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CHANEL – When watchmaking and jewellery combine their effects…

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December 2012


CHANEL’s approach to watchmaking relies on intangible stylistic codes originally set down by Mademoiselle Chanel. They are at the heart of its profound identity involving simplicity of forms, rigour of colours, and authenticity of materials. When these pure architectural forms, these clean colours favouring black and white and these uncompromising materials combine with diamonds and precious gemstones, the exceptional results speak for themselves. Diamonds and precious stones reinforce the architectural purity of the form, illuminate the richness of the colour, and emphasise the boldness of the material. Watchmaking and jewellery seem to come together, not in an artificial manner, but rather in a natural combination that results in one remarkable and, therefore, timeless object.

The Première Flying Tourbillon offers a spectacular and poetic example of the precious fusion between fine watchmaking and high jewellery. The 228 diamonds (approximately 7.7 carats total weight) that are set in the 18-carat white-gold case and bezel underscore, in a brilliant and vivid manner, the clean lines of the case of the Première collection, inspired, as we know, by the geometry of the Place Vendôme and the famous stopper of the CHANEL No. 5 perfume bottle.

In this jewellery version, however, its stylised geometry is seen on two levels. The middle case is surmounted by a bezel that majestically frames the black ceramic dial. The corners have been truncated, conferring upon the piece additional dynamism and lustre. The case’s two-level architecture allows for a multitude of stone-setting variations. Thus, for example, the lower part of the case can be set with vertical, rectangular baguette diamonds along the entire edge, except in the cut-off corners that are highlighted by square-cut diamonds, while the side of the bezel can be set with round diamonds. Or, alternatively, the bezel can be set with baguette diamonds, with or without coloured stones that, by mixing their fiery brilliance, come together to create new harmonious combinations. The possible variations and combinations are endless. On the edge of the case, a large crown is also set with baguette and round diamonds.

CHANEL – When watchmaking and jewellery combine their effects…

This rigorous magic of jewellery allows the light fully to play its role in highlighting the floral sculpture that rotates on the dial. It is a flying tourbillon in the form of a camellia whose interlocking petals are carved in metal, while its diamond-set heart is surrounded by a semi-transparent lacy net, giving the flower its delicate texture. This ethereal camellia makes one rotation per minute and the petals indicate the passing seconds. The hour and minute hands are placed slightly off-centre, higher on the black dial, and are also set with diamonds. This in itself represents quite a feat given the size of the diamonds and the slenderness of the gold hands.

The timepiece evokes high jewellery, of course, but it also represents a wonderful example of prestige watchmaking. This poetic and mysterious camellia is a flying tourbillon whose cage—devoid of an upper bridge, but containing the regulating organ of the watch (in other words, the escapement, balance, and balance spring)—seems to twirl around weightlessly. It is a true timekeeping exploit, developed in collaboration with the Swiss constructors, engineers, and master watchmakers at Renaud & Papi (APRP), the advanced research and development unit of the Audemars Piguet manufacture.

With the Première Flying Tourbillon, CHANEL offers women a true mechanical timekeeping complication and demonstrates that the rigour of its stylistic approach also works well with the most luminous poetry.

An interplay of materials
Another fascinating fusion of two materials that would, at first glance, seem unlikely is the union of high-tech ceramic and diamonds. The marriage of this high-tech composite material—which is hard, silky, and resistant to harsh environmental conditions—and carbon transformed into diamond over the mists of time, produces an exceptional effect. With the J12, CHANEL’s cult timepiece (and the first to give high-tech ceramic its letters of nobility), the use of diamonds and precious stones only enhances the well-balanced architecture while accentuating its easily recognisable design.

The J12—whether simply set with diamonds on its bezel or radiant when fully paved with diamonds—clearly demonstrates the extent of the piece’s versatility. Always different, yet still the same, the new watch increases these effects due to the unchanging design of its case and bracelet that lend themselves perfectly to the new and rich unions that marry ceramic, white gold, yellow gold, round or baguette diamonds and precious coloured gemstones such as emeralds, rubies, and sapphires.

CHANEL – When watchmaking and jewellery combine their effects… CHANEL – When watchmaking and jewellery combine their effects…

An example of this type of union is the new version of the J12 that combines 18-carat white gold, cognac (or pink) sapphires, and high-tech titanium ceramic. The unique colour and glow of this highly scratch-resistant titanium ceramic is obtained by adding titanium to the ceramic itself, which is then polished using diamond powder. The result is a special luminosity, whose soft and subtle reflections combine perfectly with the delicate radiance of the 36 cognac (or pink) baguette-cut sapphires, set all around the bezel (for a total weight of approximately 6.1 carats). On the dial, twelve diamonds mark the passage of the hours. Powered by an automatic mechanical movement, this J12 is available in cases measuring either 38 mm or 33 mm in diameter. Water-resistant to 50 metres, it has a case back and a triple fold-over clasp in titanium. Another subtlety is the 18-carat white-gold crown that is set with a cognac (or pink) sapphire cabochon. [References: H3125 for pink sapphires and H3295 for cognac sapphires]

Another jewellery version of the J12 is an 18-carat white-gold model that is fully paved with 1,018 diamonds ( 11.9 carats). An amazing example of brilliance and sparkle, the full-diamond pavé-setting dramatically emphasises the strong and clearly defined lines of the J12’s case, bezel, dial and the links of its supple bracelet.

