Founded in 1872 by Ferdinand Verger, Verger Frères early on, established itself as a Maison with exquisite craftsmanship- renowned for its watchmaking expertise and technical & artistic designs in Haute Joaillerie. Over the years, the Maison has stayed true to its inspiration of art and creativity, with designs that even today reflect the synthesis between precious Art Nouveau and Déco.
Ferdinand Verger, joaillier parisien né en 1851, commence son apprentissage à 11 ans à Paris chez l’horloger Lépine, célèbre horloger des rois Louis XV, Louis XVI et de Napoléon. A son retour de Londres en 1871, grand centre mondial de l’horlogerie au XIXème siècle et après la guerre franco-prussienne, où il a servi, Ferdinand Verger s’installe à Paris. Il fonde en 1872, à 21 ans, une société de joaillerie spécialisée dans l’habillage de montre essentiellement pour femmes. Dès 1875, il travaille comme agent de Vacheron Constantin de Genève. Il dépose son propre poinçon en 1896 et s’installe Place des Victoires. En 1901, il acquiert la société de son maître d’apprentissage, l’horloger Lépine
En sus de la relation avec Vacheron Constantin qui va durer jusqu’en 1938, Ferdinand Verger va établir un certain nombre de partenariats avec des Maisons, artistes ou artisans exceptionnels pour maîtriser les différents métiers d’art: Paillet, Maikovski, Lalique, Becker.
Dans le cadre des ses relations avec Vacheron Constantin, on lui attribue la réalisation du 3ème œuf Fabergé impérial du Tsar celui de la Pâque 1887, seul œuf comprenant un mouvement d’horlogerie Vacheron Constantin.
En 1911, Ferdinand Verger transmet sa société à ses deux fils, Henri et Georges, qui vont en faire la Maison Verger Frères qui prendra ce nom le 1er décembre 1920 en s’installant à coté du Palais Royal, au 51 rue Saint Anne.
In Europe, among the customers that wore designs made by Verger Frères, the ones that added most radiance to it were the renowned personalities from the Roaring Twenties. From couture models such as Lucien Lelong to sportswomen like Suzanne Leglen and Hélène Boucher, royalty as of the Russian princesses Natacha Palley, French Baba of Faucigny-Lucinge, Duchess of Westminster and Princess de Broglie to writers like Colette and Anne de Noailles, industrialists like Captain Barnato, founder of Bentley, politicians like Winston Churchill to explorers like Freddie Spencer Chapman and finally millionaires like the wealthy Greek shipowner Onassis, were all admirers of the Maison’s work.
Verger Frères worked with some of the most reputed European jewelers including for customers such as Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels, Hermès, Ostertag, Lacloche Frères, Gubelin, and Dreiher. Ferdinand Verger also set up business in United States early on in his career. From the end of the 19th century, he worked for Tiffany & Co in New York and manufactured finished products for Marcus & Co, Charlton & Co., Black Starr and Frost.
Thus, Verger Frères become a jeweler to the jewelers, working for jewellery shops in Place Vendôme in Paris, rue du Rhone in Geneva, 5th Avenue in New York and Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles.
Other than creativity, Verger Frères was also a driver of innovation, having filed several patents in jewelry, cosmetic and make-up tools, and in watchmaking for watches with the arm-in-the-air system, padlock watches, guillotine watches and chatelaines. Verger Frères is also one of the two Parisian Maisons to have developed the famous ‘mysterious clocks’.
Fom pre-war period in 1911 up until the Art Nouveau and Art Deco, the continuity of the Verger Frères style was assured by Georges Verger, who designed the jewels and clocks himself while calling on many external artists such as designer Paul-Frederic Follot, architect Eric Bagge, poster artist André Mourlot (Cassandre), sculptor Lambert Rucki and jewelry designers Maurice Duvallet and Juliette Moutard. With regards to art, Verger Frères collaborated with many famous craftsmen of the time such as Edmond Becker (Engraver), Vladimir Makovski (lacquered mosaiste), René Lalique (Glassmaker), Fernand Paillet (Miniaturist). Employing more than 200 artisans- jewelers, crimper, polishers, guillocheurs, carvers, gouacheurs, lacquerers, enamellers, founders, watchmakers, casings, engravers, lapidaries, diamantaires and so on, Verger Frères was truly at the top of its craft during the period of Roaring Twenties.
From time to time, it also collaborated with external Maisons, the most famous collaboration being the one that lasted more than half a century, between 1875 and 1938, with the prestigious Maison of Vacheron Constantin. While Verger Frères developed designs and dressings, Vacheron Constantin provided the movement of precious clocks and of watches. Verger Frères, together with Vacheron Constantin, invented the precious lady’s watch. It was also one of the two manufacturers, the other being Cartier, to develop the famous Art Déco clocks.
The developed pieces were either sold on order or through stores in France and abroad, and even at their own workshop at Rue St. Anne. The designs always included the hallmark of the master at Verger Frères, and sometimes even carried the name of the shop to ensure seamless commercialization.
In the 1920s, the city of Paris became the capital of art and a privileged meeting place for artists and intellectuals alike. It is at that time that Gertrude Stein presented to Picasso, Braque and Matisse, the works of Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald.
With the sought-after celebrities frequenting salons of the capital, Verger Frères became the chosen jeweler. Personalities such as Mary Pickford, Arletty and Mistinguett, religiously adhered to the exceptional craftsmanship and innovative designs of the Maison.
A year before the great founding exhibition of Art Deco in Paris, in 1924, French luxury was exported to New York to Grand Central Palace for an exhibition where, for the first time, Parisian jewelers like Verger Frères, Cartier, Mauboussin and Templier became associated with couturiers such as the Callot, Paquin, Vionnet, Jeanne Lanvin, and the Worth sisters. Credit to this exhibition, Verger Frères was able to develop, across United States, a presence at first retailers of big American cities like New York (Neiman Marcus), Philadelphia (Caldwell JE), Palm Beach (Greenleaf & Crosby), Chicago (Trabert & Hoeffer) and especially in Los Angeles with Trabert & Hoeffer and Laykin- two jewelers, of which all Hollywood was a customer.
In Hollywood, Verger Frères' pieces would come to be worn by the first stars of the cinema such as Joan Crawford, Paulette Godard, Katherine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Dolores Del Rio, Anne May Wong, Merle Oberon, Mae West, Sonja Henie and Gloria Swanson.
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