Chanel timepiece

a la une, EXCELLENCE, High Jewellery

Mademoiselle Privé Pique

Couture and jewellery are inseparable since centuries. In the rue Cambon studios, Gabriel Chanel established their modern relationship when she created the first ever high jewellery collection presented as a fashion event, her imprint finding echoes even today. If you close your eyes and think of her, the iconic silhouette will immediately appear into your mind and along will sparkle a pair of scissors suspended from a ribbon which she wore round her neck as a sautoir, and on her wrist the indispensable pincushion. 

Designing a jewellery timepiece is probably the quintessence of these three universes, the excellence in couture, high jewellery and horology. 

“I like the image of this functional piece of jewelry that adorns the wrists of seamstresses. I am fascinated by the design of objects whose architecture is the product of a practical need. In terms of style, the pincushion commands authority on the wrist, with presence and impact. Its outsize format does not detract from its comfort in any way, and it adapts to all wrists. I love the random design of needles on the surface of the cushion. Organized or disorganized, the pinheads pricked into the fabric dome create a decorative effect that evolves with the progress of the seamstress’s work. I have adopted the spirit of this tool to create a watch. While its architecture has the boldness of simplicity, its oversized dial flirts with excess and offers an incredible space for expression. I dreamed of this creation as a blank canvas for the most audacious Métiers d’art. I have imagined five tableaux for this collection: a lacework of camellias, a composition of iconic bags, jewels strewn on black tweed, a diamond embroidery, and a jacket at the pattern stage.”

Arnaud Chastaingt, Director of the CHANEL Watchmaking Creation Studio

Chanel pique aiguille jewellery timepieces

Let’s try to enter this miniature universe. On the cover photo the Camellia Lace born from the association of three techniques of Métiers d’Art. This dial is the result of several steps First, the 18 K yellow gold dial is engraved for about 12 hours to make a multitude of small cuts. The engraver removes tiny bits of gold in order to structure the dial and deepen the perspective through light reflections. The engraved gold dial is then manually covered with enamel using an extremely complex method called Grand Feu” enamel It takes its name from the high temperature, 800 C, to which the dial is exposed. This technique consists of dropping an enamel powder composed of several minerals on the base of the dial, a gold disc. Through several oven passes, the enamel melts on the gold disc. Finally, the motif of the camellia lace is obtained by four successive layers of decal. Each layers has been designed by the Watchmaking Studio and corresponds to a specific motif the honeycomb structure, the edges of the camellias, the shadows etc. Some layers are printed in ink, while other are enamelled transfers. This operation means the decal is printed in enamel. Then, the dial is heated in an oven, so the decal melts with the “Grand Feu” enamel dial The layering technique aims to give an impression of volume and texture Miniature golden pearls and diamonds punctuate the lace as sequins. This dial is produced by LES CADRANIERS DE GENEVE, property of FP Journe.


Aiguilles Tweed Motif

A precious miniature tweed jacket pattern

The fundamental element of the decoration is the pattern of the emblematic tweed jacket of the House. The pattern is cut into a tweed effect plate in brass, then delicately fixed on the back dial It is decorated with numerous precious elements. The jacket is trimmed with 92 diamonds on its edges and pockets and the pockets are decorated with pearls set in gold as buttons. While on top of the pattern stands the tools of the seamstress scissors, a ribbon and a thimble. Each element has been engraved by hand in gold requiring 12 hours of work. To obtain that level of details at a miniature scale was a real challenge. This dial is produced by LES CADRANIERS DE GENEVE, property of FP Journe.

The trim

The dial is trimmed with a row of diamonds lined with a miniature chain identical to those sewn into CHANEL jackets that guaranteed a perfect look. Both have been placed by hand.

A black titanium case to lighten the watch

For a better comfort, the back of the watch has been thought in titanium a light material.

A strap inspired from the world of Couture

The strap was cut from a piece of black grosgrain fabric referring to the material long used in the House’s for sling back shoes It features a gold folding buckle that guarantees a better security and better comfort.

Aiguilles Pearls Motif

A refined sculpted gold set of jewelries

Each accessory is finely sculpted by hand on a gold plate requiring 50 hours of work. The challenge is to sculpt from a single plate the jewelries at a miniature scale and in details without breaking the material. The gold ornaments are then placed on a black tweed effect plate in brass. One long necklace is decorated with diamonds and miniature pearls. Each pearl has been placed one by one on the structure of the long necklace. The other necklace has been painted in black using miniature painting to reproduce the iconic black and gold chain of the bag. This technique takes a full day as several layers are applied to get an intense and deep black. A pair of earrings complete the set a diamond is encircled by four gold drops and four onyx, facetted by hand and set in gold sugarloaves.

Aiguilles Quilted Motif

A mother of pearl marquetry

The dial features a multitude of miniature 2 55 bags, on top of each other. As a token of preciousness, they are trimmed with a gold thread that has been sculpted from a gold plate Then, mother of pearl plates engraved with the

quilted motif and covered with a black mat varnish on both sides, have been placed within the gold threads. It is a real challenge to get the quilted motif on this material without breaking it as the thin surface is engraved at a miniature scale several times. The second challenge was to meet the Studio’s expectations regarding the black color for a realistic result.

Each bag is decorated with a baguette cut diamond clasp and a miniature 2.55 chain adorned with one or two brilliant cut diamonds. Each chain has been polished and finalized by hand A manual work requiring 3 days. Finally, for a realistic rendering, the eyelet of the bags have been drilled to pass the chain into the hole.

Aiguilles Embroidery Motif

The Manufacture setting expertise

The CHANEL Manufacture unveils its expertise through the snow setting performed on the dial. The white gold plate is first manually cut in order to create a multitude of spots to set the diamonds. The dial then disappears under a veil of diamonds of various sizes, evenly scattered requiring 1 continuous week of setting Finally, the dial is covered with a black treatment to create a contrast between the brightness of the stones and the metal. Finally, the dial is curved to give an impression of volume and optimize the light reflection on the diamonds.

The stones

CHANEL exclusively selects diamonds of F/G VVS quality Besides, CHANEL’s sourcing of diamonds meets the criteria defined by the Responsible Jewelry Council, which aims to promote responsible, ethical, social and environmental practices throughout the supply chain, from mining to point of sale.

by Alexandra Mas