An intuition of the moment, a sense of duration, the promise of eternity.
Founded in 1909, the House of CHANEL has long been synonymous with a classic simplicity that has stood the test of time. From the very first flacons of No. 5 sold only to select clients in 1919, the 2.55 bag that followed in 1929, to the tweed suits so fashion-forward in 1923 they barely got two lines of copy from reporters then, each of Coco’s ‘firsts’ for her beloved CHANEL have gone on to become recognizable icons of cult proportions.
Lesser known, but no less historic is the “Première”; the first watch created by the House in 1987. Paying homage to Place Vendôme where Coco once lived and where the CHANEL fine jewellery flagship store now stands, the rectangular shape with cut corners of the watch face also echoes the couturier’s taste for simplicity.
Admittedly, I belong to a generation that prefers to tell time via my mobile phone. How we got to become this way is a mystery to me; one moment in the ‘80s we all had some form of timekeeping device strapped across our wrists and *poof* fast forward to 2013 and we’re still loading our arms with a myriad of accessories – just that we don’t require them to tell time anymore.
I was fully convinced that this was gonna be the way for me until my first encounter with the “Première”. Honestly, I can be pretty immovable when it comes to style logic. My accessories and timekeeping devices are wholly separate issues, and somewhere in my head, I’ve convinced myself that this division is to be kept sacred thank you very much. But any how, watches (other than the huge manly ones that weigh a ton) can be accessories and accessories are fashion and fashion is fashion, and so I decided to approach this with an open mind.
Seeing the “Première” in its glass case, one step removed, is one thing, having one in your hand; laid across your wrist is another. Encased in steel, white gold or yellow gold with a mother of pearl or black lacquered dial, I was asked to put on a pair of black velvet gloves and pick out my favourite.
Suddenly the white mother of pearl dial set in a steel case with 56 of the tiniest brilliant-cut diamonds didn’t seem so foreign and mechanical to me. If you haven’t an eye for details, or aren’t so familiar with the geography of Place Vendôme, it’s quite easy to miss it entirely. But that’s where its charm truly lies – in its understated simplicity and versatility. Luxury doesn’t have to be ostentatious, and beauty exists in everything, if you look hard enough.
Over the past 26 years since its creation, the “Première” has been takehttp://fashionide.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=21&action=editn on a journey of evolutionary proportions. It had its steel chain bracelets interlaced with black leather ribbons for its 10th Anniversary in 1997, then later encrusted with baguette and brilliant-cut diamonds and strung on a cultured-pearl bracelet 10 years later on its 20th Anniversary. In 2012, CHANEL watchmaking history was made when the mechanical Flying Tourbillon was produced in collaboration with Audemars Piguet.
In spite of the myriad evolutions and interpretations of the “Première” on a linear timeline, it’s really quite impossible to place a finger on the order of their inspiration. Time is inconsequential, and each is destined to stand the test of time. It is La Montre Première.
Images & Video: Chanel