The Chanel J12 X-Ray In Pink Sapphire

April 29, 2024 By mysun08481 Off

Chanel is in a league of its own when it comes to brand recognition across Ready-To-Wear, beauty, watches, and jewelry. The design language and incorporation of Gabrielle “Coco’s” codes stand strong across all of the aforementioned categories. These key visual pillars that “Coco” created for the brand: the little black dress, the quilted bag, the tweed suit, two-tone shoes, camellias, pearls, and Chanel No. 5 perfume, have been repackaged, repurposed, and reframed into a modern context by each individual creative director appointed at the helm of a category.

Watches at Chanel began with Jacques Hélleu (and the launch of the Première) in 1987. It has since morphed into a vast segment for the brand, with the J12 remaining firmly at the core of Chanel’s watchmaking universe. Perhaps less ubiquitous than it was in the early aughts, the J12 is easily just as recognizable a full 24 years since its inception. The (mostly) ceramic timepiece has become enough of a code in its own right that the Director of the Chanel Watchmaking Creation Studio, Arnaud Chastaingt, is willing to use the J12 as a classic Chanel canvas for his futuristic twists. There is a clear paradox between Chanel’s ability as a brand to escape trends through a timelessness of style and Chastaingt’s clear desire to be anchored in the present – not unlike the late Karl Lagerfeld, who executed a transformational shift in fashion by revamping a (then) venerable fashion house into one of the most relevant and spoken about brands in the history of contemporary fashion.

The chanel classic black and white J12 was refreshed by Chastaingt in 2019. Since then it has morphed into various colors, shapes and materials. The latest remix on a classic is the newly released (and limited to 12 pieces) 38mm J12 X-Ray In pink sapphire. It’s a translucent pink openwork watch set with pink sapphires around the bezel with pink sapphire indices. The case is made of beige gold, a pinkish hue that is lighter than yellow gold, and a little less pink than rose and pink sapphire crystal.

Transparency has always functioned as a futuristic motif – a “modern” stylistic decision present across tech, design, and architecture. As if seeing the inner workings of something will somehow transport us to the future. On the surface, it’s a retro-futuristic, cartoonish (see: The Jetsons) worldview of modernity in design. However, in this particular instance, I see it as an intentional choice to remain ahead of the material curve – something chanel classic black and white J12 has always done in watchmaking. Let’s not forget that the J12 was one of the first commercially available ceramic watches. Technically speaking, we could call openwork watches “transparent,” but a watch with a transparent dial, case, and bracelet goes beyond traditional techniques to “show off the mechanical goods.” The sapphire exists as a sort of rose-colored carrying case. The watch and the sapphires look as if they are floating in a wash of pink crystal. It’s a serious watch with a far less serious attitude.

I have a weird fascination with technicolor sapphire novelties. RM, Hublot, and Chanel watches push the boundaries of definition. Is it a watch? Or is it spiritually closer to a wearable piece of contemporary art? Will these sapphire watches age well? Or are they simply a product of traditional design fatigue?

While Chastaingt insists that “technicality is at the service of creation” the watch still maintains mechanical integrity courtesy of chanel classic black and white J12 Calibre 3.1. An in-house manual-winding movement with the timer bridge, the plate and the gear-train bridge especially produced in crystal sapphire. The watch has a 55-hour power reserve and 30 meters of water resistance.

If we take a step back for some bigger picture analysis we can’t help but wonder where Chanel stands in a post Karl Lagerfeld world. There are three main categories within the brand and all with their own creative directors. However, each division (clothing, beauty, watches, and jewelry) is interconnected through identical branding, shared ambassadors, and a client base who will often shop and invest across all three categories. It’s a fully integrated brand ecosystem. Where it seems like less innovation is happening by way of Virginie Viard in the brand’s Ready-to-Wear collections, Chastaingt is clearly taking risks and bringing us along for his watchmaking Odyssey. Call the J12 a ceramic submariner if you must, but Chanel’s trademark watch remains a classic canvas for a brand that is clearly taking risks in watch design.