Chanel is really expanding their watchmaking know-how, and rapidly too. Just mere months after announcing it had bought a minority stake in Geneva watch brand F.P. Journe, Chanel today announced it has taken a stake in Kenissi, a new Swiss manufacturer of automatic movements. In fact, the privately owned fashion house had acquired the 20 per cent holding in Kenissi before it bought a stake in F.P. Journe but didn’t choose to announce the news until now. But who is Kenissi?

Chanel says little about its latest partner in its news release, instead, choosing to take the opportunity to remind us that they purchased the G&F Châtelain Manufacture in 1993. Located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the manufacture creates high-quality casings and movements and was once owned by the Châtelain family, who has been involved in watchmaking since 1936. Today, the company specialises in making ceramic watch cases, as well as produces and finishes watches for Chanel and Bell & Ross.

Chanel has acquired a stake in new manufacture Kenissi
Chanel has acquired a stake in new manufacture Kenissi (Credit: Kevin Cureau)

Who is Kenissi?

What do we know about this new manufacture? Not a lot at this point. The Swiss newspaper Le Temps reports that Kenissi is the industrial arm of Tudor. Kenissi is currently based in Geneva, but will soon move to a new building in Le Locle in 2021. The new building is being built by the Rolex Group and will be divided into two parts, one for Tudor and one for Kenissi. This move by Chanel and Rolex is a critical one and brings two of the biggest independent and most important actors in luxury closer than ever before.

Not much is publicly known of Kenissi’s founder at the moment, only that the owner is an industrial supplier of sapphire glass to some of the biggest watchmaking groups. Le Temps also names Jean-Paul Girardin as the incoming person in charge for the new Le Locle factory although this hasn’t been confirmed elsewhere.

This news might not come as a complete surprise for those who know the Kenissi manufacture, since Breitling and Tudor have been sharing some movements for a number of years now. Come Baselworld in March 2019 we will hopefully learn more about this exciting development and lay eyes on a brand new Chanel creation with an automatic movement by Kenissi.

The Chanel Code Coco in ceramic
The Chanel Code Coco in ceramic (Credit: Kevin Cureau)