Chanel pulled a surprising rabbit out of its chapeau in 2016 with the presentation of its first watch for men. Although the J12 has played it both ways for decades, and the Boyfriend has certain masculine traits, the Monsieur de Chanel marked two firsts for the brand: it was explicitly conceived for men, and it was the first to receive an in-house mechanical movement. Seven years later, this gorgeous new model with a flying tourbillon joins the sublimely elegant Monsieur de Chanel models with jumping hours and retrograde minutes. Housed in a black ceramic case with a meteorite dial, the tourbillon is ferociously guarded by Gabrielle Chanel’s mascot and powered by a manual-winding manufacture movement.
round & round
The dark, brooding looks of the watch are produced by the marriage of a matte black ceramic with a dark-grey meteorite dial. Combining highly resistant black ceramic with a steel bezel, crown and caseback, the round 42mm case offers enticing views on both sides. Like the jumping hours model, the watch is marked by an “extreme circularity”. It might sound like an unusual way to describe something that is very round, but it is an apt description. Starting with the rotundity of the case, circular shapes pervade almost every detail on the dial and movement.
The sliver of grey striated meteorite selected for the dial features a series of cut-out areas. The openworked areas revealing the gear train and fleeting views of the tourbillon escapement are round; the only cut-out section that is not round is the one exposing parts of the keyless work of the crown. Two black intersecting rings forming an inverted figure-eight dominate the scenery; the larger ring is dedicated to the hours and minutes, while the smaller one is for the seconds on the tourbillon. The font used for the Arabic numerals on the top ring is very similar to the one developed especially for the jumping hours model, and the hands appear to be filled with black lacquer.
The transparent well housing the flying tourbillon is composed of two matte black rings. The outer ring, as mentioned, is for the seconds, and the internal ring rotates in time to the 60-second tourbillon and is equipped with a graphic white triangle pointer to indicate the seconds.
In pride of place guarding the tourbillon is one of legendary fashion designer Gabrielle Chanel’s favourite animals: the lion. Born under the sign of Leo, Chanel was enamoured of lions, and lion motifs were a source of endless inspiration. Her tombstone in Lausanne, which she designed, is decorated with the heads of five lions baring their teeth. Depicted in 3D, the majestic lion’s head rests on the tourbillon cage and spins in tune with the seconds.
In keeping with its dark contemporary spirit, the watch is presented on a black nylon strap with a black calfskin trim and lining and a steel triple-folding clasp.
The reverse side offers a compelling view of the beautiful manual-winding movement designed and assembled by the Chanel manufacture. As our readers know, Chanel acquired 20% of movement manufacturer Kenissi (with Tudor) in 2019, which produces movements for its J12 models and had previously invested a similar stake in F.P. Journe. But here, it’s not about these large-scale movements. The calibre of the Chanel Monsieur Tourbillon is based on the movement that was already used in the classic version with jumping hour, which was developed with the help of indie watchmaker Romain Gauthier.
The Calibre 5.1 has been modified with a flying tourbillon, and a new display has been applied with classic hours and minutes. It has a three-day power reserve thanks to a double-barrel architecture. Like the dial and case, sweeping circular shapes, including the anthracite circular bridge, are everywhere. Beautifully finished with brushed and grained surfaces, as well as chamfered spokes on the wheels, Chanel’s emblematic lion’s head appears again to the left of the escapement.
Availability & Price
The Chanel Monsieur Tourbillon Meteorite is a limited edition of 55 pieces. Price is upon request. For more information, please visit chanel.com.