In an industry dominated by large conglomerates and mass-produced “luxury” watches, the hand-crafted works of art being produced by small-scale artisans like Michal Molnar and Igor Fabry are becoming increasingly rare and precious. The Slovakian duo of certified jewelers and goldsmiths launched their namesake brand Molnar Fabry in 2005, and specialize in the creation of bespoke skeletonized, engraved, and gem-set mechanical timepieces. Each timepiece is unique and crafted in collaboration with the client, ranging from industrial and automotive-inspired watches like the Molnar Fabry Time Machine Regulator 911 (covered here) to the high end Molnar Fabry Grand Master Skeleton we’re looking at today.
Jewelry watches often get a bit of a sneer from us WIS types, who are often more readily impressed by movement specifications, design cohesion, and historical clout than how many gems your bezel is packing. That being said, if you’re the sort of high-roller who can afford and will actually wear a dedicated jewelry piece, then by George (Daniels that is, I’m not a religious man) this is how you should be doing it. The level of craftsmanship displayed by the Molnar Fabry Grand Master Skeleton is quite frankly incredible. Our David Bredan visited the duo’s workshop back in 2014, an article I strongly recommend for anyone who cannot fathom (like I still can’t) how two men can accomplish such immaculate works of art without the aid of CNC machines or other automated machinery.
The Molnar Fabry Grand Master Skeleton started its life as a plain Jane ETA 6498-2 movement, a caliber chosen in part due to its large bridges, which provide a lot of potential material to be cut away in the skeletonization process; a larger canvas for the Slovakian duo’s artwork if you will. This caliber has then been painstakingly skeletonized by hand into an Art Nouveau inspired floral motif, black rhodium-plated, and hand-engraved to a very fine level of detail that appears organic and flowing, while approaching perfection even under macro photography. Molnar Fabry refer to this style as “banknote engraved,” after the siderography technique of engraving intricate, hard-to-duplicate designs onto steel printing plates to prevent counterfeiting.
Even setting aside the skill required to skeletonize and engrave a timepiece to this level, the Molnar Fabry Grand Master Skeleton also boasts a veritable cornucopia of gemstones. Set into the bezel, lugs, and crown are 222 diamonds totaling 3.58 carats, and each diamond is of a very high grade; VVS/F or very, very slightly included, whose inclusions are difficult to see even under 10x magnification. The dial’s rehaut features a further 11 emeralds totaling 0.15 carats, which act as this timepiece’s hour indices. And set directly into the main plate near 10 o’clock is a 0.51 carat Zambian emerald, which generally speaking, are the cleanest (least-included) and most color saturated of all emeralds, with a deep “forest green” color and underlying blue tones.
The case of the Molnar Fabry Grand Master Skeleton measures 44mm in diameter and is crafted of 18k palladium white gold, an alternative to the more common and less expensive nickel-based white gold alloys which can irritate wearers with nickel allergies. The dial and caseback are both covered with sapphire glass, and the sides of the case are also hand-engraved with a floral motif to match the dial. The elegant spade-shaped hour and minute hands are crafted out of 18k yellow gold and are also manufactured in-house by Molnar Fabry. The hands are matte finished on top with mirror-polished blades in a style which reminds me strongly of Grand Seiko’s diamond-cut and Zaratsu-polished hands.
The Molnar Fabry Grand Master Skeleton comes attached to a genuine stingray black leather strap, hand-made by the French watch strap specialist ABP Paris. The pebbled texture of stingray leather is a great choice for this watch, providing a strong aesthetic link between the strap and diamond-set case. Leaving no stone un-bejeweled, the strap is fitted with an 18k palladium white gold buckle, set with a further 26 VVS/F-grade diamonds which add 0.6 carats to the running total. The buckle is also engraved with the floral motif and the brand’s name in beautiful cursive script, a lovely touch which shows that attention has been paid to even the smallest details for this timepiece.
While watches like the Molnar Fabry Grand Master Skeleton aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, our personal tastes are kind of irrelevant when evaluating this particular timepiece. This is, after all, a watch that was designed specifically for one client, and doesn’t need to be marketable to anyone else. For the rest of us, this watch stands as a testament to Michal and Igor’s remarkable skill as jewelers. Considering the brand’s estimated 400 hours of labor required to make one Molnar Fabry Grand Master Skeleton and the wealth of precious materials used in its construction, even the asking price of €64,000 seems entirely reasonable to me. Particularly in the context of luxury consumption, a one-of-a-kind timepiece like this stands out from the crowd and offers something truly unique and irreplaceable, which immediately elevates it above even the finest mass-produced creations from the major watchmakers.