Arguably one of the most successful and popular ladies timepiece design, Chanel’s iconic J12 timepiece was, ironically, never intended to be a ladies watch. Launched in 2000, after seven years of intense research and development, the sleek and black 38-mm ticker was presented in high-tech ceramic and bore a decisively sporty allure. To design a watch that he would wear unreservedly, the late Jacques Helleu, Chanel’s artistic director for over 40 years, took to the worlds of automobiles and yachting to come up with an original, functional, recognisable and timeless design that could easily be worn by both sexes.
Although it was mostly ladies who fawned over the J12, it remained true to spirit throughout the next 16 years, catering to both men and women. Aside from the original 38mm size, most versions are also available in 33mm to accommodate smaller wrists. Enlarged versions in 41mm and 42mm are found in more rugged iterations, such as the J12 Marine and J12 Superleggera; while gem-set versions are sometimes offered in 29mm cases.
In an unprecedented move this year, Chanel reveals the J12 XS, a new 19-mm variant of the popular watch. Although seemingly delicate in stature, the J12 XS watches are designed to be larger than life, “XS-sive” and take up more real estate on your arm than any other previous J12 models. (The exception is a one-piece-only cocktail ring made of high-tech ceramic with an onyx dial surrounded by a border of baguette-cut diamonds.)
J12 XS Watch White Lesage Cuff
The entire line is composed of 12 different designs, with seven of them being unique executions. The most versatile is the cuff, which is offered in either black or white calf leather: These detachable cuffs provide the freedom to wear the watch on its own (with the attached patent leather strap) or fastened on the cuff as a statement piece. There is also a model with a multiple strap design that can be firmly attached to the arm like a harness.
For the more style-conscious, Chanel offers the 150-pieces-only J12 XS Black Gloves featuring leather gloves made by Causse. Like the J12 XS Small Cuffs, the gloves are a removable component that allows the watch to be worn as an understated and utilitarian tool, or an eye-catching and glamorous accessory.
J12 XS Watch Black High Jewellery Large Cuff
Chanel also included a few elaborate and unique iterations that reflect its haute couture identity. Some of these watches show the cuffs and gloves designed with intricate hand embroidery and beadwork done by the exceptionally skilled artisans at Maison Lesage, one of the metiers d’art ateliers owned by Chanel. Other designs cast the spotlight on the brand’s jewellery skills, with watches presented in gold and baguette diamonds on black-coated gold cuffs.
Blurring the distinction between fashion accessory and practical timekeeping, the J12 XS watches exemplify the rock-chic and edgy style of the brand; the cuff designs also pay tribute to founder Gabrielle Chanel, who was often seen with a Verdura Maltese Cross bangle on each of her wrists.