Chanel has been slowly but steadily building up its line of mechanical watches powered by high-end, in-house movements. Most notable is the Monsieur de Chanel jump hour, created with the help of respected independent watchmaker Romain Gauthier, who sold a minority stake in his company to Chanel several years ago.
Mr Gauthier also had a hand in last year’s Boy.Friend Skeleton, a top of the line variant of Chanel’s fashionable rectangular watch. Fancy mechanics are usually the preserve of men’s watches, but the Boy.Friend Skeleton boasts an impressively thoughtful, open-worked movement, the Calibre 3.
In fact, the design and details of the in-house movement show that it was conceived from the ground up with a particular aesthetic goal in mind. It’s the only way to create a skeleton movement that looks as coherent as this does.
The Calibre 3 has been constructed to incorporate a series of repeating, interlocking circles, a favourite motif of Chanel’s chief watch designer, Arnaud Chastaingt.
The motif starts with the bridges and base plate, which are all brass finish with a frosted surface coated in black amorphous diamond-like carbon (ADLC).
A telling indication of the attention to detail put into its construction lies in how the bridges are constructed. Instead of being a single piece machined to look like several intersecting circles, the bridges are separate pieces sitting on slightly different levels, enhancing the depth and detail of the movement.
All of the moving parts inside are also arranged to suit the movement design, with the going train laid out almost vertically, starting with the barrel at 12 o’clock. Energy flows downwards from the mainspring to the balance wheel at five o’clock.
Another carefully considered detail are the gears: all of the wheels, from those in the gear train to the keyless works, are solid instead of spoked. This enhances the clean, modern aesthetic of the movement, while accentuating the circular motif in the bridges.
While the movement finishing mostly machine-applied with the final touches done by hand, demonstrated by the clean and sharp lines, it is attractively and precisely done.
Bottle cap case
The Boy.Friend skeleton is a ladies’ watch, albeit a largish one. Inspired by the cap of the Chanel No. 9 perfume bottle, the oblong case is 37mm by 28.6mm. It’s made of 18k beige gold, a gold alloy unique to Chanel that’s a paler shade than standard yellow gold.
Because the movement was designed specifically for the case, no movement holder is needed. The base plate is screwed directly onto the inside face of the watch case with four screws.
Though the watch is doubtless large enough to pass as a watch for men, the Boy.Friend line is exclusively for ladies, so the skeleton wouldn’t pass muster as a men’s watch. That’s unfortunately, because it is executed to a degree that few men’s skeleton watches are.
In all tangible respects, the Boy.Friend Skeleton scores highly; the movement design and construction are both comparable to skeleton movements from mainstream, high horology brands. The only area where it falls short is branding, because Chanel is not a mainstream, high horology brand, though watches like this prove otherwise.
Material: 18k beige gold
Movement: Calibre 3
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Frequency: 28,800bph, or 4Hz
Power reserve: 55 hours
Strap: Alligator with 18k pin buckle
Price and availability
The Boy.Friend Skeleton large version in 18k beige gold (ref. H5254) is priced at US$40,600. And the same set with diamonds on the bezel (ref. H5255) is US$47,300. Both are available at Chanel boutiques and timepiece retailers.
Back to top.