Monsieur by Chanel: the art of “diffracting” time with emotion
Displaying time with emotion? Chanel has recently added a new piece to its watch wardrobe. The brand’s first ever men’s watch features a classic, chic case and an original display mode – pure tailormade.
Chanel's watchmaking saga started some 30 years ago with the launch of the “Première”.
Revealed in 1987, the watch, luxurious and feminine next to the tidal wave of Swatch watches, was equipped with a middle that was inspired by the cabochon stopper of the Chanel N°5. Its immediate success was due to the fact that women were seeking the “right watch equation” at the time. The sober and luxurious piece featured combinations that only Parisian fashion can concoct. As the brand's first watch, it initiated a global reflection that the late Jacques Helleu, Chanel's Artistic Director back then, knew would bear its fruits in the early 2000s.
Watchmakers themselves have admitted it – watchmaking is addictive.
This is what happened to Chanel – caught in the creating game, the brand, which acquired the G&F Châtelain workshops in La Chaux-de-Fonds (Switzerland) in 1993, put a lot of effort in turning watches into fashion accessories and potentially indispensable objects. In 2000, with the introduction of the J12 (a ceramic sports watch) the flagship fashion brand gave its fame to ceramics, a technical material that was thought to be almost untamable.
In spite of the many watches it has so far produced, Chanel's watch collection was lacking a range of timepieces that men who are passionate about watchmaking would also want to slip on their wrists. Thus, five years ago, the brand started the creation of a mechanical caliber behind closed doors. It was to be housed in a watch that was designed to be a game-changer for Chanel's watchmaking approach. Far from sporting traditional codes, the Monsieur watch by Chanel was, from its inception, meant to redefine the masculine watchmaking paradigm by founding new stylistic values.
The advent of retro futurism
Chanel's Monsieur is by no means a classic watch – it is simply a different principle; a statement of independence.
The paradoxical and unique piece has been produced in 18K beige gold – one of Chanel’s specialties – and a 40-mm case, which is the consensual reference of ideal dimensions around the world. The middle is chic with a deliberately stocky design and its thin bezel enhances the dial. The dial is literally the space for all revolutions, as the seconds hand makes one turn in one minute whilst the minute hand advances in an atypical way, drawing a 240° arc. And when it reaches the end of the arc, it goes back to its starting point in a flash to inexorably start its journey again. At this point, you may be wondering about the hours. Well, they are indicated with numbers in an aperture at 6 o'clock and change the moment the minute hand reaches the end of its trajectory before it immediately jumps back to its starting point.
A heart appropriate for an organized deconstruction
So, we all agree that the watch, produced in a numbered series with a simple and direct name to target the individuals it was designed for, plays the originality card to the T. Further proof of that is its unexpected hand-wound movement.
Visible through the transparent back, Chanel’s Calibre 1 stands out thanks to a layout that emphasizes the circle. Indeed, the main bridge is cut in a way to allow the 30 main rubies to be placed on a circle. Thus, the two barrels that provide the three-day power reserve thanks to the 700 g/mm couple are highlighted. The 32 x 5.5-mm movement, coated in black and visible through the sapphire back, was designed, developed and produced at the brand's G&F Châtelain workshops in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
That's a first, and the work done for this watch, which will most certainly lead to the production of other pieces, gives a genuine edge to this seemingly sober timepiece. An astonishing watch in myriad ways, it will appeal to enthusiasts seeking timepieces with a strong aura that allows them to experience time differently through a deconstruction of its traditional representation. After all, fashion is all about redefining perspectives.