June 29, 2018
by Carol Besler
When brands introduce new watches at Baselworld, it’s usually at a 5:1 ratio of men’s to ladies’ pieces. At the Chanel booth, the exact opposite happens—and that’s one of the reasons why we love them. At Baselworld 2018, Chanel added brand new models to the J12, Code Coco, Mademoiselle Privé, Boyfriend, and Premiere collections. Oh, and they debuted one men’s piece too.
Code Coco is the newest collection to emerge from Chanel’s Swiss watchmaking division, and like most other watches in the ladies’ lineup, it takes design cues from the traditional Coco Chanel aesthetic. To be exact, it was inspired by one of the world’s most recognizable handbags: the Chanel 2.55, designed by Mademoiselle Chanel in 1955 and still sold today. The bag is known for its distinctive clasp and quilted leather body, both of which are represented in the Code Coco watches. The clasp, nicknamed the “Mademoiselle Lock,” is the primary design feature of the Code Coco. It separates the upper and lower squares of the case and it turns, just like the clasp on a handbag, clicking into place either horizontally or vertically on the front of the case, which alternately hides or exposes the dial.
The upper dial is set with a single diamond, while the lower one tells time. The bracelet is grooved in a quilted pattern to resemble the leather body of the 2.55 and other Chanel bags. There are several versions of the Code Coco, set with diamonds on the bezel, dial and/or bracelet, in stainless steel or black ceramic and steel. It is priced at $6,500 without diamonds and $11,000 with diamonds. Case dimensions are 38.1 x 21.5mm, and it is water-resistant to 30m. The dial is black lacquered, and it’s powered by a quartz movement.
The same elongated case shape—inspired by the No.5 Chanel perfume bottle—is used in the Boyfriend collection, which derives its name from the watch’s more masculine lines. This refers to the beveled case and beveled bridges of the open movement, so I assume that Chanel interprets curves as feminine and angles as masculine. Similar to the concept behind today’s trendy “boyfriend” jeans, if this were a men’s watch and your boyfriend had one, you would want to borrow it (or you could just get your own, which is the idea here). The new piece, the Boyfriend Skeleton, contains a new, skeletonized movement, Chanel’s third in-house movement, called the Caliber 3. Coincidentally, it also took three years to produce the movement. The Boyfriend Skeleton is made of 18k beige gold, Chanel’s light rose gold alloy, and it is available with ($51,400) or without ($40,600) diamonds.
The 18k white or beige gold case is set with 64 diamonds, water-resistant to 30m, and powered by a quartz movement. The Boyfriend was also introduced with a selection of brightly colored straps this year, right in line with the emerging trend towards more vibrant colors in watch straps and dials. There are three case sizes, with alligator straps in a choice of five colors: pink, coral, light blue, blue jeans, or nude. The straps are sold separately at $400 each.
The case shape is used again on the Chanel Premiere, and this year’s new piece, the Rock Gold, is also inspired by Chanel’s design language, with an additional nod to ’80s-era gold glamour. The strap is inspired by Chanel’s iconic woven leather and metal handbag chain, using steel that’s woven with a specially treated shiny golden fabric. The wraparound style is a trend at the moment, and it’s seen in collections by Bulgari, Baume & Mercier, Hermès, and more. The case, available in 6 sizes with the regular double-row strap or in 4 sizes with the triple wrap strap, is steel and water-resistant to 30m; the movement is quartz. This set is a limited edition of 1,000 pieces priced at $4,600.
The J12, which kick-started the ceramic watch trend two decades ago, has been reimagined in almost every way possible since its inception: complicated movements (there are tourbillon and GMT versions); diamonds and other gemstones; pastel colored ceramic; and various sizes. This year Chanel goes with the style of “metiers,” with a ceramic marquetry dial and bezel in a black and white abstract pattern, with 18k gold threads between each section. This line, called the J12 Untitled, is a collection of 12 watches that together form a “polyptych.” The caseback, crown, hands, and folding buckle are 18k white gold. The watch, with an automatic movement, is water resistant to 50m and is priced at $39,000. Two other J12 Untitled watches with abstract dials in lacquer, one in black and the other in white, will be produced in limited editions of 1,200 pieces each ($5,700). These two models have rhodium-plated hands, a steel folding buckle, and an automatic movement. They’re water-resistant to 200m.
The luxe collection in the Mademoiselle Privé line has been fitted with a new movement this year: Chanel’s in-house, manual-wound Caliber 2.1, skeletonized to resemble a camelia flower. It is then combined with an auxiliary upper plate set with either 242 diamonds or onyx. The plates and bridges of the movement in both models are set with 185 diamonds, and the buckle is set with 80 diamonds. The crown, hands, and buckle are also 18k white gold. It is priced at $94,700 with onyx and diamonds (1.76 carats) and $121,100 with full diamonds (2.50 carats). chanel.com