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Chanel - J12 celebrates its 20th anniversary, part 1

Chanel J12 celebrates its 20th anniversary, part 1

Discover or rediscover this watchmaking icon from 2000 to 2010.

Twenty years of audacity, twenty years of success. Twenty years of an incomparable watchmaking journey. From the outset, the J12 transformed ceramic into a precious material and rewrote two hundred years of history to redefine the standards of feminine watchmaking. Jacques Helleu, the artistic director of Chanel at the time, created this piece to fulfill his own desires. He wanted a beautiful yet different watch. Revolutionary, the J12 was immediately crowned the first watchmaking icon of the 21st century. 

Since the beginning, the J12 has drawn its inspiration from this irrepressible desire to shake up the codes by combining a unique artistic approach and exquisite technical expertise, by being daring and innovative. The J12 captures the spirit of the time like no other. It craves innovation and inspiration and showcases it. The secret of its infinite creativity lies here in this initial act of design, in the perpetual back and forth to make it timeless, in the inherent science of movement. 

First launched in black in 2000, the watch surprises three years later with its white ceramic 38-mm and 33-mm versions. More than a novelty, it was a stylistic and watchmaking seismic shock. The success is instant. In the process, the J12 unravels into a myriad of identities by opening up the palette of watch complications it had set in motion in 2002, with its first chronograph. 

La J12 fête ses 20 ans, partie 1

J12-H0685 © Chanel

2005, the J12 is equipped with a tourbillon. The surprise is huge! The J12 loves watchmaking! Was there ever any doubt? That same year, the watch discovers the mysteries of ultra-lightness: created in aluminum like the chassis of sports cars, the J12 Superleggera prides itself on high performance. 

La J12 fête ses 20 ans, partie 1

J12-H1713 Tourbillon and J12-H1624 Superleggera © Chanel

2007, it sets off on a voyage with the launch of the J12 GMT equipped with a second time zone. Joining forces with Audemars Piguet the following year, a high-end caliber (AP 3125) is designed, for which Chanel redesigns the balance bridge and the golden rotor coated in black ceramic. 

La J12 fête ses 20 ans, partie 1

J12-H2012-GMT and J12-H2129-Calibre 3125 © Chanel

2009, the J12 Noir Intense takes a new step on the Haute Horlogerie trajectory. For this year, Chanel’s Swiss workshops at La Chaux-de-Fonds transforms a block of pure ceramic into 724 baguettes, which when set, give the J12 an absolutely amazing allure. A world first, once again. No other watch manufacturer had ever set ceramic like this before. Produced in a limited series of five, the J12 Noir Intense is powered by the caliber 3125 developed in association with Audemars Piguet whose stylistic nobility is no secret. Ever so beautiful and complex. 

La J12 fête ses 20 ans, partie 1

J12-H2418 Noir Intense © Chanel

2010, the J12 sets sail. Water-resistant to 300 meters and fitted with a rubber strap, the J12 Marine is a real deep diver, and the perfect icon of sport-chic. 2010 marked yet another major turning point, now after 10 years, the J12 goes even further, pushing boundaries, redefining the unimaginable. Making its deepest imagination reality. The result is the J12 Rétrograde Mystérieuse, whose completely innovative design was entrusted to Giulio Papi’s expert team of master watchmakers (APRP SA) at one of the most respected independent Haute Horlogerie manufactures in the world. This timepiece in high-resistance black or white ceramic and white gold - unique in every sense of the word - is defined as a compendium of innovations, complications and world firsts: a tourbillon, digital minutes display, retrograde minutes hand, a 10-day power reserve and a retractable vertical crown. Chanel, driven by the need to innovate, astonished the world with this level of creative watchmaking. Black and white, the two colors dear to Gabrielle Chanel, have been the two pillars of the J12 from the start. 

La J12 fête ses 20 ans, partie 1

J12-H2559 Marine and J12-H2557 Rétrograde Mystérieuse © Chanel



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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.

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