Chanel J12 Chromatic Watch Review

Chanel J12 Chromatic Watch Review
Chanel J12 Chromatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews
Chanel's J12 Chromatic on the wrist

I firmly believe that the world needs more elegant dive watches. Like this one, the latest model from Chanel's hugely successful ceramic line. Previously photographed here, today we have a full review from a month on the wrist with the reference H2979 Chanel J12 Chromatic. Available in 33mm quartz, and 38 and 41mm automatic, the J12 Chromatic uses the famous Chanel ceramic expertise to create a watch with the look and feel of metal.

Fellow writer James Stacey and I differ with Ariel in our preferred size of watch. In Ariel's hands-on, his take was "I love the feel of the Chromatic on my wrist, but would love for a 43-45mm wide size." Me? I find 38mm to be just right, but read on and see if you agree or not.

By my measurements, this is 38mm, 41 at the widest part of the bezel, and 46.6mm lug to lug. A slender 10.2mm thick at the center of the domed crystal, tapering to 9.5mm at the edge. The bracelet is 18mm tapering just slightly down to 17mm, 5mm thick with sprung deployant clasp. Crown is domed, unsigned and 6.5mm. 141 grams in weight including the bracelet, similar to steel watches of the same size. It's also available in 41mm, and in 33mm quartz versions.

The movement is, I believe, the tracteur ETA 2892, my all-time favorite. Tough, accurate, easy to service, and thinner than the 2824 to boot. You'll find it as the base for much more expensive watches, from all sorts of brands, as well as being used for modules from Dubois Depraz. For example, the Omega 1120 and IWC 30110 are lightly modified 2892s. There are some decent pictures of it in the RGM 151P review.

The white ceramic J12 came out over a decade ago and has had a huge impact. Every day I see people, most often women, wearing white ceramic watches and brands such as IWC have introduced ceramic models as well. The Chromatic series takes ceramics, naturally porous, and adds molten titanium, filling up the pores and infusing into the material. Sounds like Hublot's "magic gold" process. I'm not about to destructively test a loaner watch, so we'll assume that the material will age as promised, namely extremely strong and scratch-resistant.

Chanel J12 Chromatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews
Chanel J12 chromatic, bezel closeup

Chanel does great finish work, with flawless detailing and polishing. Ceramic bezel, of course, though no lume pip. This is a dress diver, not a tool diver.

Chanel J12 Chromatic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews
Chanel J12 chromatic, face angle

Elegance is all about restraint, and that's the key to appreciating this watch. It's not too large, or too shiny, or even too flashy with its shades-of-grey color palette. It's restrained. Understated.

What do you think?
  • I want it! (2)
  • I love it! (1)
  • Thumbs up (0)
  • Classy (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Ulysses31

    Not a bad design for a faux-diver.  I like the shape of the links and a few other design touches but that’s about it.  It shines with the power of a thousand suns and looks like a gaudy bauble.  As much as I love shiny things, you can’t call it subtle.  It’s a glossy, almost “wet” looking shine, like you see on mirrored plastic objects.  Does it come with a free pair of their trendy sunglasses?  The case back was designed and engineered in the Soviet Union by a very bitter man.

  • Panagiotis

    Ulysses31 It’s capable enough to work as a “diver”. The point is that someone can wear it swimming/sailing without worrying about the consequences. I don’t subscribe to the school that says “no one is going to use it for diving so it doesn’t have to function that way” but it is as much a diver as say, the Breitlins Superocean Heritage which doesn’t include a lume pip, and neither did the original from the 50’s.
    Both are blingy and rated for 200m WR. I would have loved the pip don’t get me wrong, it would round off the package nicely 🙂 but it’s not a deal breaker.
    Remember that Panerais are considered divers with no bezel, lume pip and minute marks…;) You can’t call them faux-divers.

  • marbstiu

    Ulysses31 this watch is still for the ladies

  • spiceballs

    Pretty, practical, simple and clean design which could do with better dial lume and the date window above the “6”.

