The luxury house has teamed up with Swiss fine timepiece firm Audemars Piguet to create a new movement for an exclusive version of its best-selling J12 wristwatch that will be introduced at retail in September.
Called J12 Calibre 3125, a reference to the Audemars movement it uses, the watch riffs on the stylistic hallmarks of Chanel's existing J12 model by coming in black ceramic and yellow gold. It boasts a 42 mm. face and an expected retail price of around 19,000 euros, or $28,080 at current exchange.
"We share many of the same values as Audemars Piguet," said Philippe Mougenot, president of Chanel's watch and jewelry division. "We are both family owned, independent houses with a shared passion for quality and excellence. We don't usually do partnerships at Chanel. This is a first."
Mougenot said the collaboration came naturally after the two firms consulted about Audemars furnishing a new movement for a Chanel watch.
"Often companies don't publicize who makes the movement," said Mougenot. "But we wanted a transparent approach."
Mougenot, who unveiled the watch alongside Georges-Henri Meylan, who runs Audemars, said the collaboration was meant to be a long one, with other products to follow.
"It's not a limited edition," he said of the watch, of which a few hundred are expected to be made at first. "It's limited production." Though Mougenot stressed the partnership was not meant as a ploy to bring Chanel more "legitimacy" in the fine watchmaking arena, in which it already has had great success, he admitted the watch was designed to target serious male watch collectors.
Fine Swiss watches have been booming over the last few years, spurred by a largely male clientele. Brands like Audemars, one of the top-shelf names in the industry — and one of the few that makes its own movements — have profited greatly. Meylan, for instance, said 2007 was a "record" year for the firm, underscoring the positive momentum for brands skewed to the high end. Audemars produced 27,500 pieces last year.