Watch & Jewellery
Text by Kee | Photo courtesy of Chanel
The 'J12' celebrates its 20th anniversary with an all-sapphire watch
The manual-winding movement has been skeletonised for this occasion
Only 12 pieces have been made, eachj retailng for US$626,000
For the first time, a wristwatch bracelet has been created in sapphire

Purists who think they have seen everything they needed to see about the J12 – see what we did there? – they have perhaps not seen its soul. The emblematic wristwatch model by Chanel has battled long and hard to be taken seriously in the last two decades should perhaps finally be lauded for its resilience in pushing the envelope when it doesn’t really need to because, well, it’s Chanel. That said, it is still largely credited for first giving smooth and glossy ceramic wristwatches its sex appeal that we still know and love today. In celebrating its 20th anniversary, Chanel has decided to do away with that ceramic suit for this occasion and swap for an entirely transparent all-sapphire one instead, including retooling its main movement parts in that material. For the uninitiated, sapphire is one of the toughest to machine, ranking just after diamonds in hardness. What this means is that it is prone to breakage during the manufacturing process with numerous trials and errors involved before getting the desired result. Although pricey sapphire wristwatches have been successfully launched by several others (including Bell & Ross in which they own a minority stake in), this is the first time that any watchmaker has created a matching bracelet too. Each link is held together with white gold pins and screws, which is the other main material used here for the diamond-set bezel, crown, and hands. Even the hour markers are fashioned out of baguette-cut diamonds. Chanel has only made 12 pieces with each going on the eyebrow-raising side of US$626,000. Well, because you only turn 20 once.

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