top of page
Fabergé-Perkhin-clock inv 3489-229-BR-27Nov13-s2.jpg

Photograph courtesy of Bruun-Rasmussen.

The main technical specifications of Fabergé clocks: some basics to consider.
26 May 2013.

Having handled dozens of Fabergé clocks, and having been able to dis-assemble and re-assemble many of them during cleaning or repair, I am sharing a few insights with you about the "dark art" of authenticating Fabergé pieces. Given how many "Fauxbergé" (a term coined by my friend Dr. Géza von Habsburg) items are out there on the market, the principle of caveat emptor always applies. And as you know full well, there is a certain level of complexity, on each of several levels, when looking at a piece in order to determine how confident one can be about its authenticity The devil, so to speak, is in the detail.

Here, I outline four basic elements that need particular attention when assessing a Fabergé clock's credentials:

1. clock hands

2. the rear cover, where Assay & makers' marks are found, and the strut

3. the clock movement

4. the presentation case, if present.

1. Clock hands. The majority of Fabergé clocks are equipped with Swiss-made double barrel movements by Möser & Cie. The firm had set up a branch in St. Petersburg at the time of Fabergé's business operations. These movements were bought in, saving time and fabrication costs, complete with their hands in gold, being usually of Louis XVI style. The chapters are indicated in Arabic numerals, with only a few notable exceptions. The close up image below shows a typical set of Fabergé clock hands. 

Fabergé cilcular clocks-09.jpg

2. Maker's marks and Assay marks on the back cover of the clock movement. One would typically expect to find the Workmaster's initials stamped alongside an Assay Mark from St. Petersburg or Moscow that denotes the purity of silver: 84 or 88 zolotnik marks are typically found on Fabergé silver clocks. Gold mounted clocks are usually fabricated in 56 zolotnik gold, that is equivalent to 14 carat gold. Typically the strut, typically made of silver, would also be marked with the Workmaster's initials and an Assay mark, as seen in the example below. Sometimes a scratched Inventory N° can be found. 

Fabergé cilcular clocks-10.jpg

3. The movement. One would typically expect the movement to be signed Hy Moser & Cie, along with an engraved serial number of that movement, as shown in the photograph below.  This example is Serial No. 25566. These Möser serial numbers are different from the Fabergé retail Inventory Numbers that are scratched by hand onto pieces, often on the lower exterior borders of frames or struts.. 

Sometimes, notably in very high-end pieces, movements by Vacheron Constantin are present. 

Fabergé cilcular clocks-11.jpg

4. The retailer's case. Sometimes, albeit infrequently, the clock is housed in an original Fabergé wooden case, with its branded silk cover lining and cream velvet fitted compartment. These are things of beauty in their own right, when authentic. Reputable dealers, such as Warstki in London and À La Vielle Russie in New York, provide leather cases with fitted interiors that match the precise shape of the item.  

Fabergé cilcular clocks-12.jpg

The fine Fabergé clock illustrated above is by Mikhaïl Perkhin, circa 1899-1903.  It is presented in a Fabergé fitted wooden case, thought to be of holly wood. The silk lining inside the cover shows the Imperial Russian Warrant and FABERGÉ in Cyrillic, along with St. Petersburg, Moscow and Odessa, where retail stores were operating at that time.

The item was sold by Sotheby's London, Lot 486 on 12 June 2007 for GBP 72.500.

Given how many variables need to be taken into consideration, there are no simple "rules" when authenticating a Fabergé clock. Each piece needs to be carefully analysed, on its own merit

If you would like to find out more about my services, or if you would like to explore an item in more detail, by assessing it with comparatives, feel free to drop me a line on the contact page!

- o0o -

bottom of page