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Decoding Chanel

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Stepping in the booth of Chanel is always an adrenalin rush. As a child, I would never have thought that I would be browsing the novelties of one of my icons on the opening day. The entire stand this year was built around the Code Coco campaign that Chanel launched during the Fashion Week last autumn. At the main hall Lucia Pica, Virginie Viard, Alma Jodorowsky and Stella Tennant, Kim Young-Seong, Alice Dellal, Agnès Liely, Anna Mouglalis and Deniz Gamze Ergüven looked down onto the visitors from television screens on looping videos. The motion picture for the campaign was styled by Leïla Smara.

At Basel, the Maison brought out new versions of the Code Coco and presented novelties in the J12 and Boy.Friend lines too.

Code Coco

In 2000 Chanel introduced high-tech ceramic on their timepieces. First in radiant black and then also in white in 2003. Since then the brand has been making this material really fashionable and stylish. There are many variations: new colours, the creation of matte surfaces, limited editions and exceptional pieces.

Ceramic appeared on the Code Coco watch in black combined with steel details. The black lacquered dials are set with a princess-cut diamond. On one model they are framed in a 52 brilliant-cut diamond-set bezel, the other version omits the stones and lets the metal shine. The Code Coco was inspired by the famous quilted 2.55 bag (created by Mademoiselle Chanel in February 1955), therefore motifs on the bracelet reflect its quilted squares and the clasp is similar to that on the bag.



Chanel put ceramic on the J12 series for the first time. In 2017 a number of limited editions were introduced, such as the J12 Graffiti, the J12 Collector or the 38mm Mademoiselle J12. (See more about them here.)

The pieces have been a great success and Chanel decided to surprise collectors with a special line this year. There is a set of 12 one-of-a-kind watches, each decorated with an abstract composition of numerals from 1 to 12 depicted by ceramic marquetry designed by the Chanel Watchmaking Creative Studio. Interestingly, Chanel will publish and sell these pieces one by one online with the help of social media influencers.

In the same spirit but without the ceramic marquetry, two J12 watches came out in black and white in a limited-edition series of 1,200 pieces each. On the dial they both have the number 12 inscribed.



Debuted in the first half of 2015, the Chanel Boy.Friend bears the well-known silhouette of the Première in an easy-to-wear ‘everyday’ style. A tribute to the legendary N°5 bottle and to the Place Vendôme in Paris, the rectangular octagon shape started its world-domination with the Première collection in 1987. The feminine creation is taken to a bit more masculine territory by the Boy.Friend watch.

The campaign face of the watch is a very original individual, Caroline de Maigret. She is a French supermodel, the granddaughter of Prince Michel Poniatowski, and daughter of Count Bertrand de Maigret. She studied economics and enrolled at the Sorbonne in Modern Literature. Caroline also works as a music producer. She epitomises the edgy and relaxed French coolness – as one of Karl Lagerfeld’s most recognisable muses, Caroline has appeared globally in renowned publications and Chanel shows.


New versions surfaced in Basel with new coloured alligator straps (the spring-time coloured straps available for small, medium and large models) and the tweed strap from last year came in beige gold this time. A small model was also on showcase finished with 246 brilliant-cut diamonds.


Probably the most interesting Baselworld novelty was the Boy.Friend Skeleton. Three years after Chanel launched the first in-house movement, the Maison presented this watch with the calibre.

As Frédéric Grangié (CEO of Chanel Watches & Fine Jewellery since July 2016) explains: ‘The movements and the watches (…) are born from close collaboration between Chanel’s Studio of Creation, the department of Fine Watchmaking at G&F Châtelain, and the work of a group of exceptional artisans who are recognised for their mastery of certain skills.’

G&F Châtelain SA was founded in 1947 for polishing bracelet loops and lapping gold and steel cases. Later they took up other activities, such as creating cases from different materials, gem setting, producing ceramic components and different watch and jewellery parts. In 1993, Chanel bought Châtelain but the company retained its name. A team dedicated to the project created the Calibre 3 skeleton movement.

The Boy.Friend Skeleton arrived in a refined octagonal beige gold case, in a plain and a diamond-studded version.


Photo credits: Chanel, Loupiosity.com.
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