Another Thing: Chanel’s Première Édition Originale

A celebration of the brand’s first timepiece – the first time a luxury house had designed a watch just for women.

Article by Jordan Turner

Chanel Première Édition Originale watchChanel's Première Édition Originale watch (available from Oct 1), $8,250. Photography by Jordan Turner.

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.

This is an extract from an article that appears in print in our eighth edition, Page 48 of T Australia with the headline: “Another Thing”

Another Thing: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

Celebrating its 50th birthday this year, the Royal Oak is significant not just for spearheading the integrated bracelet phenomenon, but also for showing that stainless steel could be a proposition in luxury watchmaking.

Article by Luke Benedictus

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak

On April 10, 1970, Audemars Piguet’s then-managing director, Georges Golay, made a fateful request. Calling the watch designer Gérald Genta, he asked him to dream up “a steel sports watch that has never been done before”, with the design sketch required the very next morning. Genta duly presented a radical design.

Released in 1972, the watch sat upon an integrated bracelet, a style of strap that had never been attempted before. Also unusual was the octagonal bezel that was secured to the case, the eight bolts left exposed. The textured dial was distinctive, too, consisting of hundreds of miniature truncated pyramids punctuated by diamond-shaped holes. This creation was the Royal Oak, and Genta, a man subsequently known as “the Picasso of watches”, had created an iconic design. Celebrating its 50th birthday this year, the Royal Oak is significant not just for spearheading the integrated bracelet phenomenon, but also for showing that stainless steel could be a proposition in luxury watchmaking.

In the intervening years, the Royal Oak has blossomed into a vast collection with a range of sizes, materials, colours and complications. Out of the acorn of Golay’s unexpected request, the Royal Oak continues to grow.