The Chanel Calibre 3.
EVER since the launch of the Calibre 1 in 2016 with Monsieur de Chanel, people have been buzzing about Chanel’s horological rebirth. The French fashion house has made a point to create interesting and in-house movements for all of their latest watches, including this year’s Calibre 3. The Calibre 3 features the Boy.friend case with skeletonised movement adding to the growing collection of in-house made movements by Chanel. Here is what is new this year with the Calibre 3.
Chanel has been in the watchmaking game for over 30 years, however it was not until 2016 that they made their very own movement — the Calibre 1 (each caliber since then has been named numerically). It made quite a splash with the jump hour complication for the fashion house’s first men’s watch. It was certainly my favourite release in 2016 and created quite a buzz amongst collectors. One of the cool things about the movement is that the bridges were designed with the help of Independent watchmaker Romain Gauthier. It is important to note here that Chanel has part ownership of Gauthier and he did not design or make the movement but helped design the bridges specifically. Chanel is firm to note this as they want to maintain their reputation for making the movements themselves. Up next you have the Calibre 2 with the Chanel Premiere Camelia SkeletonWatch, which featured a camelia-shaped movement with wheels designed by Gauthier. This watch was more feminine than the previous Monsieur de Chanel, so Chanel is clearly trying to play both sides of their audience.
This year Chanel followed up with the Calibre 3, a manual-winding movement with circular bridges fitted into the Boy.friend case. The Boy.friend, in case you forgot, was released in 2015 and was spotted on the wrist of fashion influencers and watch enthusiasts alike. The movement used was the ETA 7001 manual-winding movement which is very respectable for a fashion house (a lot of manufacturers use quartz). But you should expect nothing less from Chanel who have been producing watches since 1987 and use movements such as the Audemars Piguet calibre 3125 in the J12, and just started making their own in-house calibres with the previously mentioned Monsieur.
The Chanel Calibre 3 is produced in beige gold which has become a staple alloy for the Maison. Not quite yellow, not quite white, beige gold is a muted gold that is flattering to almost any skin tone. It is supposed to be a muted version of Rose Gold but looks much closer to Lange’s Honey Gold which really is a beautiful colour. Unfortunately Chanel is pretty tight-lipped about the composition of Beige Gold but all we know is it is exclusive to them. The watch case measures 37mm x 28.6mm and the version with diamonds (not pictured) has white diamonds set into the bezel.
On the wrist this watch wears just like Boy.friend. Personally, I am not a fan of rectangular watches. I find it to be a little awkward and not that flattering on the wrist. However, the case of the Boy.friend works for some reason, I am not sure if it is because of the canted corners. I also think that the dimensions allow for easy wear. The Beige Gold is flattering and can easily be mixed with other metals (something that some ladies struggle to do — I personally love to mix metals). But the most impressive thing about this watch is the movement.
The movement built out of a series of circular bridges made of brass with black ADLC coating. For me, I like the design of the movement because of the balance and use of negative space. Generally, the function of the movement is what is most important (do not get me wrong it is not only important, it is crucial), but it is nice to see Chanel tackle a movement design with the aesthetics as the priority. The movement is both visually striking and impressive due to the fact that they were made by Romain Gauthier (like the Calibre 1 and 2 before it). It’s manual-winding and the power reserve is a helpful 55 hours. But the most interesting thing about this movement, is not how it looks but how it was built. Usually skeletonised movements are made by cutting away from an existing movement. The Calibre 3, however, was built as a skeletonised movement from the ground up. The layout of the Calibre 3 is very classic as well with mainspring barrel up top, fourth wheel running in a jewel at the bottom of the largest central circular bridge, with the seconds hand on the pivot of the fourth (seconds) wheel.
The price of the Calibre 3 is US$40,600 (RM166,866) without diamonds, which will certainly set you back. And for most it will be hard to get behind such an expensive time-only watch when you can buy a Lange 1815 Annual Calendar for the same price. But overall I think that the Calibre 3 is a nice addition to the Chanel collection of watches. They have been doing great things as of late and it is nice to see yet another credible timepiece added into the mix. People may roll their eyes when they see another J12 on the wrist of a upper-class suburban housewife, but Chanel certainly has proven its horological chops over their 30-plus years in watchmaking. Chanel is clearly at the forefront of watchmaking in the fashion world. Other fashion maisons that make watch collections just are not in the same league, paying attention to just the dial/case and not the entire watch. However, it is important to note that more and more fashion houses are expanding into producing watches overall, showing that there is an appetite for the market. — Bloomberg
This article was first published on Hodinkee.