Last week on World Animal Day, Fabergé, the Russian jewellery house, most famous for its bejewelled eggs, launched a limited edition watch series inspired by the five most iconic wild animals in Africa: the lion, the leopard, the rhinoceros, the elephant, and the Cape buffalo. Limited to just five numbered pieces per design, this stunning watch will help to support a portfolio of wildlife conservation projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Faberge has partnered with the Gemfields Foundation, the charitable arm of Gemfields for the launch.
Fabergé master craftsman André Martinez - a specialist in miniaturist artistic painting on watch dials - has hand-painted each dial to depict these majestic animals. Each one features a miniature painting of one of the five animals, on a mother-of-pearl dial. Whilst remaining true to traditional miniature painting techniques, these lacquers also meet high manufacturing standards, including resistance to UV rays, and are environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and non-toxic.
The dials are encased in 18k rose gold case with a bespoke caseback on each watch set, with five responsibly sourced Gemfields Zambian emeralds, one for each animal. Emeralds were chosen as they are said to symbolise hope, growth, life, fertility, and peace. Each caseback is also individually engraved with its piece number to illustrate that these are one-of-a-kind, collectible creations. The watches come with Alcantara straps, an Italian-made material that is carbon-neutral.
The watches that are part of the Altruist collection represent the perfect marriage of art and watchmaking. "Each watch takes almost 6 months to make. Our master craftsman, André Martinez, spent 30- 35 hours hand-painting each mother-of-pearl dial. The expertise required to achieve such miniature painted dials makes each watch totally unique," said Aurélie Picaud, Fabergé Timepieces Director.
Each watch contains a self-winding movement -- Vaucher Manufacture 3000 - which featured in the original Fabergé Altruist collection and continues in the new Altruist Wilderness Limited-Edition watches. "The design of the oscillating weight is inspired by the design of Fabergé cigarette cases from the past and it is made of 22k gold" says Picaud.
The limited-edition watches, which are priced at $45,000, are unisex. Five limited editions of five pieces each will be made. All 'Number 1' pieces for each animal are now available. Further numbered pieces will be made to order.
"We have seen an increasing desire from clients looking to invest in pieces that hold emotional value and have been crafted consciously. Sustainability has increasingly become of great importance to clients, who seek unique and special creations, those which honour time, creativity and skill," said Picaud.
Twenty five per cent of the retail price of each watch sold will be donated to the Gemfields Foundation for conservation and protection of wildlife and natural habitats, preserving what is left of Africa's great wildernesses.
The watches are available at select Fabergé boutiques and on Faberge.com.
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