The Monsieur de Chanel, or, Why is Chanel Making a Men’s Watch?

The title is a trick question, actually. Chanel has been making men’s watches for quite some time now. That is, unless you see such imaginative and strong pieces as the J12 Flying Tourbillon, the Rétrograde Mystérieuse Tourbillon and the boldly styled J12 Chromatic 41mm as the exclusive domain of feminine wrists.

When Chanel say that they are creating a men’s collection, what this really means is a collection that is cleaner and smoother in style with a higher focus on mechanics. A more masculine watch, to be sure, but as mentioned before, Chanel’s entire family of watches has always held watches that display exceptional gender versatility.

The Monsieur de Chanel, launched last week at Baselworld 2016, has as its first model a jumping hour with retrograde minutes and running small seconds, in a 40mm gold case. Its double-barrel hand-wound movement is treated with an anthracite finish, while its openworked bridges are modern and simple in the same way that we saw in the highly geometric movement of the J12 Skeleton Flying Tourbillon.

Although the Monsieur de Chanel doesn’t draw from the same overtly feminine pool of emblems that characterise its siblings — the camellia, Gabrielle Chanel’s personal design affinities, Oriental metiers d’art — its aesthetic outlook is still strongly rooted within the heritage of the maison.

The retrograde minutes are indicated across a three-quarter arc that is interrupted by the hour guichet, shaped to recall the case of the Première watch, which is in itself an acknowlegment of the iconic perfume bottle stopper of Chanel.

The numerals, whilst wholly new in the design vernacular of Chanel watches, are simple and strictly linear, with overall proportions similar to the ratios of the Chanel logo. Decorating the crown is not the Chanel double-C but a lion’s head, which will also seal the in-house movements of Chanel.

Because, yes, the Chanel Calibre 1 powering the Monsieur Heures Sautantes is a movement developed by Chanel Haute Horlogerie, a division we’ve been anticipating since the company acquired part of the independent artisanal high-watchmaking outfit Romain Gauthier.

The Monsieur de Chanel will be produced in a limited edition of 300 (150 in white gold and 150 in beige gold — a proprietary material introduced by Chanel into its watch collection a couple of years ago).