Traditionally regarded more as a luxury fashion brand, Chanel J12 Diamond Tourbillon has been getting serious about its watchmaking for some time now, especially since it unveiled the impressive Monsieur de Chanel in 2016. And the brand enhanced its haute horlogerie credentials even further at Watches & Wonders 2022 last week with the launch of its new J12 Diamond Tourbillon.
The striking new iteration of Chanel’s iconic timepiece features the brand’s first-ever in-house produced flying tourbillon movement, the Caliber 5, while also showing off the maison’s more widely known expertise in gem-setting and ceramic production.
Designed in Paris by Arnaud Chastaingt, Director of Chanel’s Watchmaking Creation Studio, the Caliber 5 was subsequently developed and assembled by the company’s Swiss movement manufacturing arm Châtelain in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
The Chanel J12 Diamond Tourbillon steals the show on the face of the 38mm watch, appearing through a circular cut-out in the black dial. While the outside of the tourbillon cage is set with 26 brilliant-cut diamonds with a large solitaire diamond decorating the center. Along with the ensemble of surrounding precious stones, the design of the complication produces a mesmerizing, sparkling spectacle as the tourbillon turns. The hour and minute hands above are also duly set with 22 brilliant-cut diamonds. Packing a 48-hour power reserve, the Caliber 5 is partially revealed dial-side, but more of its details can be appreciated through the display caseback. There, we see the movement bears the same circular bridge architecture and smart finishing that has come to characterize Chanel’s high horology pieces.
To kick off the use of Caliber 5 in its J12 collection, Chanel has launched the Chanel J12 Diamond Tourbillon in two 55-piece limited editions: Priced at €160,000, the first, with a glossy black ceramic case, has an 18K white gold bezel set with 34 baguette-cut diamonds and a white gold crown also set with a brilliant-cut diamond. Its integrated black ceramic bracelet features a white gold triple-folding buckle. It is not just the Caliber 5 that Chanel has been busy working on but also the new Caliber 12.2. This freshly developed automatic movement now offers a mechanical option for those seduced by the sporty charms of the J12 33mm, previously available only with a quartz movement.
Turning the watch over, we can see the new mechanism – chronometer-certified by COSC and packing a 50-hour power reserve – in all its glory through the display back. Again, circles are at play here, with the mainplate featuring a circular step and the rotor an annular cut-out. Polished and frosted finishes plus vertical and circular graining ensure the mechanism makes a strong visual statement.
The Caliber 12.2 was designed and developed exclusively for Chanel by Le Locle-based Kenissi, in which Chanel bought a 20 percent stake in 2019. Breitling and Tudor also have investments in this Swiss manufacture, which has garnered a solid reputation for making premier movements.