Rebel Rouser: Chanel’s J-12 Brings Rock Edge To Haute Horlogerie

Rooted in haute couture heritage with a rock ’n’ roll energy, the breakout stars in watches live life on the edge

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Ceramic, white gold, onyx and baguette-cut diamond J12.XS High Jewellery Large Cuff watch with diamond-set gold trimmed leather cuff and patent calfskin straps (one-off piece); leather puffer jacket. All watches and clothing are by Chanel. Latex bra; latex bodysuit, stylist’s own

Time might work in a linear form, but fashion loves to self reference. Streamlined minimalist silhouettes reign one season, to be quickly replaced by more-is-more-is-more the next. The fickle sartorial winds of change regularly take us from the roaring twenties to the swinging sixties and back—all the time demanding that we change our wardrobes to fit. But for a certain kind of woman, fashion is not about embracing the trends of the season, or conforming to traditions.

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Ceramic, white gold, onyx and baguette-cut diamond J12.XS High Jewellery Ring watch with white gold and diamond crown (one-off piece)

No one embodies this spirit better than Coco Chanel. Seen as the mistress of tweed, inter-locking C’s and ropes of pearls, Mademoiselle Chanel actually took women out of corsets and into pants. She got rid of silk bustles and got women into men’s underwear jerseys. In her hands, costume jewellery was as important as high jewellery—and she wore both with aplomb and on the same wrist. That irreverence is celebrated with the new J12.XS. Since its inception by the late Jacques Helleu, Chanel’s legendary Artistic Director, the J12 has been about a mix of masculinity and femininity—the epitome of Coco Chanel’s personal style. The new J12.XS collection continues this paradoxical legacy. It’s small yet bold. Sporty yet sophisticated. Precious yet powerful.

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Ceramic, white gold, onyx and baguette-cut diamond J12.XS High Jewellery Ring watch with white gold and diamond crown (one-off piece)

The J12 legacy also continues in the XS collection with the use of ceramic on the face, paired with diamond-set steel or white gold. But the High Jewellery options are where Coco Chanel’s revolutionary spirit comes through strongest. Working with Maison Causse, the 19mm quartz watch can be clipped onto fingerless lambskin gloves by two pieces of diamond-set steel buckles. Embroidery by Maison Lesage adorns the Long Gloves watch and takes centrestage on the calfskin cuff versions, with three different patterns of glass-bead embroidery. The piece that makes the biggest impact is also the smallest: The High Jewellery Ring watch, set in a ceramic case with an onyx dial, and with a white gold flange covered with 24 baguette-cut diamonds.

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Ceramic, white gold, onyx and baguette-cut diamond J12.XS High Jewellery Ring watch with white gold and diamond crown (one-off piece)

The new watch collection echoes the House’s fall/winter 2016 collection, as well as its latest Haute Couture show—the idea of going back to its roots and self referencing. With these watches, it’s not just about horology, but doing it in the most irreverent way possible—get on my bike, slide on some gloves, and oops, did I forget to tell you the time?

  • By Charmaine Ho
  • Photographed by Park Kyungil.
    Styled by Windy Aulia
  • Model: Seo Yu Jin
    Makeup: Hong Hyun Jung using Chanel
    Hair: Han Kyul
    Producer: Steven Hong/ Pier59 Korea
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