Having been tasked with the task of explaining the origins of Chanel watches wasn’t going to be an easy one, especially with a timeline that has spanned almost 30 years since its inception in 1987. Think Chanel watches and the first thing that will pop to mind is probably the J12 (which incidentally is one of their most successful watches to date and a favourite amongst both men and women).
The other one that would instantly come to mind would probably be that rectangular one, which has the same shape as the bevelled stopper on Chanel’s No.5. Yes, that would be the Premiere you’re thinking about.
That’s pretty much it, right? No.
If there’s something that’s always constant in Chanel today, it’s that drive to to continually innovate in whatever they do, from 3D-printed dresses (F/W15 Haute Couture) to skin moisturisers made with only 10 ingredients (La Solution 10). It’s the same with their timepieces, manufactured at their facility Manufacture d’Habillage Horloger G&F Châtelain in Switzerland’s La Chaux-de-Fonds, a city that’s synonymous with fine watchmaking.
And that’s not all. Chanel also works closely with master-watchmakers Renaud & Papi (APRP SA), the advanced research and development branch of Audemars Piguet. In other words, Chanel has proven that besides being big on form (and that we already all know and love), they are also serious about function, ie, what goes on inside the watch and winning the 12th Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève for best ladies’ watch in 2012 for the Premiere Flying Tourbillon is indeed recognition for that. Something else that I didn’t know before, at Chanel their timepieces are first designed with a specific style and movement in mind, and once the ‘outside’ has been decided, they then proceed on with the insides, even investing heavily in R&D just to ensure it works before form and function come beautifully together in the timepiece.
Accomplishments and accolades aside though, their watches represent Chanel’s vision of time, one that’s closely aligned to Coco Chanel’s own personal philosophy of always ‘living the moment’ and experiencing each nuance of the here and the now.
Which was something I only truly understood when I flew to Switzerland for #BaselWorld recently. Standing alone in its own pavilion amongst hundreds of watch exhibitors spread over many halls, it was clearly a sight to behold, one that encompassed all the codes that Gabrielle Chanel loved dearly.
The watches on display (which will be launched over the course of the year) were pieces that were created to carry on that ethos; one of creating timepieces for every woman, one that’s focused on beautiful watchmaking and most importantly, allowing you to, like Gabrielle Chanel, savour each instant as it happens in the here and now. And so begins my journey into a world that while isn’t completely new to me, I still have much to appreciate, learn and understand, and it’s a year-long journey that I hope you will take with me.