In only thirty years of CHANEL’s watchmaking journey, the House has touched on every métier contributing to the art of Fine Watchmaking. Defining a unique vision of Fine Watchmaking through the creation of watches conceived as objects of desire and beauty, without compromising the craftsmanship and technical expertise required to create exceptional timepieces. Timepieces designed to withstand the test of time. In October 1987, when CHANEL first created a watch, no one was expecting it. It was called Première.
Première: adjective feminine, singular. French for rst: that which precedes others in time, space, and rank. Principal. Superior. noun feminine, singular. That which is realized for the rst time. That which is classed at the top. In transport, the most comfortable class. In Haute Couture, the Director of the atelier. In watchmaking, the Première was the first watch created exclusively by CHANEL for women; drawing on the shape of the N°5 bottle stopper and the Place Vendôme. Unlike anything before, this timepiece, destined for women and de ning a uniquely feminine style, was not a simple reworking of a man’s watch.
The Première, whose feminity is embodied by original ambassador Ines de la Fressange, is both an authentic timekeeper and a statement of style, or as some would say a fashion accessory. This duality is not only embraced by CHANEL but serves as a source of pride, and is captured by the rich meaning and tting name behind the watch. The Première watch opened the first chapter of the great story between the House and the world of Watchmaking. With it, CHANEL gave time the place it deserved: a surface without limits, dials or markers. A surface both at and smooth, over which endless possibilities could glide. The watch thus became a genuine piece of jewelry, the embodiment of femininity, above and beyond its functional role.
The House’s inextinguishable drive to create is fueled by the desire to celebrate the art of surprise and wonder. The House’s iconic motifs inspire and become timekeepers: Pearls, Camélias, Comets, Quilting and Ribbons enlace the wrist. Not only do these symbols serve as an eternal source of inspiration for the House, but they also contribute to the renewal and creation of new feminine watchmaking codes in the world of Fine Watchmaking. From the start, everything is sketched, conceived, developed and made in-house. No subcontracting, no licensing.
In 2000, a new revolution: the J12. Created in black ceramic, the J12 became the first watchmaking icon of the 21st century. The dazzling, resolutely indelible black captured in the rotor created shock waves when it first arrived in the Place Vendôme. Its supple link strap, at ease with its own masculine style, naturally adjusts to the body’s temperature, unlike metal. CHANEL transformed high-tech ceramic into a precious material, and made deepest black an essential color in the watchmaking world. In 2003, with the creation of the immaculate and opalescent white J12, CHANEL also reinvented the colour white, making it the must-have color in watchmaking for the next decade.
By creating multiple variations, ephemeral series and exceptional editions, while always respecting the stylistic integrity of the J12, CHANEL continues today, 17 years after its creation, to reinterpret this watchmaking icon. In its latest chapter, the J12 is rendered in a petite and highly feminine XS version. The J12 didn’t simply mark a watchmaking revolution at CHANEL. It initiated a fundamental shift in the world of watchmaking through the House’s use of black, white and ceramic.