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PARIS — As it marks its first quarter-century, Chanel’s Première watch has never looked younger.
This story first appeared in the February 14, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The French fashion house is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its first ladies’ timepiece with a chic and playful new take on the chain strap design, which was originally introduced in 1987.
Chanel unveiled the collection, due to hit stores in early April, on Wednesday at its store here on Place Vendôme — the square whose octagonal shape was the inspiration for both the case of the Première watch and the stopper on the Chanel No. 5 perfume bottle.
Nicolas Beau, international director of watches at Chanel, said that after experimenting in recent years with pearl or ceramic-and-diamond straps for the Première, the creative teams at Chanel wanted to refresh the original look of the watch.
“It’s often easier to create something new than to evolve an existing design, because the expectations are so high,” Beau told WWD. “There is a risk of distorting the spirit of the original creation, so we have been working on this project for several years.”
The case has been lengthened by two millimeters to 28 millimeters, and a 22-millimeter version has been introduced. The faceted glass on the case has been made thinner, and the links on the curb chain have gained heft. The latter can be snapped on and off to adjust the length of the strap.
“The idea is that you can wear it snug on the wrist like a classic watch, or add a couple of links and wear it piled together with other bracelets, like a lot of women do nowadays,” said Beau. Indeed, a promotional reel for the watch showed young women pairing it with everything from a biker jacket to a pink tweed blazer.
The collection consists of 14 quartz timepieces in versions ranging from plain steel to white gold fully set with diamonds, with prices spanning from $4,300 to $223,000.
There are eight steel versions in two sizes, with a choice of white mother-of-pearl or black lacquer for the dial, and optional diamond paving on the case. The four yellow gold references, all featuring a black lacquer dial, are available in two sizes, also with optional diamond paving. The two diamond-studded white gold versions are available in the larger and smaller versions.
The new Première collection hits the market at a time of intense competition among watchmakers for the female dollar, but Beau argued that Chanel has a unique positioning and legitimacy in this field.
“[The Première] marked the history of watchmaking because it was one of the first watches by a luxury brand which was not made in Asia under license, and which was genuinely designed for women, and not a smaller version of a men’s watch, as was often the case,” he said. “It was one of the first ‘It’ products.”
The timepiece will be presented to editors in New York today as part of its global media rollout. This will be followed by a print advertising campaign featuring Franco-Swedish model Sigrid Agren, set to run in the April editions of major international publications.