Chanel your Emotions

Justin Hast in a tale of giving his beloved Patek for the Monsieur de Chanel. With only 300 in existence, this incredible watch is more than a timepiece; it's a wrist-mounted conversation starter that whispers, "Yes, I swapped a horological icon for haute couture — and I'd do it again."

Chanel your Emotions

They say that “you never actually own a Patek Philippe”. They may as well also say that “most people will never actually own a Chanel”. Not just because of the price tag or the availability but because of the regrettable lack of awareness of the incredible watchmaking going on over there. I hope that changes. And it is, slowly. With its investment as a group in FP Journe, Bell & Ross and Romain Gauthier, Chanel has leveraged its strategic position to produce some of the most extraordinary watches in the world – even with its own name on the dial. 

Now, before we go any further, I have to confess that as this watchmaking journey of mine has evolved over the years, I've come to recognise that I have become more and more of a contrarian. What really tends to excite me these days is the unusual. There is nothing more exciting than having a watch that, on first inspection, is dismissed or misunderstood. Let me introduce (or reintroduce you to), my most current obsession, the Monsieur de Chanel

Launched in 2016, the Monsieur was a quiet revelation. No screaming or shouting; it was a winner among the small group of collectors who understood what they were seeing. The Monsieur de Chanel was Chanel's first dedicated men's watch and certainly the first with complication. It's one of those watches that you really need to be an insider to understand and appreciate. It's a watch that, once you handle and inspect, particularly the view from the case back, you, too, will appreciate why I have a spot for the model. Incredibly the watch was designed and built completely in-house. It's a jumping hour retrograde with a three-day power reserve, a great profile and a stunning view from the back. The Jump Hour window is 6 o’clock (and shaped like a Chanel bottle), with retrograde minutes above and running seconds below. If you have design OCD like I do, this dial balance will bring you joy.  That’s not all; the font used was designed for the watch (wild!). What is interesting about this retrograde compared to almost all others is that it A) jumps more than 180°, and B) can actually be set going backwards. Both of these are small things, but they still show the technical approach that was taken with this watch. Oh, and it only took Chanel five years to develop!

Taking a look at the case back – there are no words! My god. Talk about movement architecture and the gentle echo of the case chape and dial through the bridges and wheels. The entirity of the Caliber 1 is droolworthy – with a beautiful central, circular bridge and star-shaped balance wheel and was designed with high-end independent watchmaker and protegé of no one short of Philippe Dufour, Mr. Romain Gauthier. Romain Gauthier was born in 1975 in Vallée de Joux and specializes in precision mechanics. To many insiders, he is the greatest kept secret in the watch world. If you haven’t come across his own creations, I strongly suggest you check the out, his finishing is generally recognised as some of the very best in the industry. 

What else do you need to know about the Monsieur de Chanel? It has a three-day power reserve from one barrel. It wears wonderfully at 40 mm wide by 10 mm thick, and it is limited to 300 pieces, 150 in both white gold and beige gold. Now the one thing I should mention is the watch that was sold to fund the Chanel – the Patek. The watch I sold was a Patek Philippe Ellipse 3738G, which to many is the quintessential Ellipse model. It's a watch that I've long loved, long admired and long lusted after. But one of the great joys of collecting is that you get an opportunity to try these things, and on occasion you recognize that it just doesn't work. Much like dating. And that's OK. This watch in particular I believe looks absolutely sensational on others but not on me – like a great pair of loafers or a jacket that work on your best mate, but not you.

It has one of the most incredibly elegant oval case shapes – instantly recognizable from across the room and twinned with arguably the most beautiful buckle which echoes that case shape. But the truth of it – having owned it for a period of time I found that the size was just a little bit too small for me personally being just shy of 6 foot and circa 100 kg’s I find that I tend to appreciate watches at 38 to 40 millimeters and I'm not one of those that prescribes the optimal size for everybody, but I certainly believe in finding sizing that works for you. And it's worth noting here that a size on paper does not always reflect a size on the wrist. I do believe in what she needs to be worn and needs to be lived in before you can fully appreciate whether it's the right fit for you and the size here was making me feel just as tad exposed. I love the fact that I owned it I love the fact that I wore it I love the fact that I now know what it was to me. I'm incredibly excited about the next chapter with the Chanel. No doubt that it will generate lots of great conversations and it's a watch that will be a vehicle for learning, which I love. Each and every watch I get the opportunity to film, photograph or own I feel deeply is  an opportunity to learn something about the people behind the manufacturing of the watch the design of the watch or the technicalities.

In this instance the designer of the movement Roman Gauthier is a man that I am very keen to get to know, as he is really one of the most incredible minds in the world of watchmaking. While he tends to keep a low profile, he has a hugely strategic importance in the industry. He also happens to be by all accounts an incredibly nice man. So there we have it folk, the Monsieur de Chanel. Next time you see a “fashion brand” on the dial – don’t whatever you do judge a book by its cover.