top of page
Henrik Wigstrom Inv 22241.jpg
Photograph courtesy of Wartski London.
A pair of  similar Fabergé nephrite clocks of the same design by Henrik Wigström.

 26 October 2023 (first published in Autumn 2012)

On 18 July 2012, I visited Wartski’s wonderful former store on Grafton Street, where Katherine Purcell was kind enough to allow me to handle a magnificent Fabergé Nephrite Clock, pictured above, fabricated by Workmaster Henrik Wigström in 1912. 


Wartski’s description of the piece reveals an interesting provenance: 

“Purchased from Fabergé's London Branch at 173 New Bond Street by Mrs. Leeds for £75 on 4th December 1915. Mrs. Leeds, an American heiress from Cleveland Ohio, resided in Grosvenor Square and was one of Fabergé's most important customers, acquiring a total of sixty-five pieces mainly between 1915 and 1916. She later married Prince Christopher of Greece and became Princess Anastasia of Greece.The collection of King George I of the Hellenes, father of Prince Christopher.” 

Fabergé clock design Wigström Album.jpg

The design drawing for this clock is found in Henrik Wigström’s Workshop Album, dated 12 April 1912, shown above, from Ulla Tillander-Godenhielm et al. “Golden Years of Fabergé”, 2000, p.135.


The first production N° 12861 is dated 12 April 1912, and it suggests that the laurel swags and clock bezel were fabricated in 56 zolotnik gold, which is equivalent to 14 carat gold (namely a metal purity of around 50% gold to 50% alloy). We can see that the clock with Inventory N° 22241 matches the original design precisely, with its green gold laurel swags, set with cabochon rubies, and a clock bezel in rose-gold ribbon-tied laurel leaves. 

 The second reference under the design drawing is dated 25 June 1912, with the production N° 13135. This second order is annotated as being made in 88.8 zolotnik silver vermeil. To my mind, the extra 0.8 zolotnik might confirm that Fabergé exceeded the minimum required silver purity standards of the day… thereby ensuring that his pieces would pass the Assay Office’s purity tests with ease. 

Production N° 12861 Inv N° 22241.jpg

A second nephrite desk clock based on the same design is pictured in Alexander von Solodkoff's book "Fabergé Clocks", London, 1986, p.15. 

It has a scratched Inventory № 22457 recorded in the London Stock book:

“30 Dec, Lord Vernon, Clock, nephrite, enamel dial &c, Inv № 22457, £70, R 338”.

It is a simplified execution of the same design, without the laurel swags with cabochon rubies around the base and with a plain egg & dart motif running along the border. The type of Nephrite jade is also visibly different, having a slightly stronger "spinach flecking" in the material. The metal decorative elements are fabricated in 88 zolotnik silver that has been vermeil plated in gold.

Fabergé HW Inv 22457-02.jpg

A side-by-side comparison, shown below, of both clocks reveals another subtle difference, aside the obvious gap in the border around the chapters of the enamelled clock face in the second piece. In the first clock, the green gold chased laurel leaves of the clock bezel rotate in the same clockwise direction and the ribbon ties are contrasted in rose gold. In the second clock, the chased laurels on the bezel have been gold vermeil plated, and they radiate outwards in opposite directions, starting from the hour 3 mark (this ought to have been re-positioned to start at the hour 6 mark, after cleaning and re-assembly, in my opinion).

Side by Side Nephrite clocks.jpg

The calculations that I have made using the Workshop Production Numbers and the Retail Inventory Numbers suggest some interesting implications for workshop production: how many designs were executed, and manufacturing in general. The chart below aims to describe the process from the design drawing through to the retail sale of the finished piece, contrasting Workshop Production Numbers with Fabergé Retail Inventory Numbers.  

We note that the dates of both production numbers are from 12 April to 25 June 1912, close to the zenith of Fabergé’s business. 

This suggests that 274 pieces were fabricated during a period of 53 working week days, translating into approximately 5 pieces per day.

There is a lower total of 216 Retail Inventory Numbers between № 22241 and № 22457, with a gap of around three years between the sale of both pieces in the Fabergé London Store.  

Fabergé clocks Prod Inv nos.jpg

An abridged version of this article about these two clocks was published in the Fabergé Research Site Newsletter of Autumn 2012, which you can read if you scroll down to the bottom of the page. 


- o0o -

bottom of page