The J12 watch changes everything, without changing anything
At the dawn of its 20th
anniversary, the J12 watch has transformed and metamorphosed without losing its very essence. Naturally.
This is not a new J12 watch, it’s The J12.
Of today and tomorrow, and yet of yesterday too.
An icon does not change, it adapts to the passing of time by capturing and sculpting it, by enhancing and understanding it.
The J12 watch is born out of desire.
When Jacques Helleu, artistic director of the House, decided to create a watch, he designed it for himself. While drafting his first pencil lines he imagined it as timeless, sporty and all black. His inspiration came from the two worlds he loved most: automobiles and sailing.
He greatly admired the chassis lines of racing cars and, above all, the regal silhouettes of the America’s Cup racing class, the J12. The watch would take this as its name.
In the year 2000, the J12 revolutionized the world of watchmaking. In black ceramic, it was crowned the first watch icon of the 21st
At first black in 2000, then white in 2003, it is unalterable and almost as eternal as a diamond. It constantly renews the allure of a woman’s wrist, forever.
Twenty years after its creation, Arnaud Chastaingt, director of the CHANEL Watch Creation Studio gave the J12 a makeover without touching the very identity that built its legend and its success.
To increase the dial opening, the bezel was refined: the number of its notches increased from 30 to 40 and the typeface of its numerals and indexes was redesigned. The width of the crown was reduced by a third, like the ceramic cabochon that adorns it.
Original drawing by Jacques Helleu
Indicators have been added to the inner railway, which itself has also been reworked.
To fully anchor the J12 in the House codes, the AUTOMATIC and SWISS MADE mentions are now in the CHANEL typeface; the SWISS MADE being integrated on the flange.
The original typeface of the numerals was also redesigned by the CHANEL Creation Studio to enhance and refine it. The numerals applied to the dial are now in ceramic.
The hands too, were honed and refined. The hour and minute hands are now the same width with a dimensional adjustment of the luminescent areas in black Super-LumiNova on the black J12 and in white on the white J12, for a negative effect.
The thickness of the case was slightly increased while maintaining the J12’s fluid lines. By softening and rounding its profile, the case appears no thicker than before.
The bassine case and the design of the new bracelet, subtly modified with extended links, accentuate this optical illusion and finesse.
The latest J12 now has a one-piece ceramic case equipped with a sapphire crystal so the new 12.1 caliber automatic movement, specially developed by the new Suisse manufacturer KENISSI Manufacture, can be seen to be admired. The oscillating weight has been totally redesigned in tungsten to produce its openwork while maintaining efficient rewinding power, as the CHANEL Creation Studio wanted a perfect circle, one of the graphic signatures of CHANEL Haute Horlogerie. The caliber 12.1, a chronometer certified by COSC (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres), offers 70-hour power reserve.
Because the J12 could not remain itself, it had to evolve. Without ever changing.
The J12 watch remains the J12
Director of the Chanel watch creation studio since 2013, the designer tinkered with the details of the fabled ceramic timepiece.
A graduate of Applied Arts and the École supérieure de design Strate Collège, Arnaud spent 10 years at Cartier.
Since 2013, Arnaud Chastaingt has notably created the BOY. FRIEND watches, and CODE COCO, the various animations of the Première watch, the J12 and the Mademoiselle Privé. He also designed the MONSIEUR DE CHANEL, the House’s first in-house caliber.
Since his arrival, he has been awarded twice at the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix, in 2017 for the Première Squelette Camélia, 2nd
calibre of the house and in 2018 for the BOY.FRIEND Squelette watch, 3rd calibre in-house.