Chanel’s J12, since it was launched in 2000, has been a staple, and an icon in the realm of watches formed fully in ceramic.
First formed in black ceramic and then, three years down the road, in white. Its lustre in its dark incarnation and its brilliance in white, have come to become identifying features that make the J12 impressively easy to spot even from a distance.

The man who gave the J12 its initial identity in 2002, was a gentleman by the name of Jacques Helleu. Given the recognisability and familiarly that the world has with the J12, it took Chanel 19 years before a conversation could be had about updating design elements of the timepiece.

This mammoth task was entrusted into the hands of Arnaud Chastaingt, head of the Chanel Watchmaking Creation Studio, who took on the role after a decade-long stint at Cartier.

Chastaingt describes the J12 as a “muse” and the redesign a task he wanted to take on to change everything without changing anything; an evolution, not a revolution.

True to his words, looking at the 2019 incarnation of the J12 requires a keen eye to be able to spot the subtle updates, with its case made by Chanel subsidiary G&F Chatelain. The sure way to tell the difference between the old and the new is by turning the watch over to reveal that 2019’s J12 has a ceramic caseback, replacing the former’s steel back.
Of course, there’s also the stylised new Calibre 12.1 fitted into the watch, which is produced by Kenissi, a movement manufacture that Chanel has shares in, alongside Tudor.

In 2020, as the J12 marks its 20th anniversary, the watch has taken its most radical leap yet, with the all-new J12 Paradoxe.

Chanel J12 Paradoxe
Chanel J12 Paradoxe
The making of Chanel J12 Paradoxe
The making of Chanel J12 Paradoxe

The J12 Paradoxe has a case that is mostly white ceramic and then, a portion of it is in black ceramic. Looking at it from up top, the effect of it is really baffling. How has Chanel managed to fuse two different ceramic parts, and in different colors, into one unquestionable form?

The effect of it is only lost once you have the watch turned over, this is when the seam of the two parts come to light.

How the parts are made, is that a complete case is made in white first and then has the right side of it cut off from the right lug onwards. Next a complete case in formed in black, which is then cut and used as a donor for the earlier white case. The two parts are then screwed onto a steel inner brace and therein, held together.

Chanel J12 Paradoxe

Sounds quite wasteful if you think about. But thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. Because there is an alternate version of the J12 Paradoxe, which uses the earlier remaining portion of the black case with the rest of the case formed in white gold. Thus, we have the Paradoxe Diamonds.

Chanel J12 Paradoxe Diamonds
Chanel J12 Paradoxe Diamonds

Diamonds because Chanel has adorned the white gold portion of the watch in this instance with 40 baguette-cut diamonds (~2.22 carats) and its bezel set with 26 baguette-cut diamonds. The watch’s crown too is set with a brilliant-cut diamond, while the dial itself is with 21 baguette-cut diamonds, which make up part of the dial and the hour markers.

The Paradoxe Diamonds will be produced in a limited run of just 20 pieces, no doubt, in line with the J12’s 20th anniversary.

J12 Paradoxe

Technical Specifications

Movement

Self-winding Caliber 12.1; hours, minutes, running seconds; date; chronometer-certified by COSC; approximate 70-hour power reserve

Case

38mm white and black highly resistant ceramic and steel case; steel fixed bezel; steel screw-down crown with black highly resistant ceramic cabochon; white and black-lacquered dial; water-resistant to 50 meters

Bracelet

White highly resistant ceramic bracelet with steel triple-folding buckle.

Chanel J12 Paradoxe
Chanel J12 Paradoxe
Paradoxe Diamonds

Technical Specifications

Movement

Self-winding Caliber 12.1; hours, minutes, running seconds; date; chronometer-certified by COSC; approximate 70-hour power reserve

Case

38mm black highly resistant ceramic and 18K white gold case, bezel and dial; case set with 40 baguette-cut diamonds (~2.22 carats); bezel set with 26 baguette-cut diamonds (~1.74 carat); 18K white gold crown set with one brilliant-cut diamond (~ 0.14 carat); dial set with 21 baguette-cut diamonds (~0.44 carat); water-resistant to 50m

Bracelet

Black highly resistant ceramic bracelet with 18K white gold triple-folding buckle.

Limited edition of 20 pieces

Chanel J12 Paradoxe Diamonds
Chanel J12 Paradoxe Diamonds