathers show the minutes on the little dial. It’s more of a poetic complication than anything; we want to tell stories. because today people don’t really need a watch to tell the time.
Fabergé's famous bejeweled eggs inspire the collections today, such as the Palais Tsarskoye Selo turquoise locket, Dhs31,630
HBA: What led you to your role today?
AP: I don’t have a classic journey at all. I finished engineering school before working in the luxury car industry, finding new materials for their interiors. I really learned a lot, but I need to work with passion and could tell I was not completely passionate about what I was doing.
I didn’t know anything about the watch industry, but then one of my girlfriends sent me a job posting for Swatch Group. There I worked with all their brands, discovering watchmaking and the way watchmakers created these complications. I completely fell in love with the product and the passion of the people. That’s when I realised I needed to work in product development, and worked with Omega and Audemars Piguet before joining Fabergé in 2013.
Aurélie Picaud, Timepieces Director at Fabergé
HBA: As a woman working in the watches industry, have you encountered any particular challenges?
AP: The challenge is that we are preconditioned by society. I think that as a woman you sometimes think the watchmaking industry is intimidating because it consists mostly of men, and I think that everyone has to just think of themself as an individual asset, regardless of whether you are a woman or a man. Saying that, the watchmaking industry is really changing and more and more women are here, which is good. But as a woman we need to think more “I can do it.”
HBA: What is your key advice for a woman looking to buy her first complicated watch?
AP: Look at the brands who are dedicated to women’s timepieces – not just quartz and pink dials – but real watches for women with beautiful mechanisms. Understand how the brands are thinking, for example, how the mechanism works and where the production is done. Even meet with the artisans behind the watch if you can – a true luxury brand should be able to offer you all these things.
Fabergé Dalliance timepiece with Gemfields rubies
HBA: What are your personal impressions of female watch tastes in the Middle East?
People are very interested and looking for a unique offering here, so it’s a hugely important market. Coloured gemstones really appeal, so sometimes there are special editions for the Middle East.
However, I think the future trend will go towards more unisex watches, because the cliché of creating women’s watches in mother-of-pearl in pink or baby blue, or adding a few diamonds to a men’s watch that has been reduced in size, doesn’t work anymore. The cliché is that women don’t care about complications, and I really don’t think that’s true.
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