By Maria Doulton in London
With so many new watches for women presented by Chanel at Baselworld 2014, it is hard to do just one story on them all. But I am going to start with those new models that really spoke to me.
My selection of Chanel watches all fall under the Mademoiselle Privé jewellery watch collection, which celebrates the métiers d’art – or craftspeople – that are integral to everything Chanel creates.
There is no doubt that the dials that stood out most clearly are those that showcase unusual crafts, and none more so than the Décor Coromandel series. Following on from the previous two years, the Coromandel theme is derived from the Japanese lacquer screens found in Mademoiselle Chanel’s rue Cambon apartment in Paris, above the showroom and workshops.
This year the two sets of watches focus on the musicians depicted on these ancient decorated screens. But what is so intriguing is that the watches, which come as a pair, both have the same motif on the dial, interpreted using different techniques.
A lyre player is painted in miniature enamel on a black background, achieving a tantalising balance between fine detail in the painting and a lightness of touch. The clouds at the musician’s feet and her long robe appear to float in the wind. Surrounding this ethereal scene is a bezel shimmering with diamonds, arranged using the random snow-setting technique.
The pair to this watch is almost a negative of the other. Totally reduced to its minimum expression, the stylised musician is carved out of white mother of pearl and set against blue mother of pearl. The effect is as delicate as a cloud passing through a summer sky.
Equally tantalising are the Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Maki-e dials featuring plump, three-dimensional camellias, created using Japanese Maki-e lacquer. The camellia blooms are built up with layers of the glossy lacquer, and gold powder is sprinkled on top using a special paint brush to create different effects.
The opulent Mademoiselle Privé Camellia adds diamonds to camellia blooms, and the second gold version scatters gold flowers and diamonds around the bottom half of a black lacquer dial.
Last year at Baselworld, Chanel presented the Mademoiselle Privé Caméllia Brodé, hand-stitched with an embroidered camellia flower – Mademoiselle Chanel’s favourite bloom – on the dial. Created in collaboration with the famed embroidery atelier La Maison Lesage, which works closely with Chanel on its haute couture creations, it was a wonderful coming-together of watchmaking know-how and the métiers d’art for which Chanel is famous.
This year, Chanel has collaborated with La Maison Lesage once again on four new Mademoiselle Privé Caméllia Brodé watch dials, delicately embroidered with gold thread on jet-black fabric and embellished with gold and silver sequins, Coco Chanel’s signature pearls and, on one model, a diamond stamen.
And this is just a taster of the rich variety of watches Chanel offer this year. From the €1 million J12 Tourbillon, covered entirely in baguette-cut diamonds, to the stealth-like J12 Intense Black for men in high-tech black ceramic, Chanel truly outdid itself at Baselworld 2014.
Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Coromandel watch in white gold, one of two watches that form the Coromandel Dial Set, with a sculpted mother-of-pearl dial, snow-set with diamonds.
The new Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Camellia Brodé Lesage watch is hand embroidered with gold and green silk thread, white and yellow gold sequins and knotted camellia flowers, and set with a single rose-cut diamond on the dial.
Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Gold Camellia Motif watch in white gold, with hand-engraved yellow gold camellias, diamonds and yellow sapphires on the dial and 60 brilliant-cut diamonds around the bezel.
Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Bouton de Camellia watch in white gold, with a black Grand Feu enamel dial decorated with the Bouton de Camellia motif in diamonds. The case is set with 552 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Camellia Maki-e watch in yellow gold and diamonds. The face is crafted using the ancient Japanese technique of Maki-e in black lacquer and yellow gold.
One of three new Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Camellia Brodé Lesage watches, hand embroidered with yellow gold and green silk thread, gold sequins and natural pearls.
Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Coromandel watch in white gold, one of two watches that form the Coromandel Dial Set, with a Grand Feu enamel dial, snow-set with diamonds.
Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Camellia Brodé Lesage watch, hand embroidered with gold and green silk thread, thread, yellow and white hold gold sequins and natural pearls.