Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel never designed a watch, but if she had there’s every chance she’d have dreamed up the Chanel Première long before it was created, in 1987, by Jacques Helleu, the house’s then artistic director. One imagines Chanel standing on the balcony of her suite at the Ritz Paris, where she was a guest for some34 years, admiring the Place Vendôme below.
The octagonal architecture, built at the instruction of Louis XIV, inspired the crystal stopper of Chanel’s beloved N°5 perfume, a visual motif that is repeated in the watch’s black-lacquer dial. The gold chain bracelet, laced with a calfskin ribbon, is an ode to the double-chain straps of Chanel’s handbags. Sleek and harmonious, the Première was the brand’s first timepiece and it was the first time a luxury house had designed a watch just for women (rather than adapting an existing design). Soon to be re-released, the latest incarnation remains true to the design codes of the house’s founder, though a new clasp and scratch-resistant coating mark it as new — a premiere in all senses.