Visiting Chanel Watchmaking Premiere: A Glorious Experience

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Visiting Chanel Watchmaking Premiere: A Glorious Experience

[Watch Culture] The French word “Première” means “first” or “first place”, representing unprecedented, daring, and leading fashion. Since its birth in 1987, the Chanel Première watch has been popular for over 35 years. It is a classic and timeless piece that remains fresh despite changing trends.

The Première watch, introduced in 1987, was a milestone for Chanel’s entry into the watchmaking industry. For the first time, a watch was exclusively designed for women, embodying elegance and avant-garde style rather than being a scaled-down version of a men’s watch. It was named Première not only because it was Chanel’s first watch, but also to pay tribute to Chanel’s chief seamstress, known as “Première”, who was revered in the world of haute couture. It also symbolized Coco Chanel’s understanding and interpretation of time.

Showcasing Chanel’s world, Jacques Helleu, who has been the artistic director of Chanel for over 30 years and responsible for “taste-related matters”, played a significant role in creating the Première watch. Starting his career at Chanel at 18, this outstanding man still maintains a sense of humor and continues to explore what this mysterious and unpredictable mission means. The success of the Première watch is a testament to his creative talent. When designing the Première watch, Jacques Helleu drew inspiration from Chanel’s classic elements: the perfectly octagonal crystal cap of Chanel No. 5 perfume, which inspired the case design, and the chain strap design inspired by the quilted pattern handbag. The combination of gold and black is also present in all Chanel products.

New Première Watch

In Jacques Helleu’s childhood, Chanel No. 5 was the first scent that caught his attention. This is not surprising as it was his mother’s favorite perfume. In 1921, Chanel created the first “perfume for women that smells like a woman”, causing a sensation. Chanel No. 5 revolutionized the perfume industry with its extremely modern creative concept, minimalist bottle design, and mysterious code-like name. The rectangular cut of the bottle cap not only echoed the outline of Place Vendôme in Paris but also evoked the emerald cutting technique used in jewelry making.

Rue Cambon, Chanel’s address in Paris since its establishment in 1910, is just steps away from the famous octagonal Place Vendôme. The perfect octagon is omnipresent in Gabrielle Chanel’s residence on Rue Cambon: precious mirrors, as well as a gold-plated silver box given by the Duke of Westminster. Looking out from her suite at the Ritz Hotel, the view of Place Vendôme is also octagonal. It was from this square that she drew inspiration to create the bottle cap for Chanel No. 5 perfume. When her successor decided to enter the watchmaking industry in 1987, they made the bold decision to use the same design.

Born in glory, the Première watch was initially available in three versions: gold-plated case with a leather chain strap, gold case with enamel or alligator leather strap, and gold case with interlocking gold chain strap.

Inspired by seeing nuns wearing key chains around their waists during his childhood in a monastery, Gabrielle Chanel designed handbags with metal chains. The Première watch transformed the iconic quilted pattern handbag’s leather chain design into a flexible strap, paired with an exquisitely crafted buckle. Wrapped around the wrist in a carefree manner, the Première watch fully embodies Chanel’s core philosophy of comfort and freedom.

New Première Original Edition Watch

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Première watch in 2007, Chanel combined its octagonal dial with the pearl bracelet from the Mademoiselle watch collection to create the new Pearl Première watch. In 2012, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Première watch, Chanel introduced its first high-complication mechanical watch for women, the Première Flying Tourbillon watch. In 2017, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Première watch, Chanel created the Première Camellia Skeleton watch, featuring hollowing and gemstone inlay techniques and equipped with Chanel’s in-house high-end watch movement. Over the years, the Première watch has continuously presented various innovative interpretations, while remaining original and elegant.

Première Mini Watch

Première Camellia Openwork Watch

In 1987, the Première watch shook and amazed the watchmaking industry, still dominated by masculine styles, with its unique contemporary feeling and unstoppable momentum. 36 years later, this style icon is once again presented in its original form as the “Original Edition,” showcasing its most precious qualities – timeless allure.

New Première Watch

Last year marked the 35th anniversary of the Première watch, and Arnaud Chastaingt, Director of Chanel’s Watchmaking Creation Studio, brought the Première watch back into the spotlight with its exquisite streamlined design. For him, the Première watch is the embodiment of Chanel’s watchmaking spirit. “The Première watch is the first page of our watchmaking history. It was born from absolute creative freedom and initiated a vision defined and displayed by Chanel as the ‘charm of time’. This year, I wanted the Première watch to return as one of the protagonists in our collection. This piece always follows Chanel’s style rules and carries our DNA. Première is not just a watch; it is a style icon.”

The Première watch not only opened the door to Chanel’s watchmaking world but also created a unique Chanel time (Le Temps CHANEL). Chanel’s time exists in another dimension where time never truly passes. The Première watch is a piece of jewelry that records time, allowing one to enjoy life in the flow of time, providing a carefree and relaxed experience, making every moment the present. It is also a statement of style, where freedom is the only rule, always remaining true to oneself.

Despite being in existence for over 30 years, the spirit of the Première watch still resonates with every independent woman who lives in the present and follows the current. The Première watch is a tribute to them.

The Première watch has a gold-plated stainless steel case size of 26.1X20mm, a gold-plated stainless steel crown set with a cabochon-shaped onyx, and a gold-plated stainless steel chain intertwined with black leather, equipped with a high-precision quartz movement. Relive the journey of Chanel’s watchmaking; it belongs to no one but her.

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