The Première watch shines star since 1987
September 15th, 2022
In the CHANEL watchmaking universe, the Première watch has been a shining star since 1987. Choosing the octagonal shape of the stopper of the N°5 perfume bottle for its case and dressing it in black lacquer and borrowing the interlaced leather and chain strap of the iconic quilted bag for its bracelet, the Première surprised the watchmaking world that until then had been governed by masculine codes. Because it was uniquely contemporary, without a doubt. Thirty-five years after its creation, this authentic lesson in style now makes its reappearance in its original version styled in its most cherished quality: timeless appeal.
Place Vendôme, Paris.
The first CHANEL watchmaking creation, the Première watch was conceived in 1987 by Jacques Helleu, Artistic Director at CHANEL. He had joined the Maison thirty years earlier to take care of “problems of taste”1
. This remarkable man, who had devoted himself to CHANEL from the age of 18, was still humorously wondering “what it was all about”,
even as the success of the Première watch confirmed his tenacious talents. “I fought to make a design that was strong, that was unique, that – more than just launching a single collection – would become an eternal reference,”
declared the man who ushered CHANEL into the world of watchmaking.
For Arnaud Chastaingt,
Director of the Watchmaking Creation Studio, the Première embodies the spirit of CHANEL watchmaking.“The Première was the first page in our watchmaking history. It was born out of an absolute freedom of creation and it initiated a vision, the “Allure of Time” as measured by CHANEL. In 2022, I wanted the Premiere to find its place again and to put it at the heart of our collection. This creation is our DNA and a CHANEL code through and through. Far more than a watch, the Première is a lesson in style.”
If the Première made a remarkable entrance, this was first and foremost because it freed itself from masculine codes, to appear – fitted or as a bracelet – on the wrists of women. For the first time, a watch intended for women was not a scaled-down version of a men’s watch, but an elegantly audacious creation wholly dedicated to them. Since 1987, the spirit of the Première has lived on as an ode to the freedom of every woman who lives in the present and seizes the moment.
The Première dial and beveled glass are instantly recognizable by their octogonal shape. A geometry directly inspired by the stopper of the N°5 perfume bottle, which in turn recalls the outline of place Vendôme, which Gabrielle viewed from her suite at the Ritz. This icon is joined by another one: the interwoven leather and chain strap of the iconic quilted bag. The Première makes it its flexible bracelet, fitted with an incredibly refined clasp. Thus the Première plays with these icons to create a new one, one that will endure the test of time.
A black lacquer dial set within a gold octagonal case: the sleek surface stretches out, unruffled by the passing of time. There are no numerals or indices, no second hand or date display. Under the beveled glass, two pared-back hands finished in gold move in this microcosm of infinity, while a crown set with an onyx cabochon completes this two-tone geometry.
In 1987, for the launch of the Première, CHANEL opened two dedicated boutiques – in Paris at 40 avenue Montaigne and in Geneva at 43 rue du Rhône – followed in 1990 by place Vendôme. There the Première watch appeared with all the freshness and charm of a jeune première, displaying its many variations over the years with as much ingenuity as elegance. In 2022, as CHANEL Watchmaking and Fine Jewelry finds its new home in the completely redesigned townhouse at 18 place Vendôme, the Première returns to the spotlight, in a version that is subtly streamlined and – ever so faithful to itself – resolutely a watch of its time.
I am the beating heart of the instantaneous act.
I am the jewelry watch that takes time to enjoy life.
I am a style, whose only guiding principle is liberty.
I am an eternally young first. I am the Première watch.1 CHANEL ETERNAL INSTANT, Nicholas Foulkes, Thames & Hudson, page 10
In October 1987, CHANEL created a watch called Première.
Première: feminine singular adjective. Means the one that precedes the others in time, space, rank.
Feminine singular noun: hat which is achieved for the first time, that which is ranked first.
In transport, the most comfortable class.
In Haute Couture, the Director of the workshop.
