“Created exclusively for women, 365 days of a year,” hailed Chanel during the launch of the J12-365 in 2014. Designed as an everyday watch, the stunner racked up lots of style points for its feminine allure. The two most distinguishable features were its size (a smaller and female-friendlier 36.5mm case instead of the 38mm original) and, more importantly, its colour (a pretty, never-seen-before hue imbued in the timepiece’s sleek gold accents). Chanel called those precious metals “beige gold”, an exclusive alloy it had developed to obtain a unique tone that’s girlier than yellow gold but subtler than rose gold.
The J12-365 was dubbed “fresh” by connoisseurs and the press, and Chanel would later extend the use of beige gold to its other watch models such as the Première, the Boyfriend and, most recently, the Monsieur.
When it comes to manufacturing special gold alloys, Chanel isn’t the only expert. A year before the high-tech ceramic and beige gold J12-365 tickers hit the market, Omega proudly showed its own alloy which was made entirely in-house, and inspired-by and named after Sedna, a red planet in the depths of the solar system. Infused with secret amounts of copper and palladium, the metal bore a beautiful, long-lasting rosy tint that recalled the colour of the celestial body. Incidentally, Hublot’s proprietary King Gold also bears a red hue that’s more intense than traditional red gold.
Gold, by nature, isn't a robust metal and in order to strengthen it, other materials had to be added. Hublot and Omega's top choice was ceramic.
Omega and Hublot didn’t stop there. The pair knew that gold, by nature, wasn’t a robust metal and in order to strengthen it, other materials had to be added. Their top choice was ceramic, a material so resilient it is used by Nasa to protect its space modules from burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere during re-entry. Ceragold and Magic Gold were the results. The former, by Omega, appeared on the iconic Seamaster as a ceramic bezel that’s seamlessly bonded with gold numerals through an ingenious eight-step process. The latter, used to create Hublot’s Big Bang Unico, is allegedly the world’s first scratch-resistant gold, according to the Swiss brand.
A number of horological records – from the next big grand complication to the thinnest calibre – are smashed every year by the world’s top watchmakers, but in an industry where “what’s next?” is the most important question, these brands prove that innovation can go beyond the mechanical parts of a luxury timepiece.