A curious thing happened at Watches & Wonders Geneva 2024: I found myself attracted to multiple watches that were probably originally intended to be worn by women. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, of course, but it isn’t a common sentiment I experience after such a luxury watch trade fair. In fact, the opposite is normally true, i.e., women are keen to wear men’s watches. I suppose it was just a matter of time before the pendulum swung in the other direction. Now, all I need is to muster up the lifestyle to afford some of these watches. A perfect example is the limited edition of just 12 pieces Chanel J12 White Star Couture, a watch so captivating it made our list of the top 10 watches of Watches & Wonders Geneva 2024. Originally intended for women? Probably? Cool on a guy? At least I think so…

The original Chanel J12 is one of my favorite modern timepieces, and as legend goes, it was first designed by a male to be an ideal men’s watch about 25 years ago now. I reviewed my favorite Chanel J12 watch for men right here when talking about the reference H3131. Chanel has made both men’s and women’s versions of the Chanel J12 over the years, popularizing the collection with the use of mostly white or black ceramic to produce a bevy of styles and sizes. Over the last decade or so, Chanel has markedly scaled back on men’s watches. There are no specific “men’s” J12 watches right now, and the men’s watches that Chanel produces are much higher-end and limited in their production. For the most part, the horological side of the Parisian Maison is mostly focused on women’s wrists, and what amazing spectacles the brand releases each year. For 2024, a major theme of Chanel watches was tying into the clothing legacy of Chanel including timepieces that play with the concept of Coco Chanel, the seamstress. That includes everything from J12 watches with scissor hands to an automaton J12 watch.

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While this instant 2024 Chanel watch has “Couture” in the name, it is one of the marvelous new watches from Chanel that are a bit less specific in their theme and just focus on luxury and some of the black and white color codes that have helped define the J12 collection. This is very much an experimental design, which is why it is both so limited and also expensive. It also might be the first steel-cased J12 watch that I know about.

The Chanel J12 White Star Couture (reference H9862) has a 38mm wide case in black-coated steel, with white ceramic and diamond inserts. Steel is used primarily because ceramic is too hard to act as a setting for stones or inlays. The dial, bezel, lugs, and bracelet surface of the J12 White Star Couture are all set with grooved pieces of white ceramic – and it looks beautiful as the bits sparkle in the light. The real sparkle, however, happens on the sides of the case and bracelet, which are set with 11.51 carats of baguette-cut diamonds. An additional diamond is set into the crown as a cabochon. The case is also water resistant to 50 meters, and there is a sapphire crystal over the dial and caseback.

The diamonds set into the side of the watch are interesting because they are both highly luxurious and indirect in their display. The placement of the diamond decoration is playful and less directly ostentatious than, say, a watch with that many diamonds on its more visible surfaces. Rather, the J12 White Star Couture has a very cool black and white checkered effect when looking at it head-on, only to reveal a more sumptuous and flirty look as you turn it to the side. It doesn’t feel like a men’s watch when on the wrist but rather something beautiful you want to admire, which isn’t too small for many men’s wrists to get away with. Mind you, these watches cost nearly half a million dollars, and there will only be 12 of them. Thus, the decision as to whether you would wear one (as a man) is mostly hypothetical for the majority of us.

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Inside the J12 White Star Couture is Chanel’s caliber 12.1 automatic movement, which is produced by Kennissi (i.e., Tudor). The automatic movement operates at 4Hz with 70 hours of power reserve and displays just the time on the dial. Note the additional ring of diamonds set into the automatic rotor as yet another way of making this watch feel high-end and expensive (successfully, I might add). With mostly white on the front and black on the back, this fascinating two-tone watch with diamonds is just so beguiling in its appeal. I’ve fallen for its spell, as I have so many times with Chanel items (mostly from afar, that is).

I recommend that Chanel fans check out the capsule collection of 2024’s Couture timepieces since there are a lot of interesting products, not just wristwatches (there is at least one clock and a few pendant timepieces, as well). I am not entirely sure how the J12 White Star fits into the overall clothing Couture vibe, but I frankly, O don’t really care given how cool this watch is. Price for the Chanel J12 White Star Couture H9862 watch is about $470,000 USD. Learn more at the Chanel website.

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