Harper's Bazaar (Singapore)
THE ORIGINAL CHIC
A lesson in style, a study in contrast, this emblematic watch is an icon that’s 35 years in the making—brought back into the spotlight for the 21st-century woman. By Charmaine Ho.
ICON IN THE MAKING
The watch that started it all, the Première is the creation of the late Jacques Helleu, Chanel’s legendary tastemaker who helped shape the House’s image and creations for over 40 years while at its helm as Artistic Director. It is the original double-C timepiece and when it was unveiled in 1987, it ushered in a new era for Chanel—one that saw the brand taking charge of women’s wrists as much as it already did their wardrobes. As Helleu once said of his masterpiece: “I fought to make a design that was strong, that was unique, that—more than just launching a single collection—would become an eternal reference.”
Top; brooch (worn as barrette); Beige Gold and diamond Coco Crush ring; goldcoated steel Première watch; Beige Gold Coco Crush bangle, Chanel
SHAPED FOR FAME
An eternal reference it soon became. Instantly recognisable for its distinctive octagonal shape, the Première watch case was inspired by a Chanel icon that was already much beloved by women then: The N°5 perfume bottle with a glass stopper in the same shape, which in turn found its form in the outline of Paris’s famed Place Vendôme, located just a two-minute walk away from Mademoiselle Chanel’s suite at the Ritz. For its strap, yet another House icon was called upon: The interwoven leather and chain strap of its world coveted quilted bag. The Première, dripping with unmistakeable House codes, was a watch that was more than the sum of its parts.
Jumpsuit; Coco Crush Beige Gold ring; Beige Gold and diamond ring; bag; sneakers, Chanel
WHAT WOMEN WANT
Unlike many of the watches of its time, the Première was not a derivative of a man’s watch. Instead, it was a timepiece that was made specifically for women, with looks that were as fiercely distinctive as they were versatile. It was a little black dress for the wrist that put the perfect finishing touch to any ensemble, setting it apart with panache and stylish defiance. “The Première was the first page in our watchmaking history. It was born out of an absolute freedom of creation and it initiated a vision, the ‘Allure of Time’ as measured by Chanel,” says Director of the Watchmaking Creation Studio Arnaud Chastaingt.
Bra top; jumpsuit (in hand); brooch (worn as barrette); Coco Crush Beige Gold necklace; ring; Beige Gold and diamond ring; gold-coated steel Première watch; Beige Gold bangle, Chanel
THE NEW LEGEND
This year, on the 35th birthday of this emblematic creation, Chanel has released the Première Original Edition watch which pays true tribute to its precursor. Bearing a gold-coated steel case (measuring 26.1 by 20 by 7.65mm), equipped with a high-precision quartz movement, this bevelled beauty with sleek, modernist lines, and a black lacquer dial bereft of numbers, continues to perpetuate the aesthetic codes that Gabrielle Chanel lived by. As Chastaingt so aptly puts it, the Première is far more than a watch. It is “a lesson in style”.
Top; Beige Gold Coco Crush necklace; gold-coated steel Première watch; lipstick, Chanel
Model: May/Basic Models Makeup: Wee Ming using Chanel Hair: Colin Yeo/Tress & Curvy; Doreen Low/Tress & Curvy Photographer’s assistant: Samsidi Baderi Stylist’s assistant: Gracia Phang Assistant: Isabella Chan