The sporty Chanel J12 Moonphase (ref. H3406) ladies watch was first presented almost half a year ago at Baselworld 2013 trade show. Now, just in time for holidays season (however a bit marred by US government shutdown), the watch comes to select stores and
exclusive boutiques around the world.
The Chanel J12 series has been here for a while. In fact, the ceramic watch proved to be so popular that it has even become a source of inspiration to serious brands that tried (not always quite successfully) to imitate it to get their share of the market.
If it works, don’t touch it! Guys at Chanel probably have known the proverb, so they left main elements of the watch in place (namely, the railway-style minute track, the slender Arabic numerals and the thin notched ring of polished steel that surrounds the glossy ceramic bezel) and gently added only those elements that were necessary for a simple three-hander to become a finely crafted complication watch.
As you can see, gone is the calendar aperture, which is now replaced with a more traditional central hand that indicates current date on the bezel flange. The Arabic 5, 6 and 7 numerals were sacrificed for the slightly over-sized moonphase display that features a dark blue Aventurine sky disk with four moons in their different phases and a serpentine indicator done in polished stainless steel. The diving scale on the bezel was also removed, which is great, since without this absolutely unnecessary element the timekeeper looks even lighter.
All new elements of the dial are delicately balanced to the old ones and, as a result, the watch looks even more appealing than the original.
Chanel doesn’t say a word about the caliber that powers the J12 Moonphase, but this is probably one of ETA’s current self-winding movements with an add-on moon-phase and simple calendar module sitting atop of it.
(Well, I have finally managed to dig out some more precise specs and it looks like an ETA 2824-based movement with an “exclusive” Dubois Depraz moonphase module that is indeed mounted on the base caliber. Although the choice of mechanism isn’t really impressive for a piece that costs around €6600, it is still somewhat relieving to know that the movement is actually a robust and reliable job made by a major producer of readymade mechanisms.)
If course, it was supposed to be fairly expensive. According to industry sources, Chanel plans to sell it at $8900 (around €6600 at current exchange rate), but, given the material that the watch is crafted from, the price doesn’t seem to be that high.
If you can afford one, it is an absolute must have.
I feel obliged to warn you though that although on paper its 38 millimeter ceramic body doesn’t look too large, it is in fact quite massive. The promotional photos that you may find on the internet seem to be a bit misleading since they certainly feature models that were specifically chosen to match the timekeeper’s girth. A normal lady with delicate features and thinner wrists may feel not particularly comfortable wearing this device, especially if she is more used to the usual breed of timepieces that measure from 30 to 33 mm in diameter.
WWR preliminary verdict:
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Chanel J12 Moonphase (ref. H3406) specification
Price: $8900 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Swiss Made
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, moonphase
Case material: Black ceramic (also available in white)
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case size: 38.00 mm
Hands: Stick-shaped, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black ceramic bracelet with steel triple folding buckle