Presented at the Baselworld 2014 trade fair, the Chanel J12-365 was offered in a total of eight different variations ranging from a fairly unassuming version with a glossy ceramic body and a polished notched stainless steel bezel to a lot more conspicuous variation with a “beige” gold bezel and hands and lots of diamonds to admire. Significantly smaller than its older siblings, the new version of the legendary J12 (the one that, as the saying goes, is often imitated, but never duplicated, even when the attempt is made by such a serious player as TAG Heuer with its otherwise gorgeous Formula 1 Lady Steel & Ceramic Pavee model) will still look prominent on any wrist getting you tons of attention and envious looks.
Significantly smaller than previous iterations of the watch, the new Chanel J12-365 looks like a crossover between the simplistic 2011 J12 Chromatic and a bit more complex 2013 J12 Moonphase that featured a moon disk and a circular calendar display.
Sporting the classic hours, minutes, small seconds and date displays, the new version of the timekeeper has the subsidiary seconds indicator available either in grey-on-black snailed finish or in a lot more upscale variety that features dozens of tiny diamonds neatly set on its surface. Accompanied by even more (also larger) diamonds set on the inner part of the bezel, the whole display looks extremely elegant.
As usual, the timekeeper is presented in a ceramic body, which is available both in glossy black and white, and is combined either with stainless steel or “beige” gold bezel (the fashion brand uses their own mix of metals to make this rather unusual-colored gold alloy that, judging by its color, is closer to so-called “spangold” alloys that usually include not only the usual copper but also some aluminum, that’s just a guess though).
While the basic shape and finish of the watch remain true to the whole J12 family, I must say that this new member, which is, by the way of speaking, is internationally available for more than a month now, is a bit more versatile. Given its smaller size, the accessory can now be worn with a broader choice of clothing to a broader choice of events: with its more discreet proportions, it won’t raise a lot of eyebrows, but will possibly be admired even by watch snobs that still believe that a timepiece designed for ladies should be crafted from nothing less than gold and precious stones.
Well, perhaps, the only thing that the brand could have done better is the choice of movement. Surely, this brilliant device deserves something better than an anonymous ETA clone even if it still makes the watch qualify for the legendary “Swiss Made” inscription at the lower half of the dial. Still, if you don’t care much about ingenious design solutions and all those painstakingly decorated bridges and gears, the choice of mechanism may in fact be quite adequate, since it not only allows the watchmaker a better degree of freedom when choosing a supplier of the mechanism but also makes it easier to repair or replace it if anything goes wrong.
See also: Ebel X-1 in Steel and Ceramic”
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Chanel J12-356 Ceramic specification
Price: €15,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Swiss Made
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Case: Black or White ceramic
Bezel and Crown: Stainless steel or Beige gold
Size: 36.50 mm
Dial: Black or White
Hands: Stainless steel or Beige gold
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Ceramic bracelet with a triple-folding clasp