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Watch Release: Monsieur de Chanel

Amongst the most exciting watch releases at Baselworld 2016, which closed its doors last week, was Chanel’s Monsieur. As well as being their first men’s watch and their first with an in-house movement, it has two rare and ambitious complications—the jumping hour and the retrograde minute—which create an attractive, fun and original time display.

the new chanel monsieur men's watch

Luxury powerhouse Chanel didn’t start making watches until the late 1980s, and have since specialised in jewellery and cocktail watches for women. As is to be expected from a fashion brand, these timepieces centred on exquisite design. Since releasing the popular all-ceramic Chanel J12, they earned a little more respect from the stalwarts in the high-end watch industry, but still these watches were mostly for fashion-conscious women.

Needless to say, the Monsieur also places a sharp focus on design, but with fewer bells and whistles than its sister watches. It brings with it a number of original features: the font is made specifically for this watch; there is a new logo, a lion’s head, which can be found on the crown, buckle and movement; and the dial is ivory opaline set against a new “beige gold”, which is a slightly softer hue than rose gold. But our favourite feature of all is the stunning, modern-looking movement, on display through the exhibition case back.


The Calibre 1 is finished in matte and gloss black. It features a large circular bridge and a star-shaped balance wheel. As well as its superb looks, it’s excellently made, and has an impressive three-day power reserve.

Chanel Calibre 1 on the Monsieur de Chanel

For the Monsieur, which has been in the making for five years, Chanel took on some help from the esteemed, prize-winning watchmaker, Romain Gauthier. In 2011 they bought a stake in the Romain Gauthier business, which now supplies tailor-made parts to the Chanel watchmaking team. The design and production, however, is all Chanel and the new movement, the Calibre 1, is excellently made and superbly finished.

The complications may sound confusing but in fact they are very straightforward. The retrograde minute functions like a speedometer, with 60 minutes spread across an arced track, and a hand that switches back to zero on reaching 60. The “jumping hour” part simply means the hours are displayed in a digital format, here it’s located below the minutes and seconds. Here there’s a neat touch, a Chanel signature, as the shape around the jumping hour mimics the aerial-view outline of the Place Vendome in Paris, France, Coco’s one-time residence, and the shape of the bottle top on the iconic Chanel No. 5 perfume.

the new chanel monsieur men's watch

This way of telling the time is uncommon and refreshing, and it was a surprising move from Chanel. But we hope the brother watches in this new men’s range, which will be based around the Calibre 1, will focus on originality and complication, and not just trade in on their name.

For 2016 the 40 mm Monsieur will be produced in a limited run of 300 pieces, half of these will be in beige gold for €31,500 and the other half in white gold for €33,000.

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