In watchmaking, it is the first watch created exclusively for women by CHANEL, taking the shape of the N°5 bottle stopper and that of the Place Vendôme. Contrary to all that was done at the time, this watch intended for women was not a reduction of a man’s watch.
Inès de la Fressange wearing the Première watch during its creation, 1987. CHANEL / Photographer Michel Comte / Inès de la Fressange / Press kit for the launch of CHANEL Horlogerie/1987
Embodied by Inès de la Fressange,
it is both an authentic timepiece and a fashion accessory. It takes on everything. And it lives up to its name.
Creation of the Watch Division. Opening of the first watch boutique on Avenue Montaigne for the launch of the Première watch, with one model and only 3 references.
Inès de la Fressange wearing the Première watch at its creation, 1987. CHANEL / Photographer Dan Torres / Inès de la Fressange / Première watch press kit / 1987
A second watch boutique is opened at 7, Place Vendôme (1st
appearance at Place Vendôme)
Opening of the first watch and jewellery boutique at 18, place Vendôme.
The Première watch opens the first chapter in the great history of the house and of watchmaking.
With it, CHANEL gave time its rightful place: an endless surface, without dial or index. A smooth, flat surface on which all possibilities hover. The watch thus becomes a real jewel, the quintessence of femininity and goes beyond its functionality.
Inès de la Fressange wearing the Première watch at its creation, 1987. CHANEL / Photographer Karl Lagerfeld / Inès de la Fressange / Press kit for the Première watch / 1987
- The Première H0001: the founding creation of the Watch and Jewellery division
- a launch that shakes up the codes of the watch industry
- A surprise effect in the industrial world of watchmaking, which is predominantly male
- A press kit that broke with the watchmaking codes of the time: an offbeat, second-rate, funny and impertinent tone
- Two dedicated boutiques (Paris and Geneva)
- 35 years later, our iconic watch is back with the relaunch of the First Original Edition
Claudia Schiffer wearing the Première watch in an advertising campaign, 1994. CHANEL / Photographer Patrick Demarchelier / Claudia Schiffer / Première watch campaign / 1994
- The first CHANEL watch, the founding act of the division
- The first watch designed by Jacques Helleu (“I took the cabochon of the Number 5 and the strap of the bag”, launched in 1987)
- A name like a nod to the “Premier” or “Première” of the sewing workshop (Gabrielle Chanel’s original profession)
- The first luxury watch, created especially for women: “Première is not a reduction of a man’s watch, but a creation in its own right”
- A CHANEL icon: the quintessence of the house’s style, immediately recognisable, a timeless design
Inès de la Fressange wearing the Première watch at its creation, 1987. Press article published in FEMME magazine in November 1987. Keiichi Tahara, Built Ltd.
- An ultra precious & feminine watch: a jewel watch
- Main materials: leather and steel with a yellow gold coating
- Black & gold watch
- Octagonal case, onyx crown cabochon
- Black lacquered dial, without index
- Emerald cut bevelled glass
- Crown with onyx cabochon
- Steel mesh bracelet with black leather strap
- Sophisticated clasp
- Baroque / graphic balance of the design
Photog of Gabrielle Chanel on the balcony of her suite at the Ritz Paris in 1937. Photo Roger Schall © Collection Schall
The Première watch is a Chanel icon. It is the quintessence of the style and spirit of the House.
Place Vendôme, Paris.
An icon that unites icons: an octagonal case inspired by the N°5 perfume stopper, a bracelet borrowed from the interwoven leather chain of the iconic quilted bag.
Première Original Edition watch
steel coated with 18K yellow gold (0.1 micron).Dial:
Steel coated with 18K yellow gold (0.1 micron) with onyx cabochon.Bracelet:
steel chain coated with 18K yellow gold (0.1 micron) interlaced with black leather strap.Movement:
high precision quartz.Functions:
26.1 x 20 x 7.65 mm.Launch
on 1 October 2022.Price :