Chanel may be known best for its little black dresses, tweed suits, quilted bags, and distinctive perfumes, but that in no way means you should discount its horological innovations. Upholding the same renegade spirit that led Gabrielle Chanel to popularise trousers for women and jersey in couture, the luxury house has sought to push the boundaries of tradition in timekeeping, and the results are nothing less than extraordinary. The Maison’s epochal J12 proves as much.
Launched back in 2000, the timepiece not only jump-started the boom in demand for ceramic models, it also shook up the hidebound world of watchmaking with its radical choice of hue (matte monochrome) and material (the aforesaid ceramic). Then-artistic director Jacques Helleu was prompted by his passion for automobiles and sailing to imagine a sporty and functional yet timelessly chic design that could see its wearer from day to night (Helleu named it after the 12-metre J-class racing yachts, which were experiencing a renaissance at the time).
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