Two big Parisian brands, Hermès and Chanel, who have both acquired a horological legitimacy with completely different styles, are counting on their “pavilions” to convey their message, as is the Movado Group, which brings together its flagship brands under the same new roof.
Barely ten years ago, Chanel attended BaselWorld for the first time, with the aim of “strengthening its position in the prestige watchmaking universe,” as the brand’s management said. Its entrance was marked by the launch of the J12 in white, a colour that was far from de rigueur in high-end watchmaking and which Chanel succeeded in establishing.
In ten years, Chanel has not just “strengthened” its position but has become a key player, with strong and immediately recognisable products (J12, Première, Mademoiselle Privé), at the crossroads between Parisian style and Swiss watchmaking. The horological content of its products has increasingly gained importance, with the result that it scooped an award at last year’s Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix with the highly accomplished Première Tourbillon Volant model.
To mark its ten years of presence in Basel, Chanel, now in Hall 1, inaugurates a new three-storey stand (1,580 m2), designed by American architect Peter Marino. The man, who seems to be the exact opposite of someone like Toyo Ito with his trademark leather suit and leather cap on his head, is popular among the big fashion houses, including Chanel, for whom he has already designed a number of stores. Using the colour codes of the Paris fashion house, he has designed a spectacular white monolith for Basel, with strong geometric shapes, set on a black base in aluminium. The message is certainly different to that of Hermès: clear-cut and lively, minimalist and rigorously structured, where Hermès opts for curves, fluidity and sombre colours.
But architecture is also paid tribute to by Chanel thanks to a major offensive for the Première collection, whose shape is, as we know, directly inspired by the Place Vendôme in Paris, the fashion house’s headquarters. In steel, white gold, yellow gold, with or without diamonds on the bezel, or even with a fully-paved bracelet and dials in black lacquer or white mother-of-pearl, the Première shows its absolute versatility in a charming promotional film shot for the occasion, which shows Parisian ladies in the daytime, at night, in everyday settings or at sophisticated happenings, all casually wearing their Première, mixed with other bracelets, on a Vespa, on the train, in the street or out on the town. Launched in 1987, over 25 years ago, the Première does not show a single wrinkle and even proves, with the sublime Première Tourbillon Volant Saphirs, that it goes perfectly well with high-end mechanical watchmaking.
Besides this major offensive for the Première, Chanel is also presenting new versions of its other icon, the J12, with, among other things, the ultra-white J12 White Phantom. There is also a good-looking J12 Noir Mat Superleggera chronograph for men or, at the high end, a new version of the J12 Chromatic Rétrograde Mystérieuse.
When architecture is the message
Hermès in fluid curves
Chanel, a monolith in black and white
MGI/Movado Group Inc. - The architectural birth of a group
Source: Europa Star April - May 2013 magazine issue