Here’s the thing about Chanel’s alluring watch universe: design always comes first. And that is why for as long as I’ve written about timepieces, I’ve come to expect only the most stunning from the Parisian label. So exactly how “stunning” is the brand’s new J12 XS? I find out in Seoul.
1. It is unexpected.
When the J12 (Chanel’s first automatic watch) was launched in 2000, it exuded a surprisingly masculine feel. The brand’s late artistic director Jacques Helleu had these goals in mind for the J12: it had to look timeless, be indestructible and remind him of “masterpieces in the world of automobiles”. That’s all gone though with the new 19mm XS model, which is imbued, instead, with a cool, tough-girl appeal. There are four permanent boutique styles: Two – in black or white – are fitted with slim, patent-calfskin straps that are worn over matching matte-calfskin cuffs. The third is attached onto a pair of supple, lambskin gloves, while the fourth features a large, patent-calfskin cuff with a rock-music-inspired, multiple-row effect.
2. It is immaculately made.
The making of the J12 XS involved France’s most brilliant craftsmen: glovemakers from the House of Causse and couture embroiderers from Maison Lesage (the latter is also behind the most artistic dials of Chanel’s Mademoiselle Privé timepiece range). To make the new J12 XS line even more desirable, there are also six sequinned styles which are hand-embroidered by Maison Lesage to resemble the patterns found on exotic python, alligator and shark leather.
3. Its high jewellery versions aren’t overly ornate.
In fact, they are extremely wearable. There are four styles: One is fitted with a large, solid cuff (they are unlike the boutique-exclusive J12 XS watch cuffs, which are supple) while two come with smaller, solid cuffs – all three are decorated with diamond-set white gold trims. Finally, there is one that is set with 24 baguette-cut diamonds around a white gold flange, and includes a cheeky ring that tells the time.