We have, for years, known that Chanel is capable of great things — the brand may predominantly be known for its fashion, but when it comes to watchmaking, Chanel is pretty serious too. The J12 made its debut in the year 2000, and for the past 20 years, it has stood as one of the icons of 21st century watchmaking. Imagined first in black ceramic, then in white in 2003, the J12 also housed many of Chanel’s horological achievements, from the calibre 3125 that was developed by Audemars Piguet Renaud et Papi, to its latest caliber 12.1 produced by Kenissi, a movement maker in Geneva in which Chanel owns a 20 per cent stake.
It’s crystal clear. Chanel is in league with the big boys now. And if its past achievements were not enough to convince you, well, the latest version of the J12 will change your mind.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the J12 has shed its colour codes of black and white ceramic. The new J12 X-Ray, as the name aptly conveys, is all about transparency. The watch is almost entirely created in transparent sapphire, from its case to its dial, even most of its movement. The new movement, Caliber 3.1, is a variation of Chanel’s own Calibre 3, an open-worked and hand-wound movement that was first introduced in the open-worked version of the Boy.Friend watch that was launched in 2018.
But now, obviously, it’s made in sapphire: the transparent plate and bridges almost disappear, giving the illusion that the gear train is suspended in mid-air. The dial is also cast in sapphire, surrounded by a baguette diamond-set bezel. The indicators are also baguette-cut diamonds, so the hour markers seemingly float in a perfect state of suspension.
But wait, we’re not done yet. The bracelet on the J12 X-Ray, we can safely say, is a world premiere. We’ve seen sapphire watches from other brands, but never have we seen sapphire used in such a way on the bracelet. The bracelet links on the J12 X-Ray are completely cut out of raw sapphires, exposing the metal hinges that hold them together. It’s as though someone had sculpted the J12 out of an ice block, and we can’t wait for the chance to glimpse it at Baselworld later this year.
Hand-wound caliber 3.1; made in sapphire; hours, minutes; power reserve of 50 hours
38mm; sapphire with a white gold bezel set with diamonds; water resistant to 30 metres
Sapphire with white gold buckle
Limited to 12 pieces