NEW YORK — Fabergé’s Golden Peacock Egg — valued at $20 million and part of Maurice Sandoz’s The Sandoz Collection — is being seen by the U.S. public for the first time since Sandoz purchased it.
This and other pieces the renowned collector acquired from Peter Carl Fabergé — along with two new watches from co-sponsor Parmigiani Fleurier — are just some of the items on display at “Mechanical Wonders: Antique Automatons and Contemporary Watchmaking,” an exhibit that runs through Nov. 26 at A La Vieille Russie here. It is the first time Sandoz’s entire collection of Fabergé pieces and watches has been seen in its entirely in the U.S.
The month-long event, presented by A La Vieille Russie, was restored by Parmigiani Fleurier president Michel Parmigiani. In addition to Fabergé’s Miniature Piano, the Youssoupoff Clock, the Golden Peackock and the Imperial Swan Egg, it includes timepieces, pocket watches, a gold, pearl and enamel perfume spray gun, snuff boxes and automaton animals (such as a gold, diamond, pearl, enamel and turquoise frog, snake, mouse and a caterpillar).
Parmigiani Fleurier chief executive officer Jean-Marc Jacot said that when the Sandoz Family Foundation decided to show the collection here, the location had to be A La Vieille Russie since Sandoz acquired most of his “marvels” there after World War II and forged a personal relationship with the antiques gallery. While most of the items on display — including a varicolored gold snuff box that opens to reveal a magician answering questions such as “What gives an illusion of happiness?” (money) — belong to the Sandoz Family Foundation, additional pieces once owned by Sandoz, such as a bronze, enamel and glass cage with singing birds with a clock on its underside, were borrowed from Switzerland’s watch museum Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle, in Le Locle.
To mark the occasion, Parmigiani Fleurier has introduced two limited edition timepieces. The first, of which 60 will be produced next year (30 in white and 30 in rose gold), has telescopic hands, an oval-shaped gold and grand feu enamel dial, an Hermès alligator strap and retails for $95,000. The second is a minute repeater with blued steel cathedral chimes, a white mother of pearl dial and white gold casing, the time highlighted in a half-moon opening. This will retail for $685,000 and only four will be made.
“I had an interest, apart from the restoration, and this was creating unique watches,” said Parmigiani, a renowned restorer whose relationship with the Sandoz family spans nearly three decades “[But with this exhibition] we wanted to put everything that Maurice Sandoz was about in one place. It’s [also] allowed us to have the history of the brand here — through Sandoz’s pieces and the new timepieces we’ve created. We’ve achieved the feat of producing ‘dream pieces,’ the same type [of items] Sandoz dreamed of.”
The introduction of the limited edition watches are part of the 15-year-old brand’s plans to focus its energies in the U.S. market for the next two years, according to Jacot.
“We want more visibility in the U.S,” Jacot said. “To be an international brand, you need to have a strong presence here. This is the market where we are putting a lot of investment.”
For the moment, the company will develop its retail presence in the U.S. by forging partnerships with key retailers and growing the number of doors product is carried in. Jacot said opening freestanding stores here isn’t in the brand’s immediate plans.
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