Chanel launches the MONSIEUR Watch as a “esprit manufacture”. 

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Baselworld is always a moment in the year in which watch brands reveal their very bests. It is a special moment that magnificence and luxury are at honnor. This year Chanel just launched their first “full in-house” watch, called MONSIEUR, that gathers the very best of Chanel. It is an amazing work, true state of art. The watch will be available only in June but here is already a full overview about it.

Chanel, the iconic brand always reinventing itself

One of the biggest richness for a luxury brand it is the heritage. If a brand has a strong history and it is used wisely, possibilities are endless. This is the case of Chanel, probably the ultimate luxury lifestyle brand that goes beyond its own category. Chanel was founded in 1910 by Coco Chanel and her “partner in crime” Pierre Wertheimer. After the creation of the fashion house, fragrances followed 10 years later with the launch of Chanel N.5 in 1921. In the following years the French luxury house launched different categories of products from handbags, jewelry, accessories or watches. Despite the fact that Chanel seems a very feminine brand, the philosophy of Coco Chanel has always played with this idea of crossing the lines. She used to “steal” male codes to apply them into women’s fashion. She was also a woman in love. Some of her love stories became iconic and we can say that men were a great inspiration. Today, Chanel continues its path of success. The company does more than €7.5 Bilion sales and has a strong presence worldwide.

Chanel and men, a story translated into lifestyle since 1955

Coco Chanel was a strong woman, dedicated to empower other women with her self-confidence and attitude. But she was also a woman in love. Men always counted for her and they were always present somehow through her unique way to create her brand. The word or designation MONSIEUR is part of the brand heritage and reflects a certain ideo of timeless elegance and respect.
So we can see that in this feminine story there was always a man’s presence. And this is how Chanel innovates today in watchmaking and launched MONSIEUR. Chanel has successfully extended its brand territory to challenging domains and watchmaking is definitely one of them.

Chanel watches, a love affair

The first big hit for Chanel in watches was definitely the launch of the J-12. This was an amazing and clever idea that brought a masculine watch fashionable for women.
Chanel J12 is a watch range made by Chanel that was launched in 1999. It contains Chanel’s first unisex watch and has a style that has become widely recognised with its clean lines and fusion of masculinity and femininity.
The range is known for its black and white high-tech ceramic watches worn by celebrities. The starting price is around $4’800 for the basic J12, while the more expensive watches, set with diamonds and precious stones, can cost up to $450’000.
In order to achieve the challenge of being a Fashion house that manufacture watches, Chanel wanted to work with the best people and this people should be in-house. In this sense, Chanel SA acquires the entire activity of G&F Châtelain SA, a watchmaker and manufacture based at La Chaud-de-Fond since 1947. The acquisition took place in 1993 and it helped Chanel to create amazing timepieces. What makes Chanel watchmaking uniqueness is a “je ne sais quoi” that nails it. It is all about freedom of execution, taking inspirations from men to build a strong feminine iconography and having the cult of timeless elegance and good taste. If you add a precise know-how and a true watchmaking philosophy you get beautiful timepieces. This year at Baselworld, Chanel made the luxury news headlines by launching MONSIEUR, a true watch for men. Despite the fact Chanel is a big company, the spirit of the new watch is more a “esprit manufacture”, meaning on the same spirit as independent watchmakers. The entire watch is manufactured in-house. Naturally Chanel will continue to collaborate with other watch prestigious houses on the regular watch lines. By keeping the MONSIEUR limited, it will please collectors and Chanel aficionados. Only 300 pieces will be produced, White Gold and Beige Gold. The recommended retail price is between €31’500 and €33’000.

Chanel MONSIEUR watch, what do we know so far?

With the launch of MONSIEUR, Chanel brought a special wind to Baselworld. Chanel is always a quite discreet brand that do not search for an outrageous buzz every time they have a product launch. This time the project was too big to get under the radar. With this new watch, Chanel brings a strong statement in watchmaking. The French luxury brand is launching a beautiful timepiece in the great tradition of watch-making. The men’s segment is the keystone of the watch market and the watch itself is showcasing the best Chanel can do thanks to the dedicated and expert in-house teams they have in La Chaux-de-Fond.
By calling the watch MONSIEUR, Chanel connects the future user with the heritage of the brand and the idealist vision of men by Mademoiselle Chanel. It reflects the image of a charismatic, seductive, highly elegant man attached to his roots but yet interested in a modern way of life. He believes in authenticity and likes beautiful things. That’s why the MONSIEUR watch is a clear match.
At Chanel, they like to tell stories and as a great story-teller, they always start from scratch. Each watch is unique and has its own movement so when 5 years ago the MONSIEUR project started, there was a blank paper sheet in front of the horloger.
The new in-house movement is called Calibre N.1. Chanel loves numbers and it is a new adventure starting. This new movement is only 4.4mm thick. Its 14 lines 3/4 offer a maximum visibility of all movement components. The black look creates a sort of 3D deepness that is increased by the skeleton work on the bridges. The contours remind us of the architectural shape of Chanel’s men suits. The brand aficionados will definitely fall in love. The Sapphire back-case is a beautiful window into the watch added-value, meaning the mechanics.
There is one exquisite detail still to be highlighted: the Caliber N.1 has a Lion head in terms of signature. The Lion was the preferred lucky-totem of Coco Chanel and from now on it will sign all in-house movements. In this specific watch we also find the lion head engraved in the watch crown and the strap buckle. When we ask Chanel how this project happened, they explain that first they manufactured the movement and its specificities. Then, they created the rest. This is a great celebration of Swiss watch making and provides all the credits to the watch movement. With its 2 barillets, the watch provides a 72 hours power reserve which is far more than the regular average for this kind of watch.
Another interesting aspect of this watch is the specific Chanel red gold, called “Beige gold”. The Chanel red gold has a light, soft-bright redemption that only Chanel has. It is a more subtle look than the standard red gold.
If we have a look now on the dial, we can see many interesting details. First of all this watch has a “heure sautante” meaning the hour indication is in the opening placed at 6 o’clock. The shape of the small window is the same shape as the Place Vendôme in Paris. Iconic. Then, the big minutes hand is retrograde and placed in a 240 degrees angle. It brings a lot of balance to the look and feel of the watch. The small seconds hand finish the overall structure of the time display in the dial.
Chanel is an amazing brand that will have the means of its ambition. By launching such a watch, they have completely embrace the true spirit of “manufacture”. With 300 units worldwide, we can bet that most of it is already pre-sold, so only for happy few. According to the brand they are already working on the next watches. Caliber N.2 and Caliber N.3 are already on progress.

Arsène Wargas

Info sourced at Chanel official communication at Baselworld, Chanel website, wikipedia, ABlogToWatch and LePoint. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. Images are for illustration purposes only. 

Arsene Wargas

Arsène is a young yet very passionate Parisian author. He is passionate about luxury watches and joined Luxury Activist team since 2015. While working in PR and marketing he loves to share his passion for luxury Swiss watch-making. He contributes in a regular base with articles around watch brands, history and new launches. Follow Arsène on his social networks.