For seamstresses, especially those working in couture, the essential tools are a pair of scissors and a pincushion, always at hand.
Since it often sits on the wrist, the latter became the basis for Chanel’s latest high-end jewelry watch designs launching on Friday, named “Mademoiselle Privé Pique-Aiguilles” after the object’s name in French.
Arnaud Chastaingt, director of Chanel’s watchmaking creation studio, “liked the image of this functional piece of jewelry that adorns the wrists of seamstresses,” he said in a statement announcing the launch of these new timepieces.
Expressing his fascination for “the design of objects whose architecture is the product of a practical need,” he added that he loved the “random design of needles” stuck into a pincushion and the way pinheads created a decorative effect that evolved as seamstresses work.
Five Mademoiselle Privé Pique-Aiguilles have been created, each in a limited run of 20 pieces, retailing between 175,000 and 250,000 euros. Shared by all is the domed watch glass as well as the black matte grosgrain bracelet and gem-set buckle.
The design of these high-end timepieces is meant to emulate the professional version, often a voluminous velvet dome sitting atop a metal cuff, worn by seamstresses.
Clocking in at 55 mm in diameter, the Pique-Aiguilles watches are significantly larger than the 34 to 40mm range preferred for women’s watches.
“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,” he continued.
The larger size also gave him plenty of space for the couture-inspired tableaux he imagined for the Mademoiselle Privé Pique-Aiguilles chapter.
The name Chanel no doubt brings to mind long necklaces, recognizable chains and Byzantine brooches layered over tweed, and that’s what is encapsulated in the Pearls motif version.
A thimble, scissors and tape measure take pride of place on the “Tweed Motif” model, where the elements of a tweed jacket are laid out, right down to the label and chain that finish it.
Snow-set diamonds dotted on a black-coated white gold dial nod to sequins embroidered on black fabric in the “Embroidery Motif” watch.
On the Lace version, hand engraving, “Grand Feu” enameling and decal techniques have been used to replicate an embellished camellia lace design. A scattering of minute gold beads and diamonds finishes off the effect of this dial produced by Les Cadraniers de Genève, a subsidiary of the watchmaker F.P. Journe in whom Chanel invested in 2019.
Black mother-of-pearl, assembled using marquetry techniques, was used to express the instantly recognizable surface of the house’s flagship handbags for the “Quilted Motif” design.
Previous chapters in the Mademoiselle Privé high-end watch collection have included the “Bouton” cuff design nodding to the bejeweled buttons of the house as well as the “Coromandel” and “Aubazine,” which explored various architectural motifs from places where Gabrielle Chanel lived.