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Here's how Chanel celebrated the arrival of the new J12 watch in Paris

At the dawn of its 20th anniversary, Chanel introduces a graceful evolution for the J12, one that retains its unique identity.

How do you reinvent an icon? For Chanel, they do so by looking at it with precision. When the house released the J12 in 2000 – a high-tech ceramic watch created by artistic director Jacques Helleu – it instantly became a legendary model coveted by legions of horological lovers. At the dawn of its 20th anniversary, the house introduces a graceful evolution for the J12, one that retains its unique identity.

On a sunny day in early May, Chanel unveiled the new J12, a fresh take on the much-loved watch. It now features the Calibre 12.1, a new self-winding movement manufactured exclusively for the house, as well as other modifications including a refined bezel and a redesigned typeface for numerals and indexes. What hasn't changed is its spirit and the fact that it graces the wrists of tastemakers the world over. 

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Ali McGraw, American actress and one of the 9 muses of the new J12, arrives at Place Vendôme (Photo: Chanel)


While the boutique in Rue Cambon is the brand's flagship, Place Vendome is home to the finest watches and jewellery, making it a fitting venue to celebrate the Chanel J12's 20th anniversary. This regal location also holds a large significance to the house; in fact, its rectangular shape inspired the top of the Chanel No. 5 perfume. 

The brand stripped the boutique and transformed into an ode to the iconic watch. Sunset hues permeated the space, creating the feeling of being bathed in "magic hour". Water was also omnipresent – we spotted miniature sailboats cruising on the water display, as well as both the black and white J12 models seemingly floating atop it. The inclusion of water isn't surprising given that sailing was one of the inspirations of artistic director Jacques Helleu when he created the watch. 

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Hong Kong singer and actor William Chan, the sole male muse of the new J12. (Photo: Chanel)


The roster of muses for the new J12 featured models, personalities and longtime faces of the house, namely Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Keira Knightley, Vanessa Paradis, Lily-Rose Depp, Liu Wen, Carole Bouquet, and Ali McGraw. Out of the nine muses, the house chose only one male, William Chan, who wears the piece with panache.  

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Supermodel, producer and muse of the J12, Claudia Schiffer. (Photo: Chanel)


Life is a succession of seconds – some are ordinary, others are life-changing. This idea fuels the new J12 campaign, which cements the fact that it is a watch made to accompany its wearer for every second of the day. Each of the muses was asked to share a "decisive second" in their life. For Claudia Schiffer, that moment was when she was approached by a model scout in a discotheque in Dusseldorf in 1987. “I nearly said no, thank god I said yes,” she quipped in the campaign video.

We got the chance to sit down with Schiffer in Paris, and we asked her quickfire questions about the seconds in her life. What does she do the moment she wakes up? “I wake up the rest of the family, that’s around 7 am,” she answered with a smile. And her favourite second of the day? “That time after dinner, when we play cards and backgammon before everyone goes to bed.”


To end the evening, all of us walked across Place Vendome to the Ritz Paris for an exclusive dinner in a grand dining room. Alongside F. Scott Fitzgerald and Marcel Proust, Coco Chanel considered the Ritz her second home, and the intimate gathering was a great way to immerse ourselves in her world, even just for a second. 

A version of this story first appeared on Singapore Tatler.

Source: CNA/ds


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