One of the rare handful of modern watch designs that has become an icon and a runaway bestseller, the Chanel J12 marks its 20th anniversary with a revamp that is both subtle and substantial.
Its styling has undergone a discreet nip and tuck, while the movement is brand new and “manufacture”, coming from the movement maker in which Chanel recently acquired a stake.
The redesign was led by Arnaud Chastaingt, director of the Chanel Watch Creation Studio, and primarily centred on the dial. Though the case size remains unchanged at 38mm, the case is slightly thicker to accommodate the new movement. Crucially, the case is now entirely ceramic, instead of built with a steel case back.
And to match the new case, the links of the bracelet are slightly longer.
The dial opening was enlarged, giving it a larger face. In a nod towards functionality, the typeface used for the numerals has been slimmed down, and the inner railway track has been made more prominent. And on the versions with applied markers, the hour numerals are now in ceramic.
The notches in the bezel edge were increased from 30 to 40, while the height of the crown was cut by a third, both intended to give the J12 a more refined air.
Chanel 12.1 by Kenissi
The movement inside is the cal. 12.1 produced by Kenissi, a movement maker now in Geneva that will inaugurate a massive new production facility in Le Locle in 2021.
Chanel owns a 20% stake in Kenissi, with the rest being owned by Tudor and a Swiss-French group that produces components for the watch industry.
Consequently, the cal. 12.1 is actually derived from Tudor’s MT5600 family of movements. It is COSC-certified, runs at 4Hz and has a 70-hour power reserve. Like the Tudor MT5600 family, the 12.1 has a free-sprung balance secured by a distinctive balance curved bridge.
Black or white
As is tradition, the new J12 is available in black or white ceramic, with a matching bracelet. The case is 38mm in diameter, with a screw-down crown and 100m water-resistance rating.
Both models are available with the hour markers and hands in contrast colours, or in tone-on-tone colours to match the case as the J12 Phantom.
The J12 is also available in two high jewellery models. The first is a limited edition of 20 watches in 18k white gold, completely set with 19.27 carats of brilliant-cut diamonds, including on the oscillating weight of the movement.
And the second is a one-off pièce unique (ref. H6051), also in 18k white gold, but set with 44.26 carats of baguette-cut diamonds.
Price and availability
The new J12 will be available starting mid-2019, priced as follows in euros:
J12 Black or White (refs. H5697 and H5700) – €5300
J12 Black or White Phantom (refs. H6185 and H6186) – €5300
J12 Black or White with diamond hour markers (refs. H5702 and H5705) – €6500
J12 High Jewellery LE 20 (ref. H6159) – €280,000
J12 High Jeweller Unique Piece (ref. H6051) – €1.1m
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