BLURRED LINES

Chanel im­presses with its third in-house move­ment, an­other per­fect match for its mod­ernist Boy.friend watch

Hong Kong Tatler - - Style | Watches -

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.

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