February 24, 2024

The octagonal stopper on Chanel’s famous perfume bottles was directly inspired by the shape of Place Vendôme, Paris, the most luxurious shopping square in the world.

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton

This has in turn inspired the shape of the octagonal case of Chanel’s Première watch, whose name clearly elucidates that it was the first timepiece the fashion house issued back in 1987.

Place Vendôme, Paris

An aerial view of Place Vendôme in Paris

Chanel was one of the first big fashion brands to move into the watch sector along with Gucci.

The Première line – with which Chanel’s entire watch division was established – celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year, and it does so with more imaginative mechanical style than usual.

Chanel Caliber 2

How can something so delicate looking be so complex?

I’ll answer that with another question: that’s really the secret of most women, isn’t it?

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton Set

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton Set

And although I do find it strange for a global fashion powerhouse with an almost completely female customer base to be dedicating its second manufacture movement to women, I am quite pleased that a new manufacture movement for a female-targeted watch has entered the market at all.

At Baselworld 2016 Chanel introduced its first manufacture movement in a watch dedicated to men: the Monsieur de Chanel, whose movement was created with the aid of Romain Gauthier (see Surprising Ties That Bind: Chanel And Romain Gauthier).

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton

The new movement, Caliber 2, needed five years to develop, mainly due to the ethereal skeletonized bridges that combine to create the shape of a camellia flower.

Sketch of the Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton Set

Sketch of the Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton Set

The Chanel Caliber 2 was designed by Chanel’s Paris creation studio with help from Romain Gauthier’s team, after which it was given to Chanel’s engineers at Châtelain in La Chaux-de-Fonds to develop, manufacture, and assemble. Chanel purchased Châtelain, a famous watch assembly company, in 1993.

Diamond set bridge of the Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton Set

Diamond-set skeletonized bridges of the Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton

This is truly technology at the service of design.

Full of Chanel codes such as the play between black and white, the graceful, openworked Caliber 2 represents the most famous symbol of Chanel: the camellia, the brand’s favorite flower.

Setting diamonds into the ornate floral bridge of the Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton

Setting diamonds into the ornate floral bridge of the Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton

This is achieved by first shaping the skeletonized bridges in specific curves then stacking them so they spiral outward from the center of the movement. Coated with black ADLC (Amourphous Diamond Like Carbon), when seen from both the front and the back, the bridges appear to float between the two panes of sapphire crystal within the rectangular white gold case.

Assembling a Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton

Assembling a Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton

The skill of the designers comes especially to the fore in the diamond-set and fully diamond-set versions, which boast 246 brilliant-cut diamonds set into the delicate bridges. Setting movement bridges with gemstones is a true feat of mechanical engineering.

Casing a Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton

Casing a Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton

And the clever mechanical simplicity of the movement is illustrated by the fact that it comprises just 107 individual components.

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton Set

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton Set

The camellia

The camellia originates with Coco Chanel, founder of the company. It seems that Coco first became enamored of the flower after reading Alexandre Dumas’ La Dame aux Camélias, wherein the flower symbolized the heroine of the story’s pure heart.

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton Full Set

The fully diamond-set Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton boasting 22.7 ct of diamonds

Legend also has it that Coco loved wearing the flower because it had no scent – and would therefore not interfere with her perfume (Chanel No. 5, of course).

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton Set

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton on a black satin strap with diamond setting

The camellia has figured prominently in Chanel’s designs since the 1920s as embroidery, embellishment, or in the shape of an accessory. Today it is found on wallets, sunglasses, pouches, and jewelry.

And watches.

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton Full Set

Chanel Premíère Camellia Skeleton Full Set

For more information, please visit https://www.chanel.com/en_US/watches-jewelry/watches/premiere.

Quick Facts Premíère Camellia Skeleton
Case: 28.5 x 37 mm, white gold set with 92 brilliant-cut diamonds; bezel set with 104 brilliant-cut diamonds; white gold crown set with 24 brilliant-cut diamonds
Movement: manually wound Caliber 2 with 48-hour power reserve and skeletonized bridges shaped like a flower, 107 components; 28,800 vph, variable inertia balance
Functions: hours, minutes
Strap: black satin, double folding clasp set with 30 brilliant-cut diamonds
Total diamond weight: 5.54 ct
Price: €130,000

Quick Facts Premíère Camellia Skeleton Set
Case: 28.5 x 37 mm, white gold set with 47 baguette-cut diamonds; bezel set with 42 baguette-cut diamonds and 52 brilliant-cut diamonds; white gold crown set with 16 baguette-cut diamonds and 11 brilliant-cut diamonds
Movement: manually wound Caliber 2 with 48-hour power reserve and skeletonized bridges shaped like a flower, 107 components; 28,800 vph, variable inertia balance; set with 246 brilliant-cut diamonds
Functions: hours, minutes
Strap: black satin, double folding clasp set with 30 brilliant-cut diamonds
Total diamond weight: 7.85 ct
Price: €190,000

Quick Facts Premíère Camellia Skeleton Full Set
Case: 28.5 x 37 mm, white gold set with 47 baguette-cut diamonds; bezel set with 42 baguette-cut diamonds and 52 brilliant-cut diamonds; white gold crown set with 16 baguette-cut diamonds and 11 brilliant-cut diamonds
Movement: manually wound Caliber 2 with 48-hour power reserve and skeletonized bridges shaped like a flower, 107 components; 28,800 vph, variable inertia balance; set with 246 brilliant-cut diamonds
Functions: hours, minutes
Bracelet: white gold set with 282 baguette-cut diamonds, double folding clasp set with 30 brilliant-cut diamonds
Total diamond weight: 22.7 ct
Limitation: 12 pieces
Price: €460,000