One of the strongest features of French fashion house Chanel has been the label's talent for spinning new creations from iconic designs that remain timeless. The brand stayed true to this vision with 12 new references for its iconic J12 collection at BaselWorld.
'The Premiere was born 24 years ago and the J12 11 years ago. We want to produce these watches for the next 50 years because when you buy a watch it's an important investment ... keeping the value is very important,' says Chanel's international watch director, Nicolas Beau.
'We're going to develop the Premiere and the J12 through jewellery and materials but we're going to continue to reinforce those iconic models.'
This year's new references are topped with two high-jewellery limited editions: the J12 Haute Joallerie Chronographe, which comes in a limited and numbered 12 pieces and the J12 29mm Diamonds, which also comes in a numbered edition.
The 41mm Chronographe features 561 baguette-cut diamonds weighing 34kt with an additional 0.25kt on the crown, while the 29mm carries a total of 11.9kt worth of baguette and brilliant-cut white and black diamonds.
Slightly less blingy are two new J12 Chromatic Diamonds - one in 38mm and the other in 33mm. With casings and bracelets in titanium ceramic - a new highly scratch-resistant material almost as hard as sapphire - the larger model carries 54 diamonds on the bezel while the smaller quartz model is set with 53.
In similar sizes are the new J12 Chromatic Baguette-cut Diamonds, which also come in titanium ceramic but each featuring 34 baguette-cut diamonds.
'We're focusing our resources on materials; we're always looking at materials that bring benefit to the wearer, not just for the sake of getting new materials. Ceramic, for instance, is very interesting because it's scratch-proof, but it also keeps the temperature of the body. We're always opening our eyes to the research of materials,' Beau says.
Also featuring titanium ceramic are three new models for the J12 Chromatic Classic that comes in 33mm, 38mm and 41mm. The first features a quartz movement, while the latter two house a self-winding mechanical movement with hours, minutes, seconds, date functions and a 42-hour power reserve.
The J12 42mm comes with black or white hi-tech ceramic and also houses a self-winding mechanical movement with a 42-hour power reserve. A black or white lacquer dial forms the base for the 12 rhodium-plated numerals and hands. Chanel's exclusive Calibre 3125, made by Audemars Piguet, is newly housed in sand-blasted hi-tech ceramic for the new J12 Calibre 3125 Sandblasted.
'Since we started, we have only discontinued three models in the J12 collection, and we have only 60 in the collection. There are some companies releasing as many as 60 references a year,' Beau says. 'When you launch something new, it has to replace something. Most people dream of a watch for one or two years before they can afford one. We have to keep them dreaming.
'It may take three years for someone to discover the Chromatic and maybe another few years to buy it. If you keep on bringing new things, you will kill the dream.'