Chanel J12 ParadoxeMay 4, 2023
Chanel has just released a new asymmetrical version of its popular Chanel J12 watch. Taking the need to choose between Chanel’s black or white ceramic versions out of the equation, the watch splits down from the two o’clock to four o’clock positions of the watch.
The colors are taken from two separate ceramic watch cases rather than made as one. The reason for this is that the two materials could come apart or join unevenly during the heating process. And so, two cases are cut with a fine tool and fixed together.
While the case is made from two pieces, both the dial and bezel are made as one single unit. Due to the joining of two solids for the case, water-resistance has been brought down from 200 meters to just 50 meters. The J12 Paradoxe features the same COSC-certified Cal. 12.1 movements seen in the new J12s, boasting 70 hours of power reserve, and 28 jewels.
Chanel J12 watch debuted in 2000. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the collection, and the J12 Paradoxe was released for this season. We were able to get our hands on one and spend some time with the watch. Let’s start by covering the basics. As you can see, the J12 Paradoxe features a bicolor look, combining white and black. The remarkable thing here is that, although the clean-cut borderline may suggest the two-tone color scheme is just a paint job, the watch is actually constructed with two colored ceramic case components.
The production process of the case is truly unique. Two single-colored complete cases are cut, then combined to make the final case. You’d think they could get away with making two different pre-shaped case components in white and black to assemble, but ceramic shrinks with heat (and the material hardens as it shrinks), so that’s a no-go. I believe this was the reason why the “make two cases, then cut and combine” method was chosen, but you’d have to cut them without losing the material on the cutting plane by using an extremely thin blade in order to create the final case with fixed dimensions. And we are talking about super hard ceramic here, so I think you can easily imagine how difficult it can be to execute the cutting procedure without damaging the material. As you can see in the picture above, the watch is made of two pieces of ceramic case components, and a sapphire crystal display caseback is secured to them with screws. Due to this special construction, I can safely assume it was a little too hard to achieve the same level of water resistance as the regular J12s. As a result, this watch is water-resistant to 50m where other J12 models are rated for 200m.
On the other hand, the J12 Paradoxe shares the same Cal. 12.1 movement with the rest of J12 models. There has been coverage of this attractive movement already, but let’s dig into it a little just in case you are not familiar with the caliber.
The Cal. 12.1 automatic movement debuted in conjunction with the Chanel J12 watch refresh back in 2019, and it is produced by Kenissi. Kenissi is a movement manufacturer founded by Rolex’s sister company Tudor and other investors, including Chanel. Kenissi movements are now taking the watch industry by storm. In addition to Chanel and Tudor, other brands, like Breitling and Norqain, are now using the Kenissi movements, and their specs rival the top-tier calibers out there. The standard three-hand automatic movement is Kenissi’s bread-and-butter offering. It features a 70-hour power reserve and a high-precision yet robust design with a free-sprung balance and full-balance bridge. Chanel’s Cal. 12.1 shares the feature-set. The asymmetric style of the J12 Paradoxe features black only on the right side of the case. That is, of course, quite visible from the front, but the side view of the watch is even more interesting. When you see the case from the three o’clock side and nine o’clock side, you are basically looking at conventional black and white J12 models, respectively. A paradox is a statement contrary to common belief, something that seems hard to comprehend or absurd, but is actually well-founded and not contradictory. This Chanel J12 watch is a black J12 and also a white J12 at the same time — a paradox indeed.
Now, one thing that really surprised me was how natural this bi-color setup looked. Since the watch is made of two ceramic cases that are cut and combined, I thought I’d see the joint rather clearly. But in reality, as far as I could see from the dial side, the watch totally looked as if it was a seamless single-piece unit constructed with a two-tone color scheme, and there was a reason for that. In fact, the cut-and-combined construction is only for the case, and the bezel and dial are each made as a single piece, and the bi-color design is achieved by applying white color on black for the bezel and black on white for the dial.