Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Chanel J12 XS Watch: Little Wonder

The new Chanel J12 XS watch collection is small on size but big on style.

Oct 29, 2016 | By Celine Yap

How many ways can there be to wear a watch? Plenty, if you ask Chanel. And it’s not the insouciance talking. With the J12 XS, there literally are numerous ways to strap it on. Shedding much new perspective on the idea of wearable time, the French maison capitalised on its knack for fashion to offer the stylish set time as defined by Chanel.

Designed by the late Jacques Helleu, who was artistic director of Chanel for more than 40 years, the J12 has been around long enough to be identified but still has a long way to go before the watch collecting cognoscenti would accord it the recognition it seeks. That the horological purist hesitates to pick it up isn’t something that fazes the J12 because it knows that its place is among the fashion falcons of the world. Indeed, the J12 is practically worshipped in those circles, and for good reason.

This elegant timepiece with a fluted bezel and clean, contemporary dial was one of the first to embrace high-tech ceramic as a material for cases and bracelets. Indeed, brilliant polished ceramic in either black or white defined the look for Chanel timepieces, giving way to additional future variations like metallized ceramic as seen in the J12 Chromatic.


Whether quartz-powered or mechanical, the J12 exists in a multitude of sizes, from 29mm to 47mm in the J12 Retrograde Mysterieuse Tourbillon. These days, when the sensibilities of watchmaking have taken a turn towards more humble proportions, Chanel doesn’t miss a beat. In fact, it leapfrogged over all the major luxury watch companies and made a super-downsized version of the J12 named, aptly, the J12 XS. Measuring just 19mm across, the J12 XS may not be a heavyweight; rarely are the fashion-conscious. But what it lacks in heft, it makes up for in creativity.


Those eager to complete their Chanel ensemble can look forward to four references in either a black or white slim patent leather calfskin strap, which is to be worn over a matte calfskin cuff with silver piping. But when the mood strikes, feel free to go for the biker chic look by pairing the watch with those black lambskin fingerless gloves made especially for the J12 XS by luxury glove maker, Maison Causse – what better way to channel your inner Lagerfeld?


You could also choose to make a big, bold fashion statement literally by wearing the extra-small timepiece on a dazzling extra-large cuff that even the blind would not miss. Or if you’re feeling quixotic, how about the J12 XS high jewelry ring that’s even more adorkable than Zooey Deschanel at her perkiest.


But the Maison is not content to stop here. Further collaborations with Maison Causse, and the French couture embroiderer, Maison Lesage, are primed to seduce your wrists. They include long gloves, hand-embroidered cuffs, and cuffs adorned with sequins and glass beads simulating python, alligator, and shagreen leather. These will be unique pieces in either black or white – the Maison Chanel’s spiritual colors.

This story was first published in World of Watches.

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