Chanel reissues its first iconic watch to mark its 35th anniversary – WWD

PARIS – On the occasion of the 35th anniversary of its first timepiece and the starting point of its watchmaking division, Chanel unveils the Première Original Edition reissue.

“La Première was the first page of our watchmaking history. It was born out of absolute creative freedom”, declared Arnaud Chastaingt, director of the Chanel watch design studio, who wanted the Première watch to “regain its place and put it at the heart of [the house’s] collection” because it represents its “DNA and a Chanel code from start to finish”.

Launched in 1987, the original design was dreamed up by the late art director of four decades Jacques Helleu, who wanted it strong, unique and “an eternal reference”, he would later say, according to the volume of Thames & Hudson on Chanel watches.

“Much more than a watch, the [Première concept] is a lesson in style,” Chastaingt said of this pairing of an octagonal watch case inspired by the stopper of the brand’s best-selling No. 5 perfume, itself inspired by Place Vendôme, with the leather strap and chain intertwined with her handbags.

Its bracelet-like form factor, with hands floating on a black lacquer dial without numerals and set in a gold case, would contribute to the critical reception and lasting success of the watch, although it was only available only in three variants.

The creation of Première led to the opening of the first two Chanel boutiques dedicated to watchmaking the same year, avenue Montaigne in Paris and tony Rue du Rhône in Geneva.

Inès de la Fressange pictured wearing the original Chanel Première watch in 1987.

Karl Lagerfeld/Courtesy of Chanel

Photographed by Guy Bourdin and Karl Lagerfeld, worn by then house ambassador Inès de la Fressange, before being regularly spotted on Claudia Schiffer’s mannequins at Soo-Joo Park, the model became a must-have until its retired in the early 2000s, overtaken in popularity by another Helleu creation, the sportier J12 model – also reworked by Chastaingt, in 2019.

For its 2022 incarnation, Chastaingt wanted to keep the spirit and aesthetics of this model by reworking “little details” to distinguish the initial Helleu design from its Original Edition descendant while keeping the new version “true to itself”. .

Among the updates are technical evolutions of the clasp and the gold plating, now also in a softer shade of gold, chosen to match the current color of those of the house’s famous handbags, which it also highlighted as blending harmoniously with jewelry designs in yellow. and exclusive “beige” golds.

Released on October 1, the Original First Edition is priced at 5,500 euros and will be available in Chanel stores worldwide.

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