Place Vendôme, Paris, France

The amazing thing about the Place Vendome is that it even looks to be lined with stones. Versions of the Premiere watch come with diamonds on the bezel, and they still look like the actual Parisian location. The wonderful thing about the place is that it is relatively empty, and the minimalist dial of the timepiece faithfully represents that. Movado’s Museum Dial watch is the proof incarnate that a watch dial with only hands and one marker to help orient it can appear very beautiful. This is exactly what Chanel did with the Premiere as the angularity of the case is contrasted with two rounded hands on a blank dial – only oriented with the Chanel logo. Legibility does suffer, but the design is gorgeous.

French fashion is imbued with deeper meaning, and you can see how Chanel has certainly accomplished that with the Premiere by incorporating elements of the brand’s history and Parisian character into an otherwise good looking watch. Building on the original, there are more options than ever in the collection. Today the Premiere is available with a glossy black lacquered dial or a white mother-of-pearl dial. This latter option is newer, but a welcome addition to the collection’s personality. There are also two different case sizes.

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Chanel produces the Premiere in a 16mm wide by 22mm tall case, as well as a larger 20mm wide by 28mm tall case. The design is meant to appear dainty, but it isn’t fashionable nowadays for a watch case to completely disappear on one’s wrist, so the larger option is appropriate for many women. The case is offered in both 18k yellow gold and steel, as well as with or without a diamond-decorated bezel. What is new for 2013 is the chain-style bracelet.

The chain bracelet is really what takes the Premiere to another level in my opinion. The watch on a satin strap is too formal, and the other bracelet options are nice, but perhaps not as contemporary as the chain-link bracelet. Something about it mixes urban style with chic sophistication in a very satisfying way. Chanel actually captures the timepiece’s versatility in their promotional video quite well. The message being that the Premiere is a watch that looks good on many different styles of women, and with many different types of outfits. I tend to agree. Few watches for women offer this type of versatility. Some of them include the Cartier Tank and Rolex Datejust (for women), as well as this Chanel.

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Technically the Chanel isn’t complicated, but it isn’t trying to be ‘haute horology.’ Inside the watch is a Swiss quartz movement. Details such as the facets on the sapphire crystal and the onyx cabochon in the crown are good to notice. Chanel is not just another fashion brand with watches, but a major player in the luxury watch market. To many people that is obvious, but for novices it can be difficult to know which fashion brand watches are good, and which are mostly department store impulse buys. Chanel is certainly on the more respectable and legitimate end of the spectrum.

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As a guy I find the Premiere as seen on a woman’s wrist to be something feminine and classy, as well as flattering on women wearing a range of outfits. Having said that, I really didn’t want to take my own word for it – as I wouldn’t ever be the person wearing one. So of course I polled a range of women, who without any bias agreed that the Premiere was indeed a fantastically lovely watch. And that was without my explanation of the design’s story. They aren’t cheap either, but nothing “Chanel” is, and the all-steel Premiere watches aren’t outside the realm of accessibility either. Prices for the 18k yellow gold models range from about $19,000 – $28,500 depending on the dial and presence of diamonds, while the steel versions start at $4,300 (16mm wide) to $4,600 (20mm wide), and go up $9,000 with diamonds.

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