The black dial is surrounded by diamond pavé, while twelve black diamonds make up the hour markers. Its crown is set with 12 diamonds ( 0.07 carat) and is surmounted with a pointed onyx cabochon.

Water-resistant to 50 metres, this supremely jewellery version of the J12 is equipped with a high-quality quartz movement and is available in the three sizes of 38, 33 and 29 mm in diameter. [Reference: H2919]

Exploring the secret of Mademoiselle Privé
Inspired by the plaque that was on the door of the private workshop of Mademoiselle Chanel, “Mademoiselle Privé” is the name that CHANEL has given to a new collection of pure and essential watches that lend themselves to the creation of majestic dials evoking the highest level of creativity possible.

Highly classical, the perfectly round case of the Mademoiselle Privé is thus devoid of lugs and is mounted on an integrated strap. With its clean lines, this disc is perfect for snow setting, but it also permits a variety of other exceptional work to be carried out on the dials of this new collection.

The best example of this decorative work has been inspired directly by the famous and sumptuous Chinese Coromandel screens that still decorate the apartment of Mademoiselle Chanel. The person to whom the French house turned for the difficult task of reproducing some of these particularly refined Coromandel screens in grand feu enamel is Anita Porchet, the most reputed specialist in the field of enamelling on watches. Porchet works on a finely engraved base, which is then covered with an exceptionally deep and rich black enamel. The task requires not only a great level of artistic skill but also demands an intimate knowledge of the secrets of grand feu enamelling. This work means that she must apply one colour at a time, since each colour needs its own firing time and temperature, as the colours change during the operation. At each step, all of the hard work runs the risk of being compromised due to a mistake in the firing.

CHANEL – When watchmaking and jewellery combine their effects…

Each timepiece is thus unique, inspired by a different scene drawn from the Coromandel screens, whose name is engraved on the gold case back.

Surrounded by a case entirely set with snow-set white diamonds, which gives the piece a silky look, mounted on a black Mississipiensis alligator leather strap, the dial of the Mademoiselle Privé is surmounted by two simple open-worked hands. The result is a magnificently highlighted dial that befits its status as a true work of art.

A mind full of symbols
The perfect circle of the dial of the Mademoiselle Privé lends itself to all sorts of variations in poetic and jewellery design. Constellations, comets, stars, camellias, feathers… So many motifs directly inspired by Mademoiselle Chanel’s mind full of symbols, so much savoir-faire finding a unique expression, so many different approaches to highlight the precious artistic skills involved in this collection that reveals the entire mindset of CHANEL.

In this manner, La Plume pays homage to the “Bijoux de Diamants” collection of Mademoiselle Chanel, a collection born in 1932 out of a visionary look at freedom and modernity. It was in this collection that the feather motif appeared for the first time, in the form of a sumptuous brooch.

At the same time detailed, open-worked, voluptuous, and ready to fly away, La Plume offers an infinite level of creativity, like the most daring of precious pieces. In this case, it is an enchanted feather that is designed on the black enamel dial of the Mademoiselle Privé collection. Sculpted in relief in 18-carat white gold, the feather motif is decorated with grain-set and invisible-set diamonds and pink sapphires that create a subtle gradation of colour. The pink lacquer applied to the tips of the feather underscore its delicacy. The 37.5-mm 18-carat white-gold case is covered in snow-set diamonds and pink sapphires. Powered by an automatic mechanical winding movement with a 42-hour power reserve, the Mademoiselle Privé Plume is mounted on a black Mississippi alligator strap with a diamond-set fold-over clasp.

CHANEL – When watchmaking and jewellery combine their effects…

The favourite flower of Gabrielle Chanel, the camellia, is honoured in another creation that elegantly combines stone setting with a mother-of-pearl sculpture. Composed of a dozen different elements, it is a true carved mother-of-pearl flower, with hand-sculpted petals that are each a different shape. Assembled as a very delicate inlay, these petals make up a camellia that marvellously evokes the smoothness and softness of the original flower.

This splendid camellia blooms on a black onyx dial set with seven diamond hour markers, and evokes subtle reflections that breathe life and femininity into the watch. Two floral-shaped hands, entirely cut out, complete this exquisitely refined painting, a work of art enclosed by an 18-carat white-gold case set with diamonds and driven by a high-precision quartz movement. This Mademoiselle Privé is mounted on a black satin strap and a buckle set with diamonds.

Source: Europa Star December - January 2012-13 Magazine Issue