La Chaux-de-Fonds, a high-end watchmaking town in Switzerland, is quietly hidden in the valley of Ru in the southwestern part of Switzerland. To get here, whether from Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchâtel or Bill, you have to cross the mountains and travel between the fields and the valleys. In this almost one and a half hour drive, no matter how hard I was, I often didn’t want to fall asleep and always stared at the beautiful scenery passing by the window. It is white in winter and covered with silver; in summer, it is full of green and clear. And at the turn of spring and summer, yellow and canola fields of rapeseed looked radiant.
In the past 12 years, I can’t remember how many times I visited La Chaux-de-Fon, because there are countless watch factories here, and some have a long history of more than 100 years, or even more than 200 years. A sudden rise, each leading.
Not long ago, Chen Weiting and Liu Wen visited this place together, the destination is the Chanel watch factory G & F Châtelain.
There are several important points in the history of Chanel’s fine watchmaking. First, in 1987, Chanel launched the brand’s first watch series PREMIÈRE, which at the time relied on Châtelain’s expertise in case, bracelet manufacturing and gem setting. With the business gradually expanding, in 1993, Chanel decided to acquire Châtelain, but just like Chanel’s acquisition of many workshops to create high-end custom dresses-embroidery, buttons, feathers, pleats … Châtelain still operates as an independent watch factory model. Continue its autonomy with other businesses.
G & F Châtelain SA was founded by Georges and Francis Châtelain in 1947. After more than 70 years, G & F Châtelain SA has developed into a top local watch factory with 350 employees. It combines traditional watchmaking technology with contemporary high-end technology to undertake high-end watches in all aspects Manufacturing, all watchmaking procedures are completed in a 18,000 square meter workshop.
With the Châtelain watch factory as the backing, Chanel launched the J12 watch which will become a classic in the 2000 millennium. Now everyone is familiar with the J12, and it has a high degree of recognition, but when it was launched, this watch was still a bit shocking. Made of precision ceramics, unisex, wearable for both men and women, exudes a mysterious black luster, and is waterproof to 200 meters.
Precision ceramic bracelet
Precision ceramics are not new materials in the watch industry, but Chanel is bringing precision ceramics to the fashion stage, and the J12 watch has become a pioneer widely accepted by consumers. The birth of J12 made precision ceramics a widely used material and set off a whirlwind in ceramic watches. It inspired the design inspiration of all major brands in the field of ceramic watches and is a model in the field of watchmaking. In order to formulate the mysterious black of ceramics, and later introduced pure and elegant white in 2003, it took a lot of effort to develop the black and white, which has always been highly respected, leading the new trend of watch design. It is the new classic of 21st century watches, and it opens a new chapter for modern watchmaking.
Precision ceramic production process chart
Precision ceramics are extremely ideal watchmaking materials. They are lightweight, anti-wear, anti-allergic, and do not fade, but it is not easy to burn the texture and beauty of jade, such as jade. Chanel is undoubtedly one of the best. The raw materials of ceramics are from the natural minerals zirconium dioxide and yttrium. The powder is purified with water and added with pigments. After drying, it is fired in a kiln at 1,000 ° C. After plasticity, it is carved, perforated, polished and used. The special polishing technology can finally present an extremely smooth and smooth texture, which can be described as the artistic crystal of the perfect fusion of earth, air, water and fire.
Next, J12 developed many great works. In addition to different sizes, it also equipped with chronograph, dual time, moon phase, tourbillon and other functions, becoming a watch family with a lot of choices. The most impressive one is to celebrate J12. The 10th anniversary of the J12 Rétrograde Mystérieuse. In addition to a floating tourbillon, 237 hours of extra-long power, a magic vertical adjustment crown, and a 10-minute minute hand retrograde design, it became one of the most explosive topics of the year.
After years of operation, watches have become a very important product line of the Chanel brand, and are highly sought after by fans. To reach the forefront of the first-class high-end watchmaking industry, Chanel also needs to cross a strict threshold-homemade movement. Chanel, full of ambition, is ready.
