back to top

Chanel J12 Chromatic Ceramic Titanium Watch

Chanel J12 Chromatic Ceramic Titanium Watch Watch Releases

There is a holy place that no one has quite yet reached. A place where metal is totally wear-resistant. Where a material like steel would display the same metallic goodness we all love without ever looking scratched, worn, scuffed, or bent. This place is an alcove in the horological fountain of youth – the promised land where watches live forever. Joking aside, this is a serious issue. Buy yourself a close-to-$8,000 steel Rolex Submariner and you’ll get some of the best metallurgical work in the market. Spend a few days with that new Submariner and it might start to show signs of wear with haste. Darn, no more new car smell…

For me, luxury is about things lasting and quality. Screw rare hides, I want things that look nice and will fare as well as Indiana Jones did in the refrigerator after the atomic explosion in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie. Why is that so hard? One of the best materials out there in terms of wear resistance is “high-tech” ceramic. The spacey material used for industrial and high-end watch purposes has little to no relation with our coffee mugs. I think that the two only share being baked. In the 1980s Rado started using a ceramic material for watch cases and bracelet. The material was innovative for being really hard to scratch, and not loosing that glossy luster. Though you were basically limited to shiny black.

When the original Chanel J12 watch debuted in 2000, it really popularized ceramic in a big way. What was their secret? Simple really. Rado was always avant garde in their designs. While the watches had good guts, their designs prevented them from being too mainstream in the Western world. The J12 for was lack of a better term… a modified Rolex Submariner homage, with a classy dial in black or white ceramic. Finally, a fit fashion watch with world appeal. This wasn’t a crappy plastic watch that came in “fun colors.” It was a well-made watch with a mechanical movement in a material that felt great. Still… if you wanted the durability that ceramic offered, you are more or less stuck with glossy black or white.

Chanel J12 Chromatic Ceramic Titanium Watch Watch Releases

Then watchmakers started to experiment with forms of matte or brushed ceramic. The idea was to try and emulate the finishes that could be achieved with metal. This is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t offer a metal looking watch that will last forever. There are many people to whom the allure of a $10,000 watch becomes more immediate if they know that watch will look cherry for decades.

The latest step in that direction is being offered again by Chanel for 2011 with their J12 “chromatic” watches. The Chanel J12 Chromatic Ceramic Titanium Watch. Mixing titanium and diamond power into the ceramic compound mixture, they are able to get an only slightly glossy version of the J12 that has the color of titanium. Finally, ceramic looks more like metal, with the same durability properties. “Ceramic Titanium” as they call it is a bit like the next step in the evolution of wear resistant compounds that will help high-end watches cosmetically last much, much longer. If you need any more proof that ceramic is really the key material of the next decade, just look at all the high-end brands that now rely on the material for at least parts of some of their watches.


Chanel J12 Chromatic Ceramic Titanium Watch Watch Releases

The 2011 Chanel J12 Chromatic will more-or-less mirror the other collections in sizes and variations. The larger model is the 41mm wide men’s model that contains an ETA automatic movement. There are also a 38mm wide version with the same movement. This model will also have optional an baguette or round-cut diamond covered bezel (with matching diamond hour indicators). Below that, is a 33mm wide model that contains a Swiss quartz movement.

Together, the collection is not something that revolutionizes the Chanel J12 line, but is a further evolution in the concept and a step closer to ageless metal. I truly feel that in the near future when buying a high-end timepiece, part of that investment is the peace of knowledge that your new watch will remain visually outstanding for a long time. UDPATE (01-11-2014): Hands-on with the JC12 Chromatic watches here.

See Chanel watches on eBay here.Chanel J12 Chromatic Ceramic Titanium Watch Watch Releases

See Chanel watches on Amazon here.Chanel J12 Chromatic Ceramic Titanium Watch Watch Releases

[phpbay]chanel, num, “14324”, “”[/phpbay]



Disqus Debug thread_id: 3991111355

  • Jason C.

    One company that is taking an interesting approach to the wear-and-tear problem is Bremont. I spoke with Nick English recently about the brand (stand up fellow by the way). What I found fascinating was their process of hardening the steel. Somewhat like tool steel, the cases are tempered with carbon to give them a very high scratch resistance. He showed me one of his personal watches, a daily wearer for almost 7 years – you would swear it wasn’t more than 6 months old, with just a few minor nicks. The brushing was completely intact. I was amazed, they have achieved very high durability with stainless steel. Hopefully we will see more companies adopting this approach, as well as Chanel’s, in the future.

    • Bremont makes a good watch indeed, but aren’t the only brand to uses hardened steel. Other brands uses coatings on steel as well. There are a lot of ways to improve the cosmetic life, but all of them will show wear faster than ceramic.

  • roxy

    i like the design of the watch

  • shinytoys

    I think you might find that tungstun/ceramic case goes back into the 1950’s with the original Rado Diastar. They were either gold or silver colored back then, and they are still available. The darker ceramic black was then available in the 1980’s.

  • victor

    There already exists a material which is steel and wear resistant.

    Tungsten Carbide steel. My wedding band is made out of it, and I wear it in all sorts of jewelry-inappropriate situations, such as woodworking, wrenching on the automobile, and more. Its surface remains polished, and it will not scratch. It is harder than most other surfaces, so it’s the brick that takes the punishment, not the ring.

    I like the idea of ceramic, but I’d also like a tungsten carbide watch. What really makes this Chanel work for me is that the case back is ALSO ceramic, not steel. This works very well for people who want a classy timepiece but suffer from contact dermatitis with metal.

  • victor

    Sorry, I was confused. Chanel may or may not be using the ceramic caseback, it’s Hublot that does for certain. Unfortunately, I’m not really interested in an Hublot at this time.