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Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph Review

Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph

I myself was at the original launch of the Visionnaire and, while it wasn’t exactly an important milestone in my life, it was obvious that it was a big deal for Fabergé. The watch wasn’t just a branded sales diversification, but something that the jeweller had really invested in and taken a chance on…

They’d enlisted the help of Agenhor, the best watchmaker you’ve never heard of and the name behind the horological successes of Van Cleef & Arpels and Graff. They’d given master horologist Jean-Marc Wiederrecht free reign to create something entirely new. They had seriously invested.

The entire concept was that the centre of the dial, when used correctly, could become a new element in itself. Hands on radial discs freed up the space and in the first edition the date was placed at the very centre and magnified. It was a novel idea in itself, but also left room for a lot more to come with the same idea.

Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph

Which brings us to the Visionnaire Chronograph. The concept is the same as the original, but the watch has come a long way from a simple date (or in the case of the DTZ, second time zone) at the centre. Jean-Marc has managed to miniaturise an entire chronograph to fit in exactly the same space.

It remains readable, mainly because it uses the same indexes as the main hands so there’s no confusion of subdials dotted everywhere. It looks slightly less elegant than before – but what chronograph doesn’t? Useful complications are rarely the prettiest.

Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph

It does help that the Chronograph is a tiny bit wider than the older versions; when you’re dealing with elements this small a single millimetre helps more than you’d think. If anything, it could use an extra millimetre or so, if only because the Visionnaire feels rather small on the wrist. It could be more comfortable as well with slightly more curved lugs, but it’s certainly not ungainly and fits under most jackets and looser shirt sleeves.

The full rose gold version I tried on wasn’t too heavy but still had a nice weight to it and, even though I’m not normally a fan of rose gold, looked utterly fantastic. The only downside was that being in gold I was less inclined to play with the chronograph pushers as I might have been. I doubt my pathetic digits could harm it, but I didn’t want to try.

Turning the watch over it looks at first glance like a manual wind with an absence of rotor from that side. It’s not. Jean-Marc simply decided that having the rotor in the usual place was a boring idea, instead placing it at the front of the watch. The majority of the dial is in fact the rotor.

Fabergé Visionnaire Chronograph

In some watches (mainly Perrelet) that makes it a bit too prominent and out there. Fabergé has done a good job of blending it in with the rest of the watch. The movement’s there if you look closely, but you won’t constantly see it moving out of the corner of your eye.

Not that the Visionnaire Chronograph needs movement to catch the eye. Even more than Jean-Marc’s other creations, it’s an inventive exploration of time. It just happens to be from one of the most legendary jewellers in the world.

What to wear: The Visionnaire can’t help but catch the eye so let it have the spotlight. Gold demands tailoring, but keep it toned-down with darker colours. You can even get away with a more casual silhouette. Either way, you don’t need to dress like a Tsar to pull it off.

Where to wear it: Rooftop bars are ideal provided they’re swanky enough. You want somewhere status matters as much as cool and you can show off the watch’s unique look, preferably holding a cocktail in the same hand. Plus, a view always helps; it is called the Visionnaire after all.

Price: £35,910, more details at Fabergé.

About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.