The New Chanel Monsieur. Superleggera Edition Watch Introduces Himself
The Chanel Monsieur. stepped into the limelight in 2016 in a beige, gold, and creamy white attire and with a very much intentional and stylish period in its name. It was the first-ever Chanel watch specifically designed for men. And to celebrate that fact it also boasted the Calibre 1, the brand’s first in-house movement. Five years later the Chanel Monsieur. Superleggera Edition Watch introduces himself, a sporty lightweight piece with a famous name.
When petrol heads hear or read the word “Superleggera”, they think of an Italian coachbuilder that has been responsible for some of the most exquisite cars in the world since 1926. My favorite? The Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera Alfa Romeo Disco Volante Spyder (introduced in 2016), inspired by the famous 1952 Alfa Romeo C52. But I have to admit that when I hear “Superleggera”, I also think of Chanel’s J12 Superleggera H1624, an ETA 2894-2-equipped chronograph made from both ceramic and aluminum — quite an unusual creation, and a chronometer-certified one at that! The latest Superleggera is based on the Monsieur. and is unusual in a different way.
Meet the Chanel Monsieur. Superleggera Edition
There’s a couple of things you need to know about the inner workings of the Monsieur. Superleggera Edition, because it’s a movement-follows-design kind of watch. To give the design a heartbeat, Chanel turned to Romain Gauthier. It resulted in the Caliber 1, as the name clearly states, the brand’s first in-house movement. Back in 2011 Chanel invested in the brand Romain Gaulthier that itself produces around 100 timepieces per year. But Romain Gauthier also produces parts for other brands. And for Chanel, the people working in the Romain Gaulthier workshop, manufacture and finish the movement’s parts like wheels, pinions, barrel covers, and balances.
With a little help from Romain Gaulthier
Romain Gaulthier helped in the styling of the circular bridges of the Calibre 1, but the construction of the movement itself is done by Chanel Horlogerie, housed in Chanel’s G&F Chatelain complex in La Chaux-de-Fonds. The movement has a fully integrated construction. Meaning that no modules are used. The movement features two mainspring barrels, resulting in a three-day power reserve, and there’s also a free-sprung, adjustable mass balance. But the main feature of the movement is its stunning looks. The key element being circular forms. The largest circle holds four wheels in its place and connects to a bridge that encircles the balance, forming the infinitely flowing number “8”.
The main attraction
The color-coordinated movement — we’ll get to the coordinated part in a bit — is finished very carefully and the details are top-notch. The wheels have chamfered spokes and rims, and the prominent screw heads show chamfered slots and edges. Nice handy work, you might think, but that’s where you’re wrong. The finishing is done by machine. It explains the extremely crisp and sharp edges. The diamond-tipped tool and the CNC machine sure do a good job.
The main attraction is a jumping hour display at 6 o’clock …
Caliber 1 is a hand-wound, 4Hz, time-only movement with 72 hours of power reserve. The main attraction is a jumping hour display at 6 o’clock, small seconds right above it, and a 240° retrograde minute hand at the top.
Just like Place Vendôme
The dial is three-dimensional, partly see-through around the edge, and features matte black surfaces that reveal a delicate guilloche. The hour display is framed in a window that emulates the shape of Place Vendôme — the famous square in Paris where Coco Chanel’s residence, The Ritz, is located along with Chanel’s flagship boutique.
This square shape can also be found in the pin buckle and even in the newly designed typography of the Arabic numerals. The lion’s head on the steel crown and buckle is a symbol widely used in the Chanel design universe.
During the launch of the first Monsieur. back in 2016, Nicolas Beau, chief of Chanel’s watch division, emphasized during our conversation that it was crucial for Chanel to develop its own movements in order to lay the foundations for a successful business in high-end watches. In 2018 Caliber 2 appeared in the Première Camélia Skeleton, and so did Caliber 3 in the Boy.Friend Skeleton. The fact that Chanel means business also reflects in the fact that Chanel, together with Tudor, has taken a 20% stake in watch manufacturer Kenissi. This manufacturer specializes in automatic calibers. Chanel and Tudor are jointly building a new factory for Kenissi in Le Locle. The first J12 models equipped with a Kenissi movement are already on the market.
Serious watchmaking stuff, no doubt. But do watch enthusiasts/collectors take a watch with the Chanel name on the dial seriously? Well, I do, and I am an enthusiast. I think the J12 that has been around since 2000 has proven itself as a worthy watch from both a technical and aesthetic point of view — I particularly like the J12 Marine with its navy blue bezel.
It may take a bit of time for the seasoned watch lover to connect Chanel with the object of his life-long passion: watches.
And the Chanel Monsieur. Superleggera Edition is, by all means, a serious watch — the movement is original and of a very high watchmaking level, and the design is original and very well thought out. It may take a bit of time for the seasoned watch lover to connect Chanel with the object of his life-long passion: watches. But it’s well worth the effort, I think.
Chanel Monsieur. Superleggera Edition on the wrist
The perfectly symmetrical layout of the Chanel Monsieur. Superleggera Edition should pose no problems in reading the time. The time display reads vertically and upward. You start with the hours at six, kind of ignore the running seconds, and end with the minutes on top. You need eagle eyes or glasses to read it quickly, though. Yes, we’re dealing with a 42mm watch, but the scale of the retrograde minutes and the numbers on it are quite small. And the fact that its retrograde minute hand makes a 240° sweep also doesn’t help the intuitive side. A 180° sweep would be easier to read.
An automotive touch
The 42 × 10.85mm case has an interesting construction. The case band and integrated lugs are made of matte black ceramic, The case back and bezel, however, are crafted in steel. Screws that fit into the bezel (which has a black ceramic insert) from the back, sandwich the ceramic middle part.
… the retrograde seconds also kind of look like an instrument in a dashboard.
The strap combines nylon and calfskin for a sporty look and supple comfort. The word “Superleggera” in red provides the automotive touch. And if you use your imagination, the retrograde seconds also kind of look like an instrument in a dashboard. The watch is sporty, feels light, and when you look at it the watch might not tell you the time instantly, but it will make you appreciate its brilliant design.
Do you want to meet the Chanel Monsieur.?
If you want to meet the latest Chanel Monsieur. it might be good to know that only 55 of these watches will be made. Even though the movement is complicated, clever, and beautiful (as are the case and dial), the price is quite serious indeed at €36,000. All editions in the Monsieur de Chanel collection typically cost €25k and up, so it’s a pretty exclusive watch series anyhow. So who is it for? For people who feel at home in the Chanel universe and who surround themselves with everything Chanel, from eyewear, fragrances, skincare, jewelry, to, of course, couture. People who are not scared off by multi-digit prices because they’re used to it. Maybe €36,000 in my world is “just” €6,000 in the Chanel universe? It’s a universe that looks and smells fabulous, that’s all I know for sure.
For more information, visit Chanel’s official website.
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