Chanel Code Coco
‘Code’ – an enigmatic system of symbols? Or streams of computer data? In Chanel’s horological universe, it’s a mischievous mix of both. The brand’s most recent watch design, Code Coco, toys with the visual signs of the maison’s own history, as well as today’s plugged-in planet. An everyday bracelet, the geometric grid design evokes the classic quilted motif Gabrielle Coco Chanel developed in 1955 as well as a stream of computer pixels. Industrial yet elegant, it also harbours a secret: an exact miniature of the clasp of Chanel’s ‘2.55’ bag, which can be twisted across the dial, hiding it in the process.
These subtle details are heightened with the launch of the Code Coco black ceramic. The material is notoriously difficult to work with and the bracelet was a real challenge. ‘It comprises tiny squares of superhard ceramic,’ says Nicolas Beau, Chanel’s international watch and jewellery director. ‘If we placed them too close together, there was a chance they would crack. It’s ironic, perhaps, that ceramic is so very comfortable, warm and soft to wear – perfect for a bracelet design.’
The Code Coco is a worthy addition to Chanel’s short but audacious watchmaking history (the brand launched its first watch in 1987, and its first high-tech ceramic watch, the J12, in 2000). This year, it also reveals another in-house movement, the Calibre 3, with unusual, smooth, spokeless wheels. ‘Our designers are not watchmakers, they are watch lovers,’ says Beau of the French maison’s stylistic approach. ‘They don’t have a traditional design mindset.’ Proof that you need to break a code to tap into a new language. As originally featured in Precious Index, our Watches & Jewellery supplement (see W*230)
Photography: James Robjant. Writer: Caragh McKay