While most other brands have increased their collection of women’s watches, Chanel has gone in reverse; introducing Chanel’s first men’s watch, the Monsieur de Chanel. With their first aptly named Première women’s watch debuting in 1987, Chanel’s watch division is a relative newcomer compared Baselworld’s traditional stalwarts like Patek Philippe, Breguet and Blancpain.
When a brand known for feminine minimalist watches makes their first men’s watch: the Monsieur de Chanel is the result
The Monsieur de Chanel is the culmination of five years work. Chanel’s first men’s watch is the completely designed and manufactured in-house with some help with gear wheels from Romain Gauthier. The prominent women’s maison designed the manual-winding mechanical movement with typical Chanel minimalist aesthetics. Yet, subtle complexity belies its outward simplicity. The Calibre 1 driving the Monsieur de Chanel is a double complication consisting of 170 components, the most prominent being the watch’s 240-degree arc retrograde minute indicator, a work of immense effort rarely attempted by all but the most competent of veteran watchmaking brands. Combined with Instant Jumping hours, Chanel’s first men’s watch benefits from the maison’s deft mastery of space and stylistic element, the climax of which is a modern dress watch that is undeniably classic.
“Our competitors used to just produce ladies-style watches, meaning watches that are the same as the men’s but in a smaller size and with added diamonds,” – Nicolas Beau, International Watch Director, Chanel
In an interview with the New York Times, Nicolas Beau, Chanel’s international watch director, noted that the division’s core focus, the women’s luxury watch market, has enjoyed a good deal more attention in recent years from traditional watch companies.Before Basel 2016, Chanel was lauded for a series of refined hits like the Boyfriend, the Chanel Openwork Tourbillon and J12 Retrograde Mysterieuse Tourbillon. Rather than defining the competence of Chanel’s Watch Division by the traditional benchmark of heritage and provenance, the luxury house asks us to evaluate the Monsieur de Chanel with their first manufacture Calibre 1 movement on it’s own merits (and perhaps the strength of the superlative watches before The Monsieur). For The Millenary Post, the first timepiece to be created entirely at the company’s assembly plant in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland passes muster and then some.
That said, the Monsieur de Chanel is a pricey €31,000. It’s a price point which beggars weaker wallets to consider the myriad of more established names and watches with equivalent price tags. Traditionally, a newly designed in-house movement finds economies of scale when it’s used as base movement for other complications and so costs tend to be amortised. The Calibre 1 will only be used in the Monsieur de Chanel and will not be used in future haute horlogerie calibres. Thus, in that perspective, the high price point is reflective. That said, few would measure to the lustworthy symmetry and refined aesthetics of Chanel’s first men’s watch.
Eight watchmaking specialists in movement construction worked on the Monsieur de Chanel’s Calibre 1 and while the two technically challenging complications – jumping hour and retrograde minutes with slightly off centre small seconds took five years to develop, they were no doubt ably assisted by independent watchmaker Romain Gauthier. Chanel owns a small stake in the watchmaker of the Logical One; according to insiders, Chanel acquired some shares in the watchmaker in 2011 but only formally announced their ownership with the launch of the Monsieur de Chanel at Basel 2016.
Traditionally, Chanel’s women’s watches were design driven but the maison’s first men’s watch was designed from the technical perspective of the luxury brand’s first in-house movement. The effect is telling, from the alternating matte, brushed, and glossy black ADLC finishing to the prominent ruby positions and emotive balance wheel, the Calibre 1 is designed to impress and seduce from perspective architectural attractiveness.
For a watch of such technical nature, the brand conveys its DNA stylistically by placing the house emphasis on numbers (e.g. No.5 ) in artistic prominence to great effect thanks to the octagonal frame around the jumping hours reminiscent of Place Vendôme. Furthermore, the lion’s head adorning the crown and the movement is set to be the hallmark for future Chanel manufacture movements.
The Monsieur de Chanel is available in limited edition of 150 in beige gold at €31,500 and another 150 in white gold at €33,000. It will be available for sale in Chanel’s boutiques and online beginning June 2.