For three consecutive years since 2016, Chanel launches a self-made movement at the Basel Watch Fair each year. These movements are very distinctive, full of brand DNA, and unforgettable. The movement is engraved with a lion pattern, which is the mark of Chanel’s own movement. As for the watches equipped with these three movements, two of them have won the Geneva Watch Award (GPHG), which is known as the ‘Oscar in the Watch Industry’. The achievements are impressive.
Calibre 1 is on the Monsieur de Chanel watch. This is the brand’s first collection exclusively for men, with two complex functions: hourly jump and minute hand retrograde. The main splint of the movement is hollowed out, coupled with the ring-shaped bridge of the balance wheel and many circular gears. The layers overlap and are treated with ADLC coating to show a mysterious black tone.
Calibre 2 is mounted on the Camellia skeleton watch of the Premiere series. The highlights are the hollow-out process and the iconic camellia element. The movement bridge is presented in a completely hollowed out posture, and a 3D three-dimensional camellia is constructed, which is highly visually ornamental. This watch won the 2017 Women’s Watch of the Year award at the Geneva Watch Awards.
Calibre3 is mounted on the Boy · Friend watch. The skeletonized movement is suspended in an octagonal beige gold case, showing a series of interconnected, intersecting, geometrically symmetrical circles from top to bottom. The movement can be appreciated from the front and back. This watch also won the Best Women’s Watch of the Year at the Geneva Watch Awards 2018.
In addition to these unique homemade movements, Chanel has also been looking for a basic movement that is more in line with the brand’s own positioning and more reliable sources, that is, the Caliber 12.1 automatic mechanical movement mounted on the newly remodeled J12 watch. .
Chanel new J12
Most of the former J12 case backs were made of stainless steel. The new J12 watch movement introduced this year is so beautiful that it is justified if you don’t let everyone appreciate it. This movement comes from the Kenissi movement factory. For better cooperation, Chanel has also acquired some shares of this movement and parts manufacturer that will be moved to Le Locle.
Caliber 12.1 has hour, minute, second, and date display functions, stop-seconds device, calendar flash, 28,800 vibrations per hour, two-way automatic winding, a single barrel, 70 hours power reserve, and has been certified by the Swiss Official Observatory (COSC). This movement is exclusive to Chanel and is completely in line with Chanel style.
From the brand’s home-made movements Caliber 1, Caliber 2, Caliber 3, we will find that there are many circular geometric structures, which is a unique feature of Chanel fine watchmaking. Therefore, the automatic oscillating weight of Caliber 12.1 has also been hollowed out into a circle. In this way, the beauty of the movement can be presented to the watch fans to the maximum. To solve the problem of the automatic oscillating weight reduction caused by the hollowing out, Tungsten metal is added to the oscillating weight, which realizes a back-through design while maintaining effective winding power.
For legends to last, we must continue to interpret and innovate. After 20 years of hot sales, the model J12 in the field of watchmaking welcomes a change this year. The new watches are more compact and spiritual, both beautiful and durable. The new movement built makes the charm of J12 come from the inside.
At the Châtelain factory, Chen Weiting and Liu Wen, the two ambassadors of Chanel watches, felt how a watch took shape from scratch. With the assistance of computer modeling software, the designer tested the coordinated operation of each part of the watch exactly. The carefully selected ceramic powder and pigment materials were fired in the kiln, fused and shaped, and finally appeared perfect. Flawless color luster and hardness comparable to diamonds; Jewelers inlay all kinds of cut diamonds with a magnificent magnifying glass, and inlay them one by one; watchmakers work on the work table under a large window glass to concentrate on polishing Decorate the parts, assemble and adjust the movement, put them on the case with the dial and hands, then go through various tests, and finally attach the bracelet …
It’s all about seconds, exploring the story behind the minutes. Only when we go to the watch factory to witness the entire watchmaking process in person can we truly admire and admire the fine watchmaking from the heart, because this is a magical process and a ‘pilgrimage journey’. (Text / contributing An Keqiang finishing / Echo)