chanel monsieur. lion editionJune 16, 2023
Chanel introduced the Monsieur Édition Noire in 2019, which was a steel and ceramic variant of the original gold Monsieur de Chanel from 2016. Featuring a jumping hour at 6 o’clock and retrograde minutes via an in-house caliber, it had a fantastic monochromatic design with strong horological presence. The latest Monsieur Marble Edition shares the same case and movement, but adds a striking, glossy black marble dial with white veining. The masculine vibe from the earlier piece remains and the new dial really adds to the overall aesthetic. Marble isn’t new to the industry as luxury brands like Rolex and Jaeger-LeCoultre have toyed with it, along with more affordable players like fossil that use marble-like substitutes. The black marble dial on the Monsieur Marble Edition is unique with its dark color as most are shades of white. It has an organic, almost gothic aesthetic that reminds me of a nighttime thunderstorm. It’s a perfect backdrop for the sophisticated dial elements that continue to impress after five years. A large jumping hour is recessed at 6 o’clock within an architectural frame with two exposed screws. Just above is a small seconds sub-dial that’s less recessed, followed by the large retrograde minutes. Unlike many retrograde indicators that arch at 180 degrees, this one is a full 240 degrees and it really enhances the look. The Arabic numerals also use a custom font designed specifically for the model. The marble base is actually three sections cut from a single piece, perfectly arranged to appear as a single, unbroken dial.
The 42mm case (10.85mm in height) is a combination of stainless steel and black ceramic, specifically a steel frame with external ceramic finishes. You can see narrow strips of steel between dark ceramic inlays on the sides, not unlike a ceramic insert within a steel diver’s bezel. The crown is signed with Chanel’s lion symbol in silver over black, and water resistance is rated at 30 meters. Powering the watch is the in-house Caliber 1, which impressively has both the jumping hour and retrograde minutes baked in – there isn’t an additional module on top. This is the brand’s first movement and beats at 4Hz (28,800vph) with a full three-day power reserve. It’s hand-wound and really displays well through the sapphire exhibition case back. Silver gears and screws contrast against matte black with a small scattering of jewels, and the balance has a star motif. The central circular bridge maintains a round theme and it’s an incredible first caliber from what’s usually thought of as a fashion brand. A matching black calfskin strap with an alligator pattern and triple folding steel buckle rounds things out.
Chanel pulled a surprising rabbit out of its chapeau in 2016 with the presentation of its first watch for men. Although the J12 has played it both ways for decades, and the Boyfriend has certain masculine traits, the Monsieur de Chanel marked two firsts for the brand: it was explicitly conceived for men, and it was the first to receive an in-house mechanical movement. Seven years later, this gorgeous new model with a flying tourbillon joins the sublimely elegant Monsieur de Chanel models with jumping hours and retrograde minutes. Housed in a black ceramic case with a meteorite dial, the tourbillon is ferociously guarded by Gabrielle Chanel’s mascot and powered by a manual-winding manufacture movement.