Code Coco chic
CHANEL watch balances style with innovation
Full disclosure: I’m what you’d call a “watch person.”
Despite smartphones having rendered watches for literal, timetelling purposes all-but obsolete, I still consider a timepiece to be an unerringly elegant addition to any arm. The very fact that wearing a watch as a practical necessity is no longer a requirement means that, these days, those who opt to wear a timepiece are explicitly choosing to do so. For them.
And it’s the personal reasons behind an individual deciding to wear a watch — whether nostalgia, style, prestige or personal history — that can be so fascinating
“I never wear a watch,” a stylish friend once told me, prompted to do so after she admired the delicate, two-tone timepiece adorning my wrist. “Well, why not?” I asked her. “I don’t know,” she said after a second-spanning pause. But I do.
For a person to wrap a watch around their wrist in 2018, it has to be unique. It has to be something special. It has to do more than, well, simply tell time. So, to put it bluntly, my friend doesn’t wear a watch because she probably hasn’t found the right one yet. For her.
Creating a style that stands out is increasingly important for brands to remain relevant in any retail space, but especially in the watch world. Unlike men’s watches, which are often celebrated simply for the movements and technology contained inside an otherwise austere casing, a women’s watch must be many things — elegant, unique, functional, whimsical — but, above all else, it must tell a story. And that’s where a design like the Code Coco watch from CHANEL comes in.
At first glance, the watch looks less like a timepiece and more like a glinting piece of jewelry. The watch features a wide, cuff-like bracelet with detailing reminiscent of the French fashion house’s iconic quilted pattern first featured on the 2.55 handbag first debuted by Mademoiselle Chanel in February 1955. The tiny squares comprising the flexible bracelet catch the light and immediately attract the eye. Another nod to Gabrielle Chanel and her coveted handbag creation, the face of the watch also features a functioning, clasp-mechanism closure, the very same one that can be found on the original 2.55 handbag designs.
First revealed in 2017, the Code Coco debuted earlier this year at Baselworld coated in a new material, one that further explores the history of watchmaking at CHANEL. That material, is hightech ceramic. CHANEL was one of the first fashion brands to work with the material via its watchmaking headquarters, G&F Châtelain de La Chaux-de-Fonds, in Switzerland, when it introduced its bestselling J12 watch design in 1999. To date, the unisex watch is, in its many interpretations, still a top timepiece for the brand.
The unique ceramic material, which is comprised of zirconium dioxide and yttrium “powder,“has proven to be more resilient than other materials such as stainless steel and is scratchproof, lightweight and incredibly hard. In inky, pigmented black, the material makes the timepiece appear more elegant, refined and more jewelry-like than a metal counterpart thanks to a lustrous shine produced by polishing. And, oh, how it sparkles. During a recent visit to the CHANEL Boutique Joaillerie located in Place Vendôme in Paris, that same friend who admired my simple timepiece slipped one of the Code Coco watches onto her wrist. Twisting the Mademoiselle lock closed, it settled into place with a subtle, satisfying click. As the sales associate and I chatted further about the features of the watch, I turned to look at my friend and paused when I noticed her face. She wore a small smile, eyes firmly fixed downward at the Code Coco watch on her wrist. As she moved her arm back and forth, the tiny geometric grid of smooth ceramic caught the boutique lighting, creating a sparkling display.
I’m pretty sure she’d just found her watch.