When the house of Chanel feted its 30th anniversary of watchmaking last year, it seemed fitting to mark the occasion with a timepiece that embodied its namesake founder, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, and her inimitable legacy. Christened Code Coco, the original was deemed “the most ‘Chanel’ watch we have ever designed” by Frédéric Grangié, Chanel’s president of watches & fine jewellery, for all its signature brand elements — from the quilted embossing to a fastening reminiscent of the 2.55 clasp.
The latter is no mere ornament: Like the handbag, the familiar Mademoiselle Lock twists open to unclasp the bracelet, in place of the conventional buckle. Left undone and laid to rest, Code Coco is an elegant spectacle, not just a watch but a piece of jewellery too.
It is embellished with diamonds — in tribute to Gabrielle’s profound love for the gems — whether as a subtle, singular princess-cut stone on its inky lacquered dial, or in the form of 52 brilliant-cut diamonds set along the steel bezel. The original was also offered in a high jewellery iteration of 18k white gold, and showered with 524 stones set on the bracelet, clasp, bezel, lock and dial.
This year’s novelty sees the Code Coco offered in high-tech ceramic in midnight black. Introduced on the J12 in 2000, high-tech ceramic is notoriously difficult to engineer despite technical benefits it conveys. Extremely resistant to scratch, the ultra-lightweight material is among the hardest of materials, bestowing great durability (unlike the delicate ceramic in pottery and cookware). Also laborious to achieve is the lustrous, polished finishing of high-tech ceramic, precisely because of the latter’s hardness and extreme resistance to heat. The material, after all, can also be found in jet turbines and disc brakes.
The jet-black sensibility of the new Code Coco stays true to Chanel’s signature monochromatic aesthetic, of which Gabrielle once mused, “Black had everything. White too. They have an absolute beauty. It’s the perfect match.” Like the original, this Code Coco flaunts two dials — one to display time and the other to showcase a princess cut diamond — separated by the iconic Mademoiselle Lock. Driven by a high-precision quartz movement, it still houses a steel bezel, unadorned or set with 52 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Accompanying the new launch is a black-and-white campaign shot at the Hotel Ritz Paris, which Gabrielle once called home. Starring models Alice Dellal and Soo Joo Park, ballerina Nozomi Iijima and actress-singer Alma Jodorowsky, the light-hearted campaign shows the women lounging about the estate in various cheeky situations. From blending in among chefs in a busy kitchen, newspaper in hand and indulging in hors d’oeuvre, to reading nonchalantly by the foot of a reception desk, the ladies evoke the rebellious streak and effortless chic embodied by Gabrielle.