What's the World's Most Valuable Watch?
Tuesday - 19 March 2013
The world's most expensive timepiece sold in London in 2007, yet it's story takes us back over a 100 years to 19th century Russia.
An Easter Egg Fit For An Empress
St. Petersburg, Russia, 1885.
It's 20 years since Czar Alexander III got engaged to his now wife, Maria Fedorovna.
To celebrate the anniversary of their engagement, Alexander decides to make this year's Easter extra special for Empress Maria. Alexander goes to the renowned craftsman and jeweller, Peter Carl Fabergé, and asks him to create an Easter egg Maria will remember forever.
Peter Carl Fabergé is a Master Goldsmith. He spent his youth travelling around Europe, learning his craft from the top goldsmiths in France, Germany and England. During that time, he loved visiting the galleries of Europe's leading museums to see the beautiful objects on display.
Everything he absorbed on his travels, he pours into making the Easter egg. Maria must be delighted with the egg. Peter Carl's father, Gustav, had been jeweller of choice for many of Russia's nobility, and Peter Carl wants this to continue.
Peter Carl - together with dozens of craftsmen under his command - fashions an egg from enamelled gold. Opening the egg revealed a gold yolk. Hidden inside the gold yolk was a golden chicken. Opening the chicken revealed a miniature Imperial Crown, from which a Ruby in the shape of the egg is suspended.
Peter Carl admires his creation. One of the most beautiful pieces he's ever made. But will Maria like it?
An Engagement Gift for a Bride-To-Be Who Has Everything
Monte Carlo, 1905.
Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild, a member of the uber-wealthy Rothschild family, has a dilemma. Her brother is getting married. What engagement present can she give to her future sister-in-law, a woman who - once she marries into the Rothschild family - will have everything?
Béatrice turns to her friend and distant relative, Edouard Ephrussi. Edouard lives in Baku, Azerbaijan, and is sure to be able to pick up an exotic gift. Edouard puzzles over what to do. Nothing available in Azerbaijan seems suitable for a Rothschild bride. Then he remembers the stories from Russia of a jeweller with a magical touch. He travels to St. Petersburg and meets with Peter Carl Fabergé to help him solve the dilemma.
Peter Carl tells Edouard about the gifts he's been making for Empress Maria. Using these gifts as inspiration, they come up with the perfect engagement gift for a Rothschild bride.
The World's Most Valuable Timepiece
What happened when Empress Maria received the golden egg for Easter? To Alexander's joy, she fell immediately in love with it. In fact, the golden egg was such a success that Czar Alexander III had a jewel-encrusted Imperial egg commissioned every Easter from Peter Carl Fabergé.
From 1887, Peter Carl was given full creative freedom in the design of the Imperial Easter Eggs. The tradition continued until 1917, even after Czar Alexander III's reign, with 50 Imperial Eggs created in total. Forty two Imperial eggs survive to this day.
Only in 1905, no Imperial Easter egg was commissioned, because of the war between Russian and Japan. This meant Peter Carl had time on his hands when Edouard visited, looking for the perfect engagement gift.
"Let's create a beautiful egg for the bride-to-be," Peter Carl said to Eduard.
The egg was indeed beautiful. Hand-crafted from translucent pink enamel and gold, it is fronted with a fully working clock. Every hour, a diamond set cockerel rises up from the top of the egg, flapping his wings, nodding his head, and crowing for fifteen seconds.
In 2007, over a century after it was commissioned, the egg was sold by the Rothschild family in a Christie's auction. The Fabergé egg-clock fetched £8.9 million, making it the world's most valuable timepiece.
"It's one of the most beautiful, valuable and most intricate Fabergé eggs ever," said the buyer, Alexander Ivanov.
Would you like a touch of the Fabergé magic? Please browse our Fabergé collection to find your perfect Fabergé timepiece.