It didn’t take Chanel’s J12 long to achieve icon status, and it’s really no wonder: it was the company’s first watch crafted in high-tech ceramic, and it was the first Chanel model that was water resistant to 200 meters. It was also considered a unisex watch, garnering yet another “first” for the collection when it was introduced almost 15 years ago.
Chanel Baselworld 2014 – J12
But it wasn’t until 2005 when the J12 really came into its own, since that was the year it was re-birthed as a Fine Jewelry watch and it was seen on the wrists of celebrities the world over. And what a fine jewelry watch it is—particularly in its $1.2 million 18-karat white gold and diamond Flying Tourbillon iteration shown at BaselWorld this year. This limited edition of just five pieces features a manual-wind “Comète Flying Tourbillon” movement created exclusively for Chanel by Renaud et Papi. The 38 mm case is set with 82 baguette-cut diamonds, while the flange and dial are a breathtaking collection of baguette- and brilliant-cut diamonds totaling about 5.5 carats. Not to be left out, the18-karat white gold crown is set with one brilliant-cut diamond. The bracelet features 32.2 carats—and an 18-karat triple folding buckle to keep this little treasure secure on the wrist.
Its $360,000 pavé diamond white gold and white ceramic cousin is quite fetching as well in a limited edition of 12 pieces. The ceramic adds a contemporary touch and lightens the timepiece, though I’ve never met a woman who complains about the weight of her diamonds. The flange and mother-of-pearl dial are set with 336 brilliant cut diamonds, and the white gold hands are set with stones as well. The white gold and ceramic bracelet features 672 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Slightly lower on the sparkle meter is my favorite new J12, a 38 mm black-dial Flying Tourbillon. It is a limited edition of just 50 pieces, each available with an alligator or satin strap. It features an 18-karat white gold and black high-tech ceramic case with diamond accents on the flange, black onyx dial, crown and tourbillon aperture. The spirit of this watch is that of a simple black dress set off by just the right amount of jewelry—an elegant look that will never go out of style.
The ever-evolving J12 collection also comprised a new alloy this year, beige gold, meant to conjure a signature beige color used in Chanel’s textiles and cosmetics. New 33mm or 38mm white ceramic versions of the J12 were shown, too.
My favorite has blue luminescent Arabic numerals and water resistance to 200 meters, making it a perfect choice for summer. Titanium ceramic Chromatic watches with or without diamonds are still on my radar, and they were introduced earlier this year in 33mm or 38mm with beige gold accents on the bezel (with or without diamonds) and crown.
Chanel Baselworld 2014 – Première
A gem-set limited edition Flying Tourbillon in the Première line has arrived, alligator- or satin-strapped and dressed with diamonds and pink sapphires. Interestingly, Première was Chanel’s first watch created exclusively for women—introduced in 1987—and it was inspired by the octagonal shape of the bottle stopper used for Chanel’s famed No. 5 perfume. The new Triple Wrap steel-and-leather-strapped Première conjures Chanel’s signature handbags, offering a spot-on stylish look and one I predict will be a mainstay of the line. An 18-karat yellow gold-and-diamond double-wrap quartz version, minus the leather treatment on the bracelet, was introduced pre-Basel.
Chanel Baselworld 2014 – Mademoiselle Privé
In the Mademoiselle Privé mechanical watch collection—primarily focused on collectors—new dials featuring grand feu enamel, with diamonds and other gems, are a testament to the House of Chanel’s expertise in the art of enameling, carving, engraving and stone setting. The Mademoiselle Privé Coromandel Dial is a set of two 18-karat 37.5mm white gold watches, one dial featuring grand feu enamel and the other, sculpted mother-of-pearl. Each piece is powered by a self-winding movement and features snow-set diamonds on the case and white gold crown. This stunning duo is sold as a set only.