Chanel The Première is 30 years young
With the Première, the watch becomes an authentic piece of jewelry, embodying the quintessence of femininity and far surpassing the pure functional aspect of its nature.
In 2017, Chanel is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its watchmaking adventure, an anniversary that coincides with that of the watch that embodied this debut under the finest auspices. In three decades, the brand has engaged in all the crafts involved in Fine Watchmaking. This involves approaching horology as an object of pleasure, without making any compromises with regard to the technical and craftsmanship expertise required to create precious objects, ready to defy time. In October 1987, when Chanel introduced a watch, this launch was totally unexpected. It was named Première, a name with multiple meanings. It is the one that precedes others in time, space and rank. It is principal and superior. It is that which is made for the first time, that which takes top place. In the field of transport, it refers to the most comfortable class; and in Haute Couture, to the female director of the atelier. In watchmaking it is the Première watch exclusively created for women by Chanel. It echoes the shape of the N°5 fragrance bottle stopper, as well as that of the Place Vendôme. Contrary to everything that had been done before, this watch intended for women is not a miniature version of a men’s watch.
Personified by Inès de la Fressange, it is both an authentic timepiece and a fashion accessory. It is ready for everything and carries its name with aplomb and panache. The Première watch heralded the first chapter in the Maison’s history with watchmaking. With it, Chanel literally gave pride of place to time, presenting it as a smooth, flat surface evoking every possibility. The watch thus became an authentic piece of jewelry, embodying the quintessence of femininity and far surpassing the pure functional aspect of its nature. Everything resides in this art of surprise and wonderment, in this inextinguishable desire to create. The icons of the Maison have inspired a wealth of timepieces: Pearls, Camellias, Comets, the Matelassé motif and the Ribbon have all encircled the wrist and contributed to the ceaseless renewal of feminine watchmaking codes. Right from the start, everything was designed, developed and produced in-house. No outsourcing, no licensing agreements. Chanel watchmaking is done by Chanel.
At Chanel, watchmaking techniques remain resolutely in tune with the Creative Studio, never the other way around. Everything is done with respect for Swiss traditions that adapt to the creative ambitions dreamed up in Paris. A Chanel watch is always entirely unexpected. It calibrates time, boldly giving new twists to design codes. In another vein, in 2012, to mark its 25th anniversary, the Première watch treated itself to a flying tourbillon. Chanel time took flight as the brand offered women the opportunity to enter a world of extreme mechanical complexity. Tourbillons of diamonds stylized in the form of a camellia or a comet, original horological complications… With technology dedicated to serving creative momentum, Chanel literally knows no limits, expressed through a rapid-fire string of innovations. That year, the brand won its first prize, in the “Ladies’ Watch” category, at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the prestigious annual awards for the finest creations and the most influential actors in the watch industry.
1987-2017. Just 30 years, and the same relentless desire to go further, higher. A Swiss Manufacture, a steady stream of patents and inventions. Watches that exalt time. For 30 years, Chanel has been expressing its own unique vision of watchmaking, fired by the same desire to create: at the end of the year, Chanel will launch a new design, an authentic token of recognition to be worn on the wrist. In 2017, Chanel Horlogerie has a bright future ahead of it, with watches interpreting the aesthetic of time, year after year.
Since 2012, the rare models in the dreamy Mademoiselle Privé collection have been turning heads and time. Unbelievable dials, refined movements, revisited artisanal techniques such as gold thread embroidery, mother-of-pearl and diamond marquetry, glyptic techniques: nothing is impossible. Beneath the nimble fingers of the greatest enamellists, engravers and gemsetters, this collection is writing a whole new page in the creative history of Chanel watchmaking, and becoming a privileged field of expression for skills exercised with consistent excellence.
The Mademoiselle Privé Camélia Brodé watch, featuring a dial embroidered from colored silk threads using the “needle painting” technique, enabled Chanel to win its second Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève award in 2013, in the “Artistic Crafts” category.
In 2017, it was the stained-glass windows of Aubazine Abbey, a Cistercian monastery where Gabrielle Chanel spent part of her youth, that inspired the diamond-studded geometrical motif. Framed by a round white gold case, myriads of diamonds have been set, drawing all eyes towards the dial. Three models co-exist, featuring patterns every bit as complex as a gothic rose window. They are traced by black rhodium-plated white gold bands set with brilliant- baguette, rose- and triangle-cut diamonds. The eye follows them much as a pilgrim moves around a cloister. The rich symbolic Mademoiselle Privé universe pays tribute to absolute femininity, that of the curve, the counter-curve and the light that surges from darkness. It is an invitation to serene contemplation, like that extended by a stained-glass window.
In 2015, Chanel presented the Boy.Friend watch. This watch with its masculine look is entirely dedicated to women. Its octagonal shape recalls the emblematic and iconic Première watch, while setting itself apart at first glance. This creation is in keeping with the watchmaking vocabulary of the Maison, imbued with its understated sense of refined aesthetics. Its lines are powerful and its shape bears the unmistakable Chanel signature. The design is both contemporary and classic, while the angles are polished and satin-brushed. Everything is a matter of visual appeal, balance, proportions and details. When masculine touches reveal a feminine side… Chanel embarks its first horological creation for women, the Première watch, on a journey to a territory of masculine codes, the better to divert them. The Boy.Friend watch embodies the art of giving a new twist to elements of the masculine wardrobe. Back in the day, this principle of reappropriation had marked the rise of an entirely new style, that of Gabrielle Chanel.
The enigmatically named Boy.Friend overturns the classic design codes of feminine watchmaking, and yet it is clearly made with women in mind. It is not merely about size, since its broader versions adopt decidedly masculine dimensions. Its wristband comes as a classic alligator strap, as well as a metal bracelet coordinated with the case in steel or beige gold, and bearing the signature Chanel motif : tweed. The Boy.Friend Tweed models are fitted with metal bracelets featuring a stamped surface inevitably reminding one of the texture of Chanel skirt suits. Born of a distinctive steel mesh, this bracelet recalling the richness of a finely woven cloth represents a technical feat and this “fabric” naturally finds its place on the wrist.
Through her life, Gabrielle Chanel embodied strength, character and a fierce desire for independence. Maison CHANEL, avant-garde and constantly innovative, has come down through the decades to become an unmistakable symbol of distinction, elegance and refinement.Find out more
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