Fashion is not a unclean phrase in watchmaking and hasn’t been for some time amongst educated connoisseurs. Some critical makers like Chanel are proof optimistic that transferring epochal type labels to ticking metallic can entice each watch lovers and fashionistas alike.
In 1987, the corporate that introduced the style world icons together with the little black gown and Chanel No. 5 determined to take watches critically with the Première. Its 2017 thirtieth-anniversary timepiece, the Première Camellia Skeleton, is a masterful haute horlogerie reinterpretation with a visually and technically attention-grabbing manufacture motion.
It’s nice that such an progressive vogue model isn’t content material with easy non-public label horology. Chanel took the arduous street and right this moment boasts possession of Swiss manufacturing services and stakes in prestigious unbiased watchmakers comparable to F.P. Journe and Romain Gauthier.
Which brings us to Chanel’s J12 mannequin. Debuting in 2000 one could even rightfully label this watch that interminable advertising buzzword: iconic.
A ceramic watch very a lot forward of its time, it efficiently fulfilled designer Jacques Helleu’s calls for on it: simplicity and timelessness. And we will certainly add progressive use of ceramic to the listing of its attributes.
But let’s come again to the J12, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary within the unlucky and, horologically talking, drab yr 2020. Despite the dearth of official fanfare as a result of outbreak of COVID-19, Chanel managed to launch one thing to take the breath away.
Chanel J12 X-Ray: wow!
First of all, know this: the J12 X-Ray’s superpower is in typical Chanel J12 method extra materials than horological. It is the world’s first watch with a full sapphire crystal bracelet.
Sapphire has already been used for extra than simply watch crystals – simply try these five sapphire crystal-encased watches from Baselworld 2016.
However, regardless of the rising variety of manufacturers utilizing sapphire crystal instances for primarily restricted editions and one-offs now, it’s nonetheless value highlighting simply how troublesome it’s to work with: eight years in the past in 2012, Richard Mille launched the RM 056 cased totally in sapphire crystal. The model may solely make 5 items per yr as a result of every case took greater than 1,000 hours to machine, with each accomplished retailing at round $1.6 million.
Following that, its use has develop into far more frequent as Hublot has demonstrated with a expertise that mixes the sapphire crystal with resin parts within the Big Bang Unico Sapphire fashions, bringing the worth down exponentially (round $65,000) and permitting the case to be manufactured at quantity (500 items and extra per version).
Despite the advances, nonetheless, no model till now has manufactured a bracelet in sapphire crystal.
I’m not stunned it has taken this lengthy: sapphire crystal is as arduous a cloth to work with as they arrive. It can also be nearly as arduous because it comes, which makes it exceptionally brittle and extremely inclined to wreck if shocked throughout a machining course of (or dropped on a tough floor). Not solely that, although not fairly as heavy as 18-karat gold sapphire crystal is kind of heavy. Pick up that Richard Mille RM 056 and you might be more likely to be stunned by its heft.
Nonetheless, the J12 X-Ray’s case and three-link bracelet are made from the clear corundum materials, with the buckle and bezel in diamond-set white gold. This bracelet is a world premiere.
The dial can also be sapphire crystal and set with 12 baguette-cut diamond hour markers. And speak about minuscule work: I’d not wish to be the one to must drill the tiny holes in that sapphire crystal dial clean to set the stones. That’s a virtually not possible job as a result of hardness and brittleness of the fabric, one which it’s so liable to splintering. That’s undoubtedly a fragile operation.
The caliber powering this marvel is a brand new iteration of Caliber 3, referred to as Caliber 3.1, which additionally accommodates a variety of sapphire crystal parts, together with the bottom plate and foremost bridges. The impact is that the seen metallic parts and artificial rubies seem to drift like Wonder Woman inside her invisible jet.
Caliber 3.1 is a reworked model of Caliber 3, launched in 2018 within the Boy.Friend Skeleton. Chanel reviews that it takes every week to assemble the fragile elements (however sadly has not but revealed far more than what I’ve shared right here).
I’m unsure we’ll ever get to see this piece within the metallic or – gasp – deal with it. So the gorgeous video on the Chanel website must suffice in the intervening time. But such is the violent nature of 2020’s mercurial capacity to be each boring and anxiety-inducing on the identical time.
But what a method for Chanel to have a good time the J12’s twentieth-anniversary! I salute the high-visibility audacity.
For extra data, please go to www.chanel.com/us/watches/manufacture-movement-watches.
Quick Facts Chanel J12 X-Ray
Case: 38.6 x 10.7 mm, sapphire crystal with a diamond-set white gold bezel (5.46 ct), diamond-set crown
Movement: handbook winding manufacture Caliber 3.1, skeletonized, energy reserve 50 hours; 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, variable inertia stability, sapphire crystal plates and bridges
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 12 items