On the button: Chanel's perfectly hidden timepiece

The ‘Mademoiselle Privé Bouton’ watch is everything but off the cuff

‘Mademoiselle Privé Bouton’ watch by Chanel
‘Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Lion’ watch in yellow gold, diamonds and tweed by Chanel Haute Horlogerie. Fashion: Jason Hughes
(Image credit: Oskar Proctor)

Gabrielle Chanel breathed new life into women’s fashion thanks to her fascination with traditionally male accoutrements such as military uniforms and tweed. She was just as enthralled by buttons, rescuing them from their mundane functionality and transforming them into adornments in their own right. ‘She shined a spotlight on a commonplace household object and raised it to the status of jewellery. She saw it as an artistic medium in itself, yet one that absolutely still had to serve its intended function,’ says Arnaud Chastaingt, director of watchmaking at Chanel.

Here, the ubiquitous black tweed, interwoven with gold thread, forms the cuff of the ‘Mademoiselle Privé Bouton’ watch. In a clever design tweak, the button is not only a chic cover for the dial, but also secures the cuff to the wrist. Five variations of the jewelled button – including the pearl, a camellia, a byzantine cross and an agate cameo – each reference one of Gabrielle Chanel’s personality quirks; the lion, pictured, nods to the superstitious designer’s zodiac sign, Leo.

‘You cannot see the watch at first glance,’ says Chastaingt. ‘It has the taste to only show itself in secret. A button in gold, pearl and diamonds. Style first, then time.’



This article originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of Wallpaper* (W*258). Download the latest issue free here

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels. 

With contributions from