You might wonder what makes Chanel’s latest J12 timepieces so different from the rest of its coveted brethren at first glance. In fact, with its launch taking place right after the Electro Capsule Collection of rainbow-hued wrist-takers earlier this year, you might even think Chanel released these understated designs as a sort of breather before its next collection of headliners is ready to enamour the style-loving public. We assure you that that is definitely not the case here.
Available in the brand’s famed intense black or stark white high-resistance ceramic (four times harder than steel), the watches admittedly offer little aesthetic novelty: The 33mm case size has been a mainstay in the collection since its inception in 2000, and the baguette-cut patterned sapphire crystal bezel is a design feature we’ve seen most recently on the playful Mademoiselle J12 Acte II and astounding see-through J12 X-Ray watches.
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But what makes these pieces truly stand out is their significance to the J12 legacy and the progression of Chanel’s standing as a watchmaker. Unlike their 33mm predecessors, which are equipped with a quartz movement, these J12 Calibre 12.2 Edition 1 models house a sparkling new automatic calibre that has been chronometer-certified by the COSC (or Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres, the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute responsible for certifying the accuracy and precision of Swiss watches).
Designed and developed exclusively for the Maison by Swiss movement and component manufacturer Kenissi (of which Chanel owns a 20 percent stake), the Calibre 12.2 allows Chanel to present design-forward watch lovers with a J12 option that promises the best of two worlds: Sleek iconoclastic looks powered by technical prowess—all wrapped in a case smaller than an Oreo cookie.
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With its tone-on-tone lacquer and ceramic numeral dial, and an inverted brilliant-cut diamond on its crown, the J12 Calibre 12.2 Edition 1 is not only a fitting continuation of the J12 tale that began 21 years ago; it also marks the natural progression of a House bent on producing serious watches that cannot be dismissed. And the hard work and dedication that Chanel has put into this time-telling universe is showing. In 2019, the J12 Calibre 12.1 took home top honours in the standard-setting Fondation du Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève’s Ladies Watch Prize category—just one of many such honours that the House has won through the years for its timepieces.
When seen in the light of the J12’s accoladed heritage, the latest additions do have a lot to live up to. But with so many established siblings having pathed the way before, the petite timepieces do so with confidence and ease in their own understated-chic—and thoroughly Chanel—way.
Stylist: Jeffrey Yan
Models: Janice Low/Basic Models; Aloysius Chua/NOW Model Management
Makeup: Wee Ming
Hair: Edward Chong/ Evolve Salon