Première, which means ‘first’ in French, is the name of Chanel’s first watch. Created in October of 1987, the timepiece was imagined with thought and inspiration from art and the house’s archives.
Essaying time with irresistible allure, the original Première watch had an octagonal case held by a chain. The case of the watch resembled the design of the timeless Place Vendôme from an aerial view. It also evoked the shape of the Chanel N°5 perfume bottle stopper. As for the significance of the chain bracelet, the usage goes way back to the birth of Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel’s iconic 2.55 bag. The metal handles used to hold the bag were inspired by the waist chains of the caretakers in the orphanage Coco Chanel grew up in.
In 2016, Chanel introduced the Calibre 1, its first Haute Horlogerie movement conceived in-house. The following year, in celebration of the Première watch turning 30, Chanel introduced its second movement and updated the house’s first watch with a touch of Coco Chanel’s favourite Camellia. Today, Chanel has watches such as J12, Boy·Friend, Code Coco to its name, but the Première marks the beginning of all the watches and horological landmarks that were to follow.
Below are three versions of the Chanel Première we love.
Made from gold-plated stainless steel, this Quartz Première watch has a case diameter of 20 mm which is held by two leather weaved chains. The black dial is free of hour markers and houses just ‘CHANEL’, ‘SWISS’ and two hands with rounded tips.
This version of the Première has a demure appeal. It comes in stainless steel with a precious Mother of Pearl dial set with steel indicators. The signature case is held by a chain bracelet looped with white leather.
A creation to treasure as both a timepiece and as a piece of fine jewelry is this glitzy Première. It is sculpted faultlessly in 18K yellow gold and beautified with 56 sparkling diamonds on the bezel. The Quartz wonder is complete with a chain bracelet sans leather.
Although the watchmaking world is powered by watches for men, Chanel’s first-ever timepiece was designed specifically for women, and it did not have a common round case. In more ways than one, the Chanel Première watch has been and still is the perfect opening act to the French Maison’s ongoing horology movement.