A Homage to Couture with the Chanel Automaton Musical Clock

An extraordinary haute horlogerie tribute to haute couture.

Unveiled at Watches & Wonders 2024, Chanel’s capsule collection for the year is Couture O’Clock that draws inspiration from the workshop of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel by referencing dressmaking tools. A homage to the brand’s dressmaking and tailoring, the lineup includes wristwatches and pendant watches, but the most captivating timekeeper is undoubtedly the Couture O’Clock Musical Clock, a unique piece that is table clock containing a music box and automaton. 

A three dimensional display under a glass dome, the clock is centred on five ceramic dressmaker mannequins that travel around the base like a carousel while a tune plays. Continuing with Chanel’s tradition of a clock each year, is clad in Chanel’s elegant colours of black, white, and gold, but lavishly constructed, with diamonds set on the chandelier, brooches and 245 pieces of onyx inlaid on the base.

Initial thoughts

Table clocks occupy a niche in timepiece collecting, yet are incredibly diverse and range from the hyper mechanical to the whimsical. Chanel’s Musical Clock is paradoxically all at the same time – impressively in its mechanics, incredibly extravagant in execution, yet lighthearted in theme.

Like the brand’s past table clocks – most just as impressive and expensive – the Musical Clock is an apt homage to the Chanel. But unlike its predecessors, the Musical Clock is a more straightforward embodiment of the brand’s best-known line of business. It is also more feminine than Chanel’s earlier clocks, yet according to the brand, the buyer of the clock, which sold by first day of the fair, was a gentleman.

As a one-off object with a price tag of well over €2 million, the Musical Clock doesn’t need a wide audience. Yet it illustrates a broader concept: Chanel’s admirable ability to transform and sculpt the many motifs and themes associated with the brand, most of which are from fashion, into striking mechanical timekeepers.

Haute couture meets haute horlogerie

According to Chanel, the domed clock was conceived to capture the atmosphere of Coco Chanel’s Parisian workshop located on Rue Cambon, now the also location of the brand’s flagship boutique. The clock does that both tangibly as well as acoustically – inside is a musical box that plays My Woman by Al Bowlly, a melody that was reputedly a favourite of the brand’s founder.

The visual focus of the clock is the carousel of dancing mannequins, also known as Stockmans after their most famous maker. When activated, the carousel begins rotating on the base, with each Stockman rotating on its own axis while sliding up and down, with the musical box playing at the same time.

And the time, if it matters, is displayed on a 24-hour scale on the base of the clock that resembles a tailor’s tape measure. Made of aluminium ceramic, the time scale is read against a pointer made up of a pearl and baguette-cut diamond, both set in 18k gold.

All of that is wound by a solid, 18k gold key set with diamonds that is delivered on a matching diamond-set gold chain, allowing it to be worn as a pendant. Together, the key and chain are set with over 350 diamonds totally some 14 carats.

The mechanics that drive the clock are the work of Reuge, the Swiss producer of music boxes now owned by De Bethune that was also responsible for the MB&F Music Machine

Contained within the base are is clockwork and music box, both made and assembled by hand. The music box relies on a traditional cylinder set with pins – each pin is set by hand – that rotates against a finely toothed comb to create the melody. 

Measuring 19.8 cm by 34.2 cm, the clock certainly makes a statement on a desk. 

The base is set 242 pieces of onyx to create a quilted pattern reminiscent of Chanel’s leather goods. Above is a glass dome that contains the five mannequins made of aluminium ceramic, each wearing an 18k yellow gold brooch set with diamonds. Each mannequin is mounted on a black-coated steel tripod that is also decorated with diamond-set gold rings.  

Above the mannequins is a chandelier bearing pear-cut diamonds, which is in turn suspended from a large faceted onyx stone set in 18k gold on the top of the glass dome. 

Key facts and price

Chanel Couture O’Clock Musical Clock
Ref. H9964

Dimensions: 19.8 cm by 34.2 cm
Material: Glass dome with onyx marquetry base, 18k yellow gold and diamonds; mannequins in natural aluminium ceramic with leather ribbons and diamond on black-coated steel tripod; chandelier in black-coated 18K yellow gold with diamond-set 18k yellow gold candlesticks; ribbon in natural aluminium ceramic; and a time indicator in 18K yellow gold with pearl and diamond

Movement: Developed by Reuge
Functions: Hours and minutes
Winding: Manual-winding
Power reserve: 7 days

Limited edition: Piece unique
Availability: Already sold
Price: 2.6 million

For more, visit Chanel.com.


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