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Chanel's newest women's watch might not be 'new' per se – it's a reimagining of the French maison's 'modern classic' 2000 issue – but this is an instance when we're happy to see history repeat itself.
Going under the nondescript model number of J12, this was Chanel’s very first sports watch, inspired by the world of sailing and issued in a chic choice of black or white ceramic.
It quickly became one of Chanel’s best-selling woman’s watches, making it an odd decision for Chanel to wind down the series... which brings us to 2019 and the welcome return of the J12.
Once again offered in black ceramic along with a lighter, more casual-looking white ceramic version, it's an appealing package combining sharp lines and soft edges with visceral flair.
Chanel has exercised genuine restraint and maturity in design: while clearly a high-end mechanical timepiece it refuses to shout out its presence or pedigree, preferring elegance over extravagance.
The J12's very contemporary look fits perfectly with the vibe of a modern ladies’ sport watch.
The white version is especially charismatic...
... while the black variant is a bit more subtle and serious.
Both benefit from the shine of the lacquer dial and elongated Arabic numeral typography.
Chanel will also offer the J12 in 'Phantom' variants with black-on-black or white-on-white dial and bezel numerals...
... and versions where the hour indicators are 0.09-carat diamonds.
At 38mm in diameter, the J12 is perfectly suited to a smaller wrist size while still retaining presence.
Inside that chic ceramic shell is an automatic chronometer-certified movement with a very respectable 70-hour power reserve.
There's a certain beautiful duality with the Chanel J12 that seems to be missing from many other ladies’ watches.
I tend to find a lot of well-made watches veer either towards being too dressy or too casual, but the J12 really is a 'best of both worlds' effort which can very easily be dressed up or down.
The contrast between the J12 genuinely being a solid-performing mechanical chronometer and what can be considered a high-end ladies’ sports watch is perhaps one of its greatest attributes, and Chanel has done well to bring all of these wonderful characteristics together in a modern, purposeful and very wearable package.
The Chanel J12 will be available in Australia near the end of May; local pricing as yet to be confirmed, but should start around the $10,000 mark.