How Chanel Turned a Button into the Ultimate Secret Watch
A secret watch is a statement piece that shrouds its time-telling components in a luxuriously mysterious way. Flowers, snakeheads, ladybugs – we’ve seen it all. But Chanel managed to bring this concept to another level: a button.
In 1965, George Desrues, a French costume jewelry designer and button craftsman, created his first collection of buttons for Gabrielle Chanel and became the maison’s permanent supplier. Since then, buttons have become the symbol of the brand’s Mademoiselle Privé Bouton collection, inspired by the personal jewelry cherished by Gabrielle Chanel.
Even though Chanel buttons remain anchored in the collective memory for being the ultimate accessory of the legendary tweed jackets, these miniature utilitarian sculptures were unexpectedly brought to the watchmaking universe in 2020 by Arnaud Chastaingt, Director of Chanel Watchmaking Creation Studio.
“For me, creating a ‘button’ watch was one of those artistic obsessions that seems so obvious you can’t get it out of your head,” the director explained. “The Mademoiselle Privé Bouton collection is a showcase for the house’s exceptional savoir-faire; the collection is an ode to creativity and, for me, an extraordinary field of artistic expression. A collection in which time may be worn on the wrist, around the neck, or on the finger.”
Button universe 2022
What makes Chanel a true “Maison of Haute Couture and Joaillerie” is the way it stays authentic to itself while constantly looking for ways to stoke anticipation. And with the brand’s latest collection, the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton, Chanel achieved both these goals putting a new gemstone – the golden pearl – front and center.
And staying faithful to the brand’s tradition of exceptional craftsmanship, the Mademoiselle Privé collection comprises three models: a button with a golden half-pearl that adorns the heart of a necklace (Mademoiselle Privé Sautoirs), a ring (Hors-Série Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Décor Perle Or), and a rigid cuff (Mademoiselle Privé Bouton).
Other than the Hors-Série set, which has a hard shell, Arnaud Chastaingt chose brushed velvet for the straps of two new Mademoiselle Privé Bouton creations. Embellished with a lustrous bronze braid along its edge, the red velvet cuff of this Mademoiselle Privé Bouton model is sealed with a button adorned with a camellia that hides a tiny watch underneath.
“The skilled hands of a sculptor and a gem carver created this exceptional work. The flower design was created by carving a meticulously detailed image into the back of a rock crystal dome. Solidified in the stone, the shape of the rich bronze camellia is revealed and trembles into the light,” explained Mr. Chastaingt.
And for those ardent supporters of statement rings, Chanel came out with a tiny secret button watch ring limited to 5 pieces as part of the Hors-Série Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Décor Perle Or set. You can see an 18K yellow gold button adorned with a golden pearl, an outer 18K yellow gold cord set with 76 brilliant-cut diamonds, and an 18K white gold set with 142 diamond-cut diamonds.
The Mademoiselle Privé Bouton proposes something unique in the fashion watch sector because it celebrates the practical (a simple button) by elevating it with exquisitely mesmerizing craftsmanship. It is a perfect fit that brings together the sophisticated styling of Chanel with the spark of creativity, all while honoring the brand’s traditional design codes via tasteful interpretation.
For more information about the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton, visit the Chanel website.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)