When Chanel launched the J12, arguably its most emblematic wristwatch, its masculine and sporty design was so well received that it was placed on a pedestal along with the house’s other iconic creations. Presented in sleek black ceramic and released in 2000, the nautical-inspired watch stood out from the other feminine watches in the market because it was larger, bolder and exuded a touch of manly sexiness.
Borrowing from the boys is far from a new concept for Chanel. Founder Gabrielle Chanel herself was known to raid her lovers’ wardrobes, a habit that eventually led to her incorporating tweed and jersey into her creations — materials that used to be only found in menswear. Some 15 years after the J12, the Maison launched the Boy.friend watch, another androgynous design that treads the balance between femininity and masculinity.
The Boy.friend also brings to mind the Première watch, the Maison’s first timepiece (1987) that pays tribute to the legendary N°5 bottle and the aerial layout of the Place Vendôme.
Presented in an octagonal case with canted corners and a stepped bezel, the Boy.friend’s rather generous proportions, manual-winding movement (only on the 37mm-by-28.6mm variants) and fine finishing are reminiscent of men’s dress watches from the 1920s.
At Baselworld this year, Chanel expanded the collection to include stainless steel models, as well as a smaller size measuring 21.5mm by 27.9mm. These novelties are divided into four lines:
Boy.friend Tweed, Boy.friend Steel, Boy.friend Paved and Boy.friend Arty Diamonds.
Presented in stainless steel, the Boy.friend Tweed and Boy.friend Steel (above) are offered in small and medium sizes, set or unset cases. They are powered by quartz movements, with the medium-sized variants also featuring an additional date function. The main distinguishing factor between the stainless steel and gold versions is the dial colour: The steel models are fitted with a black stamped dial, while those in precious metals feature a silvered dial. Particularly interesting is the strap on the Boy.friend Tweed that is decorated with a weave pattern. Manufactured in a similar way to a Milanese bracelet, it is supple, soft and extremely wearable.
Ladies opting for more glamorous variants will like the Boy.friend Paved in a medium-sized white or beige gold case. Powered by quartz movements, these watches are set with 382 brilliant-cut diamonds on the dial and 64 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel.
Finally, the cherry on the cake is the Boy.friend Arty line that combines watchmaking with Chanel’s expertise in high jewellery making. Offered in the large case and driven by a manual winding movement, each of the five iterations feature a tessellation of fancy-cut diamonds on the dial, as well as a bezel composed with 38 baguette-cut diamonds.