Fabergé brings the ancient Japanese art of Kaga-Maki-e to limited-edition watches

A part of their Altruist collection, the iconic jeweller brand has partnered with 26 years old female Maki-e artisan Mitsuki Tsuji, who works at the Thounsai Atelier in Japan.

October 11, 2022: Fabergé has Introduced a new series of limited-edition watches to its Altruist collection, which gives a tribute to the strength of animals. Crafted from 18k gold, these creations feature a craft technique that has never been featured in Fabergé watches: the ancient Japanese art of Kaga-Maki-e. The limited-edition collection features three hand-decorated watch dials depicting a tiger, a lion and an eagle. These powerful animals have been applied to each dial by a female Maki-e artisan in Japan, each taking two to three months to be meticulously hand-painted.

Faberge maki-e lion watch
Maki-e is an ancient yet sophisticated lacquer technique that originated in Japan and literally translated as ‘sprinkled picture’. Images are created by hand-painted striking designs in lacquer with a fine brush, and layers of gold or silver dust are sprinkled over the lacquer while it is still wet. Only a small number of artisans in Japan are capable of carrying out this rare technique. The lacquers are formed with natural resin from the ‘Japanese lacquer tree’, Rhus verniciflua. Environmentally friendly, these are the same lacquers used as glue over 13,000 years ago. Maki-e has evolved over a long period, with evidence of the technique found at the Shosohin, an Imperial Treasury built in the 8th century.
Fabergé partnered with a young female Maki-e artisan on this limited-edition project. Mitsuki Tsuji, 26 years old, works at the Thounsai Atelier in Japan. Ms. Tsuji admired her father’s artwork while growing up, and after high school, she decided to train with the Maki-e master artist, Isshu Tamura, a pioneer in the art of Maki-e, with over 20 years of experience. 

Faberge maki-e eagle watch

This creation represents the perfect marriage of art and watchmaking and features a Vaucher Manufacture self-winding movement. Designed, manufactured and assembled in traditional fashion, the calibres use an oscillating weight decorated in the Fabergé style. To highlight this movement's unique and rare character, it is produced in 22k gold, bringing more accuracy to the movement due to its weight.
From the intricate, traditional motif on the dial to the tactile pleasure derived from winding its unique crown, the Fabergé Altruist is an elegant, three-handed 41mm watch resolutely modern in its construction. The collection is wound and adjusted by a Fabergé crown with a pivoting finger grip, which swings out to offer a winding experience and a playful, kinetic element.

Faberge maki-e tiger watch
“We are very glad that we have been able to partner with the young female Japanese artist, Mitsuki, for the new Altruist Maki-e Limited-Edition Watches. Fabergé has always put forward talented female artists, including the young Alma Pihl, who designed the Winter Egg in 1913, and this is something I am particularly proud of. Whilst still being very young, Mitsuki masters this traditional Japanese Maki-e technique, and I am fascinated by the level of knowledge and precision required to work on these unique artistic dials, which bring the tiger, lion and eagle to life,” said Aurélie Picaud, Director of Timepieces at Fabergé.
The Altruist Maki-e Limited-Edition Watches ($45,000) are available to purchase at select Fabergé boutiques and the brand’s official website. 

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