Chanel impresses with its third in-house movement, another perfect match for its modernist Boy.friend watch
CHANEL HAS BEEN PLAYING WITH GENDER FLUIDITY FOR DECADES
hanel has captured the modern zeitgeist beautifully. In fact, the new Boy.friend Skeleton Calibre 3 watch couldn’t be more on trend if it were a woke Timothée Chalamet dressed entirely in millennial pink. “With the Calibre 3, we have fully embraced gender fluidity,” said Nicolas Beau, Chanel’s global head of watches, in a private presentation at Baselworld earlier this year unveiling one of the most fashionable timepieces on the market.
But while the concept of gender fluidity may have captured the public’s imagination only in the past year or two, Chanel has been playing to it for decades. The aesthetic of the fashion house is rooted in founder Coco Chanel’s love of incorporating traditional masculine elements into delicate womenswear collections. Coco created a style in the 1920s that remains immensely popular nearly a century later.
Last year, Chanel launched its first unisex handbag with an advertising campaign featuring buzz-cut Kristen Stewart and Pharrell Williams wearing the same black Chanel jacket, while in 2016, the house presented a genderless fragrance called Boy Chanel, which paired masculine fougère accords with a bouquet of feminine floral essences.
In such company, the Boy.friend Skeleton Calibre 3 watch is a perfect match with the house’s current aesthetic. Ultimately, it is a woman’s watch that plays with masculine style signifiers. The size and architecture would be better suited to your boyfriend. The watch’s plain octagonal case is similar to that of the Boy.friend model introduced in 2015, but with much cleaner lines and a more architectural component.
And yet there is something intensely feminine about it, particularly in the blackened skeleton, which emphasises the roundness of the geometric forms within the rectangular casing. To add an extra hint of femininity, the case and bezel are made of a sparkling beige gold that looks like rose gold in certain lights. The same beige-gold alloy contours the edges of the more visible black components, a touch reminiscent of the inside zips of a classic Chanel jacket.
These details are only possible because Chanel has recently brought in outside expertise so it can produce movements in-house. This follows the example of the métiers d’art group in its fashion division, which has embraced French heritage houses. These include oncehousehold names such as Michel, Lemarié, Massaro, Goossens, Guillet, Montex, Causse and Gérard Lognon, which each contribute to Chanel’s relentless cycle of fashion seasons.
And now the watch world is following a similar path. Every step of the conception, development, testing and fabrication of these watches has been executed by Chanel experts at the in-house department of fine watchmaking at Manufacture G&F Châtelain in La Chauxde-fonds, Switzerland. The Calibre 3’s development took three years, as experts finessed every aspect of the manual-winding mechanical movement to ensure perfection. The intricacy is incredible, given it’s a skeleton movement in which all the components are decorated so as to be as beautiful from the front as from the back— and it’s studded with an impressive 21 rubies.
Making movements is without doubt the most complex part of watchmaking, so acquiring the expertise to create its own was the final brick in the construction of Chanel’s watchmaking maison. This has given the storied brand the power to shape its own destiny—and the watchmaking tastes of the women of the modern world.