You are either going to love this brand – given its cool obscure status – or feel cold to it due to its remarkably unknown name. Let’s consult the United Nations of Watch Makers (a global organization I just made up) and see who Molnar Fabry is… The brand is a bespoke watch maker based in Slovakia. I can now add that country to the list of places watch makers seem to hang out. It does fascinate me how some of these guys set up shop in seemingly random places. If you live in parts of France, Switzerland or Germany, you are close to watch making areas and it totally makes sense that you’d have access to horological training. Otherwise it would be very difficult to get the right type of skilled training.
According to Molnar Fabry, the brand’s watches are produced by a duo of guys who are former goldsmiths. That means they took a jewelry background and applied it not to strict watch making per se, but rather the embellishing and decoration of existing watch movements. In some way, what Molnar Fabry does is very similar to what German Benzinger does – merely with a slightly different outcome.
Having started in 2006, it is difficult to determine how many total pieces the Molnar Fabry team have produced. Visit their website and you won’t find available watches but rather a galley of already completed projects. The duo works with clients to produce custom made, highly decorated watches using a variety of base movements from simple ETA manually wound UNITAS calibers to complex Christophe Claret tourbillons. What I like is the sheer variety of what they do and their seeming abundance of talents. Their work displays complex engraving, creative texturing, fine polishing, and a clever use of materials. Usually custom watch makers who perform this type of work tend to be good at a small range of techniques. Molnar Fabry seems to be pretty good at making a lot of very different things.
The brand put up a few videos on YouTube on their channel here. Mute the stock music and check out more images and videos of their work. Clearly the watches are based on the budget and ideas of a wide variety of clientele. I like that they seem to be open to projects from people of various fiscal means. That doesn’t however mean that their work is inexpensive. It just means that not everyone wants precious metals and stones, or the most wild types of decoration.
Most of the watches that Molnar Fabry makes are in 18k gold (of various shades) with base Swiss movements. While I don’t know the details of their process or the prices, knowing what I do I can guess how it works. Prospective clients must contact them wishing to commission a project. Assuming they are available, work begins by communicating with the client on what they are looking for. The design phase is mostly an exchange of pictures and like to get a visual design down. These watch decorator teams spend a lot of time creating concept and mock-up art. Once a design is agreed upon, work gets started and the process can be extremely time consuming. I’d imagine at least a few months per watch. Though companies like Molnar Fabry would be amiss to do one project at a time. While the work they are doing is quite traditional, it is ironically mostly designed and communicated through e-mail. I suppose it would be more romantic (though impractical) to visit Slovakia and chat about it over coffee and then beer for a few hours.
For some people, “custom piece unique” is the ultimate luxury. Not only the idea that what you are buying only you can have, but also that you had a big part in its design. There are also those people who have distinct things they want someone to make. It is an interesting dichotomy of desires actually. On one end, you have the person who is interested in having a skilled artist simply make something cool and exclusive for them. On the other end is someone who has a particular concept in their mind that they are unable to personally create and must find one of a few people in the world able to produce it. Not yet have I ever been one of the latter. The former perhaps, but not the latter. Yet. Though perhaps a time will come when I simply must have an engraved rendition of a pony designed into the bridges of a watch movement. You never know.
It is good to know that extreme boutique watch engravers and decorators like Molnar Fabry exist. I think that they will inevitably be held back by their geographic location and remain small and relaxed. Perhaps that is a good thing when it comes to producing handmade mechanical art. You can check out the Molnar Fabry website here. According to Molnar Fabry, the price for their watches in steel is between about 6,500 – 10,000 Euros. In gold or platinum, their watches tend to cost anywhere from about 18,000 – 130,000 Euros.