Eighteen years on and Chanel’s J12 remains one of the brand’s most beloved timepieces—with good reason.
Inspired by the world of sailing, and designed by the late legendary Jacques Helleu, Chanel’s beloved J12 timepiece made big waves when it was first launched in 2000. For one, it was a watch that the world had never seen before, with looks that blurred aesthetic and gender lines to claim loyal fans from both sides of the fence. Its novel way of using ceramic also inspired a whole generation of watches to follow in its wake, spurring a ceramic revolution in the industry that saw Chanel remain unchallenged at the head of the charge.
In the years that followed, Chanel amplified the range with a host of notable J12 editions that showed it in good horology stead. From chronographs and GMTs, to diving watches, tourbillons and haute joaillerie creations, the collection was fleshed out with timepiece functions expected of any respectable watch House; not to mention the haute horlogerie J12 TRM (thanks to a collaboration with AP Renaud et Papi) with a push button crown found at the top of the dial instead of its usual case-side perch.
Eighteen years and many editions later, Chanel has remained resolute in its conviction of the J12’s raison d’etre: To be a blank canvas on which to showcase the House’s codes, visions and conceptual ideas; best summed up by something Chanel’s Global Head of Watches and Fine Jewellery Business Development, Nicolas Beau, once told me: “At Chanel, it’s not about ‘why’ but ‘why not’.”
Fast forward to this year and Chanel returns with yet another world-first for its emblematic timepiece: The J12 Untitled, in a 12-piece unique set of limited editions, with ceramic marquetry—separated by thin threads of gold in between—on its dial and bezel. (While that collection has been completely sold out, fans can still look forward to the 1,200 limited edition J12 Untitled with lacquer and rhodium-plated dial decor.) In other words, what you get is yet another graphic, design-forward timepiece that will convert you to Chanel’s ‘why not’ school of thought.
Clockwise from top left: Steel and ceramic J12 Untitled, $8,100, Chanel. Working on the pièce unique watch’s ceramic marquetry dial. Thin gold wires separate the ceramic marquetry elements. The watch’s ceramic marquetry extends to its bezel. Setting the diamond in its crown. Steel and ceramic J12 Untitled, $8,100, Chanel. Fixing the bezel onto the watch. Preparing the mold for the ceramic