The Chanel Premiere Flying Tourbillon for Only Watch is a re-worked unique edition of the watch which won the "Ladies Watch" category at the 2012 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève, the icing on the cake for the brand as last year also marked their 25th anniversary of watchmaking.
In a comparatively short space of time, Chanel have amassed a wealth of horological achievements proving their desire that theproducts of their watchmaking department should be taken seriously by both the industry and their customers, and are not just baubles to be added to their accessory departments unlike some of the other watches by designers, or is it designer watches?
Collaborations with Audemars Piguet and Renaud & Papi SA have produced complex models and their research and development into ceramic has set new standards in this field. But - despite the technological innovations, the model which best represents the essence of the Chanel brand is still the model with which they made their watchmaking debut in 1987, the Première.
There is no doubt that Chanel's creative director, Jacques Helleu was a great designer but when he oversaw the creation of the Première he evoked the fundamentals of the brand. Face-on its profile was designed to replicate a birds-eye view of the Place Vendôme in Paris, an outline previously represented in the stopper of the most famous perfume of them all, Chanel N° 5. However it also recalls the clean-cut lines of the N° 5 "whisky decanter" styled bottle, the camélia, Chanel's emblematic flower andtherestrained elegance which turned the daughter of a laundrywoman into an icon of ladies fashion.
For this Piece Unique, 18kt white gold, black ceramic and 92 brilliant-cut diamonds combine to produce a little masterpiece in understated styling. Diamonds weighing in at 1.67 carats are used but most of them are on the case-side, those used to decorate the crown, the hands and the tourbillon serve to enhance rather than dominate. A polished black ceramic bezel heightens the pleasure of the unfussy rectangular form.
The hour and minute hands are positioned high up on the dial allowing the floating camélia-inspired tourbillon to receive priority. As it completes its one-minute revolution, its petals indicate the seconds enlivening the exquisite little sculpture.
Inside the Calibre "Camélia Flying Tourbillon" a product of Renaud & Papi (APRP SA) holds power for 40 hours, the complexity of its flying tourbillon is perhaps best emphasised by the number of its components, 73 parts - almost 1/3 of the movements collective.
My introduction to the Only Watch Auction can be found here.