Baselworld 2019: Chanel’s New J12 Movement For The Future, And The Future Is Now
Chanel presented opulent all-black Monsieur and Boy.friend watches plus an outstanding new movement for the J12.
Introducing the J12's New Automatic Movement
The J12 has seen many iterations since it first burst onto the watch scene almost 20 years ago, sending shock waves throughout the industry. Chanel's ceramic watch has - ahem - seen its share of copycats over the years, but make no mistake, this is the original. The sleek ceramic case and bracelet have become an iconic design worldwide and a bestseller for the brand.
A new in-house automatic movement raises the watch to a whole new level. Chanel’s caliber 12.1 was fully designed and made by Chanel in their manufacture, and it's the fourth manufacture movement for the brand. The first three weren’t exactly simple, either. A jumping hour indicator appeared in the Monsieur watch’s caliber 1, followed by two skeletonized movements - one in the Première Squelette Camélia ladies piece (Caliber 2), and one in the new iteration of the Boy.friend watch, the Caliber 3, that's shaped to fit precisely into the watch's rectangular case.
The J12’s Subtle New Design Refinements
A closer look at the 2019 J12 reveals subtle design changes engineered for the new chapter in the J12 story. Chanel sought to increase the dial opening and did it by modifying and refining the bezel. Numerals have a redesigned typeface and are now in ceramic applied to the dial. The bezel now has 40 notches instead of the original 30, and the crown was downsized by a third. It all looks fantastic, but it’s the new movement that really excites us.
Men in Black - The New Monsieur Edition Noire
Chanel’s first in-house movement appeared in the form of the Chanel Monsieur men’s watch in 2016. It’s a jumping-hour movement with retrograde minutes and running seconds. For those not accustomed to jumping hours, the design can be intimidating at first, but it’s super-elegant and a collector favorite.
The all-black Monsieur Edition Noire exudes masculinity and power. It has a matte black dial and ceramic and steel case, set off by black alligator straps held in place by a steel folding buckle. Two versions were made of the original Monsieur: one in white gold and one in Chanel’s proprietary beige gold, in limited editions of just 150 each. Availability is even more restricted in the new model, with only 55 total watches to be produced.
The Boy.friend Skeleton Edition Noire
This year’s Boy.friend watch will also be playing hard to get. Fifty-five pieces will be all the world will see, and the watch is certainly worth a look. The skeleton movement we first saw last summer is presented here in a black ceramic case in the large version of the watch. Rather than more traditional skeleton movements that are polished metal, Chanel’s is brass that’s coated in black ADLC. Interestingly, in another unusual move, Chanel designed the Calibre 3 to be a skeleton movement from the get-go. It’s not a carved-out existing movement. It was born this way.
The movement's circular bridges are a big focal point and create a design symmetry that we don’t often see in a movement. The black circles are visually evocative of the French brand’s double C logo.
The manually wound movement holds a power reserve of 55 hours, the same number as the Boy.friend Edition Noire's limited edition of just 55 pieces.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)