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Fairfax & Roberts celebrates its 160th year by returning to its watchmaking roots

Venerable Sydney jewellers Fairfax & Roberts is marking its 160th year by returning to its watchmaking roots. By the end of this year, Fairfax & Roberts will introduce three boutique horology brands to the Australian market.

The first of these, Schwarz Etienne, illustrates the niche approach and the depth of capability that F&R sought in reacquainting itself with authentic watchmaking. F&R had turned its focus solely on jewellery when the “quartz crisis” struck the industry in the 1980s.

Schwarz Etienne, originally established in 1902 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland and headquartered there today, produces its uniquely handcrafted timepieces from components manufactured exclusively in-house.

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This even includes the production of hairsprings and balance wheels at sister company E20, making Schwarz Etienne one of the industry’s very few sources for hairsprings. The brand produces only 250-300 pieces under its own name each year and about as many again in “private collection” movements and complications for certain major brands’ limited-edition pieces.

Its timepieces are known for their innovative showcasing of complex movements – not only in the technical sense, but in the use of unexpected materials such as green aventurine stone, Australian opal or grey hematite (literally small slivers from Switzerland’s Matterhorn).

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The Schwarz Etienne “Roswell collection”, meanwhile, is more quirky and design-driven, evoking the shape and sheen of a flying saucer (and indeed, arriving boxed in one).

A fascinating and different newcomer on the Australian watch scene, Schwarz Etienne prices range from around $15,000 to beyond $100,000. To see more visit fairfaxandroberts.com.au.

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