Curations: Chanel spins 90s electronic music culture into vivid designs for its Electro watch collection

The Chanel Electro capsule watch collection comprises four distinctive models from the maison, remade with neon-coloured accents. Photo: Chanel

For its new capsule collection of timepieces, Chanel reimagined four of its signature watch models with the vibrant aesthetics and energy of the 1990s electronic music scene.

Arnaud Chastaingt, director of the maison’s Watchmaking Creation Studio, tapped into the pulsating sounds and graphic visuals of this nightlife culture to create the Chanel Electro line, which was unveiled at this spring’s Watches and Wonders fair.

“I conceived this capsule collection like a performance programme, inviting our classics – the Première, J12, Boy.Friend and Code Coco – to perform side by side on this stage, drawing their inspiration from the codes of this world,” Chastaingt says.

Here’s how the world of electronic music plays out in each design, from pops of neon colours to a diamond-studded robot motif.

The Première Electro features a multicoloured leather strap woven into a chain bracelet made of blackened steel. Photo: Chanel

Première Electro

The Première was Chanel’s very first watch, which debuted in 1987. The design features an octagonal case shape that resembles a bird’s-eye view of the Place Vendôme, the famous square in the heart of Paris, as well as the stopper in a bottle of the maison’s iconic N°5 perfume.

Now, Chastaingt has reinvented the look of the watch to evoke the atmosphere inside a dance club, where coloured lights pierce through the dark.

The Première Electro has a chain bracelet made of blackened steel, which is interwoven with a multicoloured leather strap to make for a striking contrast. The watch runs on a high-precision quartz movement and is limited to just 555 pieces.

The J12 Electro is crafted in black ceramic and steel, with the numbers on the dial and bezel markers in a rainbow of bright colours. Photo: Chanel

J12 Electro

Chanel introduced its sporty, high-performance J12 watch in 2000 using black ceramic. Over the years, it has been remade with white ceramic and other materials, while various horological complications like a tourbillon have been added.

Now, the J12’s timeless design has been given a futuristic edge for the capsule collection. The J12 Electro is cast in highly durable black ceramic and steel, and accented with a rainbow of brightly hued numbers and markers on the dial and bezel.

The new watch is available in two versions: a 38mm model equipped with the Calibre 12.1 self-winding movement, and a 33mm timepiece powered by a high-precision quartz movement. Each version of the J12 Electro is available in a limited run of 1,255 pieces.

The Boy.Friend Electro features a robot motif made with brilliant-cut diamonds, plus a strap with Chanel’s iconic quilted pattern and a neon pink lining. Photo: Chanel

Boy.Friend Electro

First launched in 2015, the Boy.Friend is an elegant timepiece that blends masculine and feminine style – a trend that Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel envisioned decades earlier. Its design is definitively Chanel, featuring the same octagonal case shape as the Première and straps in materials such as tweed and quilted leather.

The French maison’s new interpretation of the watch is crafted in steel and set with 142 brilliant-cut white diamonds. The dial features a robot motif made of white diamonds, while the strap is made of black quilted calfskin with a neon pink lining that adds a jolt of colour. The Boy.Friend Electro is a highly limited edition model, with only 55 pieces made.

The Code Coco Electro features a blackened steel case paired with a quilted leather strap in neon pink, and is set with a single diamond. Photo: Chanel

Code Coco Electro

Inspired by Chanel’s quintessential 2.55 handbag, the Code Coco fashion watch was first revealed in 2017. Its wraparound design features a rotating clasp like the one seen on the bag, which turns with a click to reveal or conceal the time.

The Electro makeover of the Code Coco turns up the colour, with a quilted leather strap in a neon pink hue that is intensified by the contrasting black braiding as well as the blackened steel case and clasp.

The design is finished off by a single princess-cut diamond, and inside the case is a high-precision quartz movement. Like the other creations in Chanel’s capsule collection, the Code Coco Electro is a limited edition watch, with only 255 pieces available.

  • The limited edition capsule line reimagines 4 of the maison’s signature timepieces: the Première, J12, Boy.Friend and Code Coco
  • Arnaud Chastaingt, director of Chanel’s Watchmaking Creation Studio, borrowed graphic visuals and neon colours from the genre