Exquisite Expression: For the CHANEL J12, The Esteemed Maison Crafts The Calibre 5, A Flying Tourbillon
By The Time Place Magazine
Since its unveiling in 1999, the J12 has become one of the foremost pillars of the CHANEL Watchmaking Creation Studio. Considered revolutionary for its ceramic case, the J12 has since been rendered in a variety of models, but notably has remained loyal to the Maison’s signature colours of black and white. This year, the J12 is enriched with a new movement, Calibre 5, as well as the sparkling addition of diamonds. Enter the J12 Diamond Tourbillon watch.
Conceived and designed in Paris by Arnaud Chastaingt, Director of the CHANEL Watchmaking Creation Studio, the Calibre 5 is a flying Tourbillon, the first to be made in-house, and the fifth movement developed and assembled by the watchmakers of the CHANEL Manufacture at La Chaux-de-Fonds. Found at the centre of this high complication is a single diamond, “I wanted to endow the J12 watch with a diamond. Set at the centre of the tourbillon, the solitaire diamond follows the mechanism of the movement, giving time a rhythm that is precious and meditative, almost hypnotic,” said Chastaingt. “For this stone we created a bespoke 65-facet cut: a unique cut for a unique watch, and one that I continue to find fascinating and inspiring.” As the diamond was Gabrielle Chanel’s favourite gemstone, it is fitting that the new J12 model receives a tasteful diamond upgrade.
Staying true to the identity of CHANEL Fine Watchmaking, the movement’s structure is comprised of a series of circular bridges, rendered in black naturally. To enhance the brilliance of the diamonds, Calibre 5 features fine bevelling and exceptional finishing. In addition, the tourbillon cage and the hands are also set with diamonds. Visible in the front and in the back, the stunning mechanism is beautifully exposed with its sophisticated finish adorned with a lion’s head, a unique hallmark of CHANEL Haute Horlogerie Manufacture movements.
To house this breakthrough of watchmaking excellence, Chastaingt went to the drawing board and came up with two exclusive watch designs. The first is rendered in glossy black ceramic and 18-carat white gold, with a bezel adorned with 34 glittering baguette-cut diamonds, while the second, augmented by its stealthy appeal, is in matt black ceramic and steel. Featuring an openwork dial that provides a glimpse into the workings of the diamond-set tourbillon found at its centre, both watches also boast a crown set with a brilliant-cut diamond. The two versions of the CHANEL J12 Diamond Tourbillon are available in a limited edition of 55 pieces.
Another representation of the Maison’s incomparable prowess in watchmaking is the Monsieur Tourbillon Meteorite watch, a timepiece that is, for lack of a better word, otherworldly. Crafted of elegant black ceramic, the remarkable watch is highlighted by two special elements: the lion, emblem of the House, is seen prominently on the tourbillon cage and turns with the rhythm of the seconds, while the dial is exquisitely created from a fragment of a meteorite. The usage of this priceless object from space elevates the novel offering to new heights; as no two space rocks are the same, each Monsieur Tourbillon Meteorite watch is truly unique.
Equipped with the Calibre 5.1 in-house Manufacture flying tourbillon mechanical movement with manual winding, the 42 mm watch has a 72-hour power reserve. Available in a limited edition of 55 pieces, the Monsieur Tourbillon Meteorite watch comes with a black nylon strap with black calfskin trim and lining and steel triple-folding buckle. A sapphire crystal case back bears the inscription “Limited to 55”, pertaining to the high exclusivity of the timepiece.
From space, CHANEL and Arnaud Chastaingt, once again turn to its founder, Gabrielle Chanel, for inspiration. In a spirited undertaking, the Director of the CHANEL Watchmaking Creation takes the particular items Gabrielle Chanel used in her work, including a pair of scissors suspended by a ribbon which she wore on her neck like a sautoir, as well as a pincushion on her wrist, and envisions them as beautiful works of art. The result is the Mademoiselle Privé Pique-Aiguilles.
A beautiful expression of the Maison’s Métiers d’art, the line is comprised of five models, each with its own story to tell. “I dreamed of this creation as a blank canvas for the most audacious Métiers d’art. I have imagined five tableaux for this collection: a lacework of camellias, a composition of iconic bags, jewels strewn on black tweed, a diamond embroidery, and a jacket at the pattern stage,” said Chastaingt.
The first is the Pearls Motif watch, which features jewels strewn over a black tweed effect, including long necklaces, braided chains and Byzantine brooches with diamonds and pearls used as trim. The second is the Lace Motif watch that highlights a lace design of camellias, created through a combination of three Métiers d’art: hand engraving, Grand Feu enamelling, and decal technique. Third and fourth are the Tweed Motif watch and the Embroidery Motif watch. The former showcases a tweed jacket trimmed with 92 diamonds on its dial, as well as the tools of the seamstress—thimble, scissors, tape measure—meticulously crafted in sculpted gold, while the latter depicts the elegance of black fabric embroidered with sequins by using black-coated white gold, snow-set with diamonds and trimmed with a delicate row of tiny gold beads. Lastly, the dial of the Quilted Motif watch presents five iconic bags engraved and modelled in black mother-of-pearl to recreate the effect of quilted leather.
Delivered in a sumptuously oversized 55 mm dial diameter—offering ample space for artistic and creative expression—each Mademoiselle Privé Pique-Aiguilles watch is limited to just 20 pieces. Truly a wonderful demonstration of CHANEL’s watchmaking and Métiers d’art, the five beautiful timepieces convey a story of Couture and of Haute Horlogerie, the very essence of which lie at the heart of CHANEL.