A New Milestone
Chanel has entered the watchmaking big leagues thanks to a fine new timepiece made for men five years and a team of eight specialists were required to design this watch. Nicolas Beau, CEO of Chanel’s watch division, is proud and passionate as he introduces us to this new gem, simply known as Monsieur.
By Stéphane Le Duc
Does Monsieur mark a new milestone for Chanel Fine Watchmaking?
This is our very first dedicated men's watch. As well, Monsieur contains our first watch movement made completely in-house. For 30 years, our watch-making activity has involved the manufacture of cases and straps and the setting of gems; the movement has always been the missing element, and we now possess this know-how. Among watchmakers, the creation of movements is a fundamental expertise, and the most respected one, for it is the most complex, and requires abundant modesty, humility and time.
I was stunned to discover that it took five years to design and produce Monsieur.
First, we put together a team. Although Chanel already employs highly qualified watchmakers, there were some fundamental skills we needed to master before moving forward with design and manufacture. We quickly focused on the watch movement, because that is one of the first challenges to arise when creating a watch. We chose to go with a jumping hour, because numbers are so very symbolic for Chanel. They're like lucky charms, really: 5, 12, 18, 19. So it seemed obvious to express the hour through numerals. The retrograde minute display was a suitable complement, and making the minute jump at the same time as the hour struck us as a great idea. After this was agreed upon, there came the usual development process for a high-complication movement: the ideation phase, the prototype phase, and the testing phase—because a million little problems can and do unexpectedly crop up. And then, the finalization phase. We designed absolutely all of the components, which almost never happens. And we started, quite literally, from a blank page.
The watch case is remarkably sober. Is there any particular reason for this?
It's the result of Chanel's esthetic quest for a contemporary movement. If the round case is so simple, it's precisely because its primary function is to showcase the movement. All the components are revealed through the transparent back cover, and a number of concepts were developed to enhance them. For starters, the bridges are circular and they are almost mistaken for gears. Secondly, black tones are used in a variety of finishes—glossy, satin, matte—to create more contrasts in light and shade, and particularly to make the wheel spokes stand out. Thirdly, we took a page out of the haute couture handbook by surrounding each component in black, to better delineate it.
Monsieur also features a couple of recurring Chanel motifs.
The octagonal shape of Place Vendôme frames the hour aperture, and also appears on the buckle. Meanwhile, the lion—a powerful, masculine symbol—leaves its imprint on the buckle and the crown, and is also the new seal for Chanel manufacture movements. Though quite complex, the watch is deceptively simple in appearance, in keeping with our philosophy of fostering beauty, simplicity and style.
MONSIEUR DE CHANEL
Limited edition to 100 pieces.
Diametre 40mm. Thickness 10 mm.
Black grand feu enamel dial with a retrograde minutes counter, a jumping hour window and a small seconds counter.
Rhodium plated hands.
Black alligator strap.
CALIBRE 1. Jumping-hour: manual-winding mechanical movement with two integrated complications : instant juming hour and 240° retrograde minute.
Fonctions: hours, minutes, small seconds.
3-day power reserve.
Water resistance: 30 meters.
Platinum weight: 65g.