June 28, 2017
After too many years, Chanel launched a men’s watch during Baselworld 2016 in the form of the Chanel Monsieur de Chanel. Fortunately for fans, Chanel now seems keen on catching up on lost time and for 2017, is introducing a variant of the Chanel Monsieur de Chanel with a black grand feu enamel dial and a platinum case. Chanel is putting a tremendous amount of thought and effort in these watches and it clearly shows here.
Chanel is one of several Parisian luxury houses that has started to make serious forays into the high-end watchmaking world. And like their peers, Hermès and Louis Vuitton, Chanel have taken the effort to design the entire watch from the ground up specifically for this line. This includes the movement, which is assembled in-house with components from Romain Gauthier, a horology heavyweight in his own right and the man behind the watch brand of the same name.
Looking at the dial, one could be forgiven for thinking it’s a three-hander with a big-date display within the first few seconds. However, the Chanel Monsieur de Chanel has no date complication and only tells time. What Chanel has achieved is a dial which looks like it has a traditional layout and is highly legible, and yet manages to be different by incorporating two complications; a jumping hour and retrograde minutes. You read the time starting with the large window at the bottom of the dial, which is the hour display and then to the top, which is the retrograde minutes and finally to a rather traditional sub seconds dial in the middle. Chanel has carefully designed the displays so that the minute indicator does not overlap the seconds. This rather simple yet strong presentation is completed by two polished steel hands, and a smattering of text and numbers, in a nice, contrasting white.
The real star of the show, is the grand feu enamel dial itself. The original Monsieur de Chanel from last year, while impressive, did not have an enamel dial and the visual impact that comes with it, especially a black dial. Another haute horlogerie technique, grand feu enamel dials take a painstaking amount of time and effort to produce and are visually unlike any other dial material commonly used. The repeated application of enamel and firing in the kiln results in a smooth, unbroken surface which has a gentle, almost imperceptible curvature to it.
The Chanel Monsieur de Chanel (like the Slim d’Hermès), receives a typeface which like the movement, dial, and case, was designed specifically for it. The strong, straight lines of the font make for a nice contrast to all the curves and circles on the dial. Like the lions head logo, this font will be used in all future Monsieur de Chanel watches. And, yes, Chanel have stated that there will definitely be additions to the collection, with different complications, over time. Note to Chanel – a steel model, please.
The movement, which Chanel has labeled the Calibre 1 is hand wound and beats at 3Hz with a 72-hour power reserve. Aesthetically, there are signatures that let you know Romain Gauthier played a hand here, thanks in particular to the interplay of circles which is emphasized by the circular main plate. Chanel has opted for a monochromatic look, with all the components except the jewels in either silver or dark gray plates. They have also subtly injected their signature design into the movement, with elements like the star shaped spokes in the balance wheel or the tapered spokes in the gears.
The other visual marker is the new lion’s head logo by Chanel that will be featured in all their future Monsieur de Chanel collection watches. All of these elements make for a movement that is quite a visual treat. In general, with the movement and elsewhere, Chanel has adopted a restrained, contemporary approach to its design.
The enamel dial and impressive movement are housed within a 40mm x 10mm platinum case which has very classic and familiar design elements, like a polished top and bottom bezel, with brushed case band, the tapered lugs, and the simple and familiar fluted crown. For a modern watch, the Monsieur de Chanel is moderately sized and sits well on the wrist and can be a comfortable daily wearer with formal wear and suits. The watch ships with a black alligator strap and a pin buckle which like the screwed hour window, is octagonal-shaped and reminiscent of the aerial view of the Place Vendôme in Paris, France, and a subtle touch that fans of Chanel are likely to recognize.
It is clear that a lot of thought and care has gone into the design and execution of the Monsieur de Chanel, and that it can comfortably go up against many of the options available from the more established watchmakers at this level. If the luxury houses, and Chanel in particular, continue to produce watches of this caliber, the argument of their legitimacy as watchmakers is most likely to settle in their favor. The Chanel Monsieur de Chanel in platinum with black grand feu enamel dial is now available for $63,000. chanel.com