CHANEL continues to showcase its watchmaking prowess with the J12 33 mm, powered by Calibre 12.2
By The Time Place Magazine
When it comes to delivering unprecedented products, CHANEL certainly knows a thing or two about making a splash. In the year 2000, the distinguished Maison unveiled a revolutionary watch that changed the landscape of fine watchmaking. The brainchild of Jacques Hélleu, then artistic director of CHANEL, the J12 was the fruition of the designer’s vision of an unyielding timepiece, one that would stand the test of time. With a masculine and sporty aesthetic, the original J12 was crafted of highly resistant ceramic, the first time the material was used entirely to create a timepiece. Furthermore, the J12 was rendered in the deepest black hue and served as a tribute to the fine House of CHANEL as well as a symbol of strength and energy. Since its inception, the J12 has been offered in a variety of attractive iterations that uphold the very spirit of the line.
In 2022, more than 20 years later, CHANEL once again enriches the history of the J12 with the combination of a small model and an unprecedented movement. Available in a 33 mm size, which is perfect for more petite wrists, the J12 continues to pack a punch. Despite its less obtrusive size, the watch is powered by a true technical tour de force, the self-winding Calibre 12.2, which encapsulates the House’s watchmaking savoir-faire.
The New J12
When it comes to making comparisons, most people would say that a larger watch trumps a smaller one. However, that is just not the case with the new J12. With design features that take inspiration from its previous iterations, the 2022 version is definitely comparable to its predecessors. Now designed by Arnaud Chastaingt, Director of the CHANEL Watchmaking Creation Studio, the novel J12 pushes the boundaries of the Maison’s craftsmanship anew and paves the way for the longevity and continued relevance of the line. Two options of the three-hand J12 33 mm are available for CHANEL aficionados – one in black, the other in white.
Encased in black highly resistant ceramic and steel, the new J12 features a stealthy black lacquered dial complemented by white ceramic indicators. This beautiful contrast of black and white not only heightens the aesthetics of the timepiece, it also allows for easy reading of the time. Covering the dial is a steel and black-varnished sapphire crystal surrounded by a unidirectional rotating bezel, while a steel screw-down crown with a black highly resistant ceramic cabochon is located on the right side of the model. An ebony sheen is provided by the black highly resistant ceramic bracelet complete with a steel triple-folding buckle. Timeless and minimalist, yet with a certain sophistication all its own, the marriage of steel and black ceramic lends the J12 a mysteriously elegant appeal.
If the black version is any indication of CHANEL’s distinct knowhow in watch design, the white variation, on the other hand, surpasses all expectations. From dark to light, the white J12 is delivered in a 33 mm diameter and glimmers in its ivory neutrality. Enveloped in a white highly resistant ceramic and steel case, the timepiece is a mirror of the first model, albeit now in white. The unidirectional rotating bezel and the dial are homochromatic, as well as the white highly resistant ceramic cabochon of the steel screw-down crown.
Whereas the black version had white ceramic indicators to tell the time, this second model features black ceramic indicators on a pristine white dial. This contrast enables the wearer to conveniently view the time at a moment’s notice. Similarly, this ivory rendition has a matching highly resistant ceramic bracelet, with a glimmering polished finish, rounded out by a steel triple-folding buckle.
The choice of which hue is better definitely lies in the wearer. Someone with a more understated style could go for the more subdued black, which will no doubt go perfectly with an all-black outfit, while someone who loves the sublime absence of colour would adore the purity of white, whether worn with a monochromatic ensemble or a multi-coloured one. Whichever model you choose, you would definitely benefit from the Calibre 12.2 powering both watches from within.
Suffice to say, what we see when we look at the design of a watch is just a small part of what makes it truly desirable. There are many intricate processes that constitute the creation of a timepiece, and the aesthetics, or what we see, barely scratches the surface of watchmaking. That much can be said about the J12 33 mm. The front of the watch may provide it unparalleled appeal, but in reality, what the eyes don’t see usually matter more.
Upon turning the J12 33 mm over, a sapphire crystal case back provides the wearer with a view of what actually makes the timepiece click: its movement. The Calibre 12.2 is a new self-winding movement produced by the Swiss Manufacture Kenissi, proudly co-owned by CHANEL. Now a permanent feature for the model, the calibre is a testament to CHANEL’s dedication to quality fine watchmaking, “This is a choice that underlines the determination of CHANEL to equip its iconic watch with the finest of movements,” says Arnaud Chastaingt, Director of the CHANEL Watchmaking Creation Studio and designer of the new J12.
The creation of calibre 12.2 was certainly not a small feat; it took tremendous expertise on the part of CHANEL, as well as extensive research, development and deliberation. The process required miniaturised motorisation in which each component has been adjusted to ensure a unique performance. But that’s not all. “The Calibre 12.2 is more than just a miniaturisation of the Calibre 12.1. In order to achieve this feat, its 174 components have been completely redeveloped,” adds Chastaingt. As if creating a new movement wasn’t hard enough, CHANEL decided to harness what was good in the Calibre 12.1 and make them even better. This incredible effort testifies to the capability of the Maison to go beyond what is necessary. Never one to just do the bare minimum, CHANEL also ensures that the craftsmanship of the watch extends to the finishing of the movement that lies within.
Sometimes less is more, and CHANEL is one brand that believes in unpretentious sophistication. This ideal is carried out in the decoration of the Calibre 12.2, which is endowed with an oscillating mass in the form of a perfect circle, the signature of CHANEL Watchmaking. However, it’s not just the ornamentation that the Maison pays attention to but the precision and functionality of the mechanism. Undoubtedly, the Calibre 12.2 passed these areas of concern as it has been chronometer-certified by the COSC, the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute. Furthermore, the movement is equipped with a substantial power reserve of 50 hours.
With such a state-of-the-art movement beating as its heart, and water resistance of up to 200 metres, the black and white J12 33 mm are both wonderful and welcome additions to CHANEL’s current repertoire of watches. One can only guess what the Maison has in store for this much-coveted collection, however, one thing is for certain: the J12 continues to be a standard-bearer in the field of luxury watchmaking.
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