  • marbstiu

    spiceballs as intended for the left hand, the date window is slanted towards the wrong side.

  • Panagiotis

    marbstiu a very valid point indeed!

  • spiceballs

    marbstiu spiceballs sorry, I don’t get this at all?
    When I look at a rather pretty watch face like this [although I personally would rather see the second hand matching (pointed?) minute and hour hands?] it screams to asymmetry to the engineer in me with date window where it is.  When we look at a watch you can see the date wherever it is located on the face and on whatever wrist you wear it, so surely the point is (especially in a semi-fashion watch such as this) to provide an attractive balanced design?

  • fengpost

    The watch is polished and you call that restrained?

  • Panagiotis
    (Panerais) You can’t call them faux-divers. 
    Yes I can!

  • Panagiotis

    MarkCarson True true technically you caaaaaaan… buuuuuuut at least they have seen more seawater than many other divers out there. And they do have a sort of “connection” with Italian naval operations.
    Although they are more closely related to the Firenze water supply pipeline but I digress…
    Anyways, they plain look cool damnit!
    Oh and I like your new picture.

  • Kris C

    I aint buyin’ it (literally). I’ve gone so far as to try one on, as I’m a big fan of the material composition, but while it feels very nice and well built, it doesn’t look like a $5k+ watch in person or in pictures. The shitty handset, unsigned crown, and ill-spaced bracelet links don’t exactly tell a story of luxurious quality, and the afterthought caseback smells of cheap. The chrono version with the AP movement is a much nicer watch, but of course the sticker reflects this in spades and it’s still not properly justified. 

    I’m surprised this watch is 10 years old – I remember when it was new… I’m gettin’ old. By now it would have been nice to see them advance the watch – especially over a decade, but it’s largely unchanged from day 1.

  • Kar Wai Law

    I don’t think any one of the J12 sold will get even remotely close to seawater, let alone ‘dive’..but I’ll happily wear this to sit by a pool bar and have a few beers..hoho..

  • Ryan B

    It does look cheap, like those Relic watches I see at Macy’s that are not even worthy enough to be behind the glass case.

  • “The world needs more elegant dive watches”?  More?  Elegant? Dive Watches? You “firmly” believe this? I wonder if the fish are rating the divers in their own fubar-fashion blog.  I “firmly” believe that the premise for this blog is becoming “infirm”.

  • Neil C

    Paul, you refer to the 38mm mostly, but the photos are of the 41mm?  The date window on the 38mm is still at 4:30 but does not encroach on the inner dial like it does unfortunately on the 41mm.  It is mildly better.
    I’d much prefer this without a date window. The 38mm is a v. serious contender as gift to my wife for our next big Anniversary, whenever that is 😉

  • “….non-attention-getting watch…”  
    Paul, a little more shine and glitter and that thing is Mariah Carey…  For that kind of money, you can get a decent men’s watch, even a shinny and yet price controversial old men watch like rolex…

  • wstephens1

    I love the look of this watch. Having an 8 inch wrist i do prefer a larger face such as a 43 or 45. Recently returned from Vegas which is high end watch heaven.(to me). All the major watch were close to my hotel (” resort” according to Vegas room tax) . The chanel store had this particular watch and others avaiable for hands on viewing. You can’t beat seeing theses time pieces in person. Love your comments keep up the ggod work.

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  • Fraser Petrick

    wstephens1 I’ve been to Vegas only once…to appreciate that it is watch lover’s heaven. At a retailer like Tourneau I got to see, in the flesh, watches after which I had lusted by way of magazines and the internet. Some were even more magical (IWC, Zenith…) than I had imagined. Some were disappointing, such as; well, I won’t mention the brand.  (Rolex mystique was somewhat diminished as it was sold  just about everywhere except Walgreens.) Next time I win Powerball, Vegas watch stores, here I come.

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