Chanel J12 celebrates its 20th anniversary, part 2
Retrospective of this successful watch, from 2011 to 2020.
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.
Yet in 2011, the J12 takes the stage in titanium ceramic that is more lively than gold and more intense than platinum. Born in this completely unique material that transforms light into an array of vibrant rays of light, the Chromatic color propels the watch into another dimension. The J12 Chromatic dreams of becoming a watch of reflections, a mirror of an always changing time that only Chanel can capture.
J12-H2934-Chromatic-41mm © Chanel
2013 and the J12 is looking towards the stars. It wants to fly to the Moon. Chanel’s Swiss Manufacture at la Chaux-de-Fonds cannot deny its desire and embarks on this new journey. The J12 Moonphase is born with its mechanism displaying the different moon phases on a deep blue aventurine disc that glitters like a summer night. Feminine, elegant, different.
J12-H3404-Moonphase © Chanel
The following year, the J12 wants to dance, fly and dream. A flying tourbillon in the form of a comet? Yes, but fully set in diamonds, it feels like in a dream. This J12 is pure madness. Its movement is designed exclusively by Renaud & Papi (APRP SA). Bis repetita in 2015 with a J12 Skeleton Flying Tourbillon, designed once again by the experts at Renaud & Papi (APRP SA). The J12 wants to reveal all: its body, mind, and its soul. As though it never really had anything to hide. 2014, with the J12-G10 watch, Chanel takes an adventurous turn to feminine watchmaking by adapting an essential from the military world, the NATO bracelet. Like a secret code, the J12-G10 thus chooses a new identity by borrowing its name from this legendary military bracelet as well as replacing its large-scale alligator leather with nylon and the loops are set with brilliant or baguette cut diamonds. Resolutely modern, this bracelet blurs the lines and feminizes without losing its robustness and comfort, while offering a luxurious allure.
J12 Tourbillon Volant et J12 G10 © Chanel
Go where you are least expected to be. Always be the first, but remember your roots. The J12 knows the rules, it dictates them. In 2016, discreet and silently curling around the wrist, the watch takes shape in a miniature 19-mm version, the J12∙XS. Designed by Arnaud Chastaingt - now in charge of the CHANEL Watchmaking Creation Studio - it features a classic ceramic bracelet or a cuff. A sheer beauty in itself. Another J12? Well no. Just always the J12: its dial is sometimes featured on a ring, in the fold of a glove, on a cuff, a large-size bracelet or it may also be found adorned with diamonds or Lesage embroideries, as if it were reimagining the fashion it has always loved. XSively feminine, surprising, paradoxical, sophisticated, contradictory, strong, unexpected, assumed, powerful, precious, determined and excessively excessive!
J12-XS Manchette Petit Modèle et J12-XS Manchette Lesage Noire © Chanel
2017, a silhouette in the form of a hat, pumps and a braided suit spreading her arms on the dial to indicate the time. The J12 showcases Mademoiselle Chanel: playful, cheeky and joyful.
J12 Mademoiselle © Chanel
2018, Chanel presents a set of 12 one-of-a-kind watches, each decorated with an abstract composition produced in ceramic marquetry. The 12 pieces together form a polyptych, showcasing a graphic design by the Chanel Watchmaking Creation Studio. The J12 Untitled is a watch of its time, like never before.
J12 Untiltled - Set of 12 unique pieces © Chanel
2019, Arnaud Chastaingt, Director of the Chanel Watchmaking Creation Studio, gives the J12 a makeover without really touching the identity that created its legend and success. At the dawn of its 20th anniversary, the J12 wants to grow without losing any of its audacity. To be rejuvenated without abrading the identity that made all its successes. Its bezel is refined to open up the dial, the number of notches on the bezel is increased, the typography of its numerals is redesigned, the width of its crown reduced and the thickness of its case is ever so slightly increased. The silhouette of the J12 is transformed. Neither quite the same, nor quite another. Its profile is softened, its silhouette is stronger. This is the new J12, delicately redesigned by Arnaud Chastaingt. Its dress changes. Its heart too. The J12 now has a one-piece ceramic case equipped with a sapphire crystal so the new 12.1 caliber movement can be seen to be admired. The caliber 12.1 is exclusively designed and developed by KENISSI, a high performance Swiss Manufacture in which Chanel owns a stake. Chanel received an award the same year for the J12 caliber 12.1 watch, during the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) ceremony, in the Ladies’ category.
J12 Edition Noire © Chanel
The J12 is 20 years old. And it doesn't show. The new J12 speaks of modern classicism. Bezel, dial, and hands in intense black, Mademoiselle’s favorite color. The Édition Noire takes stage. Now already in 2020. In a sleight of hand which only this watch holds all the secrets, the J12 Paradoxe creates a new boundary by combining light and mystery - day and night. Its unique aesthetic is the result of a highly technical feat accomplished by cutting and fusing two ceramic cases of different dimensions - one white and the other black. Assembled together, they form one casing.
Continuing in 2020, the watch goes even further. Without forgetting its past, the J12 frees itself from the colour codes that have always been its triumph. It abolishes black, transcends white and goes beyond colour by choosing transparency. The new J12 X-RAY watch displays its watchmaking mastery in a unique sapphire crystal case that allows us to admire the incandescent purity of its forms. With a new movement that has been designed and assembled by the Chanel Manufacture– the Caliber 3.1 – the J12 X-RAY is all about transparency. The plate, timer bridge and cog bridge are made of sapphire crystal. They fade away to let the light in, revealing a delicately embroidered latticework of cogs. The assembly of the movement requires all the master watchmakers’ expertise, delicacy and patience. An operation that lasted a full week. The dial is also cast in sapphire crystal and set with baguette-cut diamond indicators, giving the illusion of 12 diamonds perfectly balanced in a state of suspension. For the first time in history, a watch is created with a strap composed of links cut from raw sapphires. As a limited edition of just 12 pieces, the J12 X-RAY watch initiates a new era in the history of colour.
J12-20 et J12 X-RAY © Chanel
For its 20th anniversary, the J12 wants to play. It takes twenty symbols and references from the Maison Chanel: a 2.55 bag, a camellia, a bottle of N°5 perfume and even a tweed jacket. It becomes the J12∙20. Punctuated with 12 diamonds, these polished rhodium-plated motifs are found on its bezel and dial. Sublime irreverence to sign the absolute freedom of this edition, limited to 2020 pieces, and also available in an Haute Horlogerie enameled version, numbered and limited to 5 pieces.
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 >
All the news >
Contact brand >
All the watches >