Profile: Chanel J12 Moonphase

The Chanel J12 Moonphase presents a dramatic new complication and poses quite a difficult question: what if Chanel plucked the moon from the skies?

Few things in nature captivate the human imagination quite like the moon. In fact, the influence of the moon on human society goes back thousands of years, stretching into the prehistoric era. Just this year, the world learned that the oldest lunar calendar had been discovered in Scotland, in an Aberdeenshire field, and it might have been created 10,000 years ago. For that society, and even for contemporary humans, the moon played a central role in its relationship with time. This explains in part why watchmaking has been paying particular attention to the phases of the moon.

We may no longer have a practical reason to personally track the phases of the moon with our wristwatches but it is still a particularly beautiful complication. The Chanel J12 Moonphase demonstrates this point and poses quite a difficult question: what if Chanel plucked the moon from the skies? Practical considerations aside, Chanel has the right idea here. It is the poetry of the moon traversing the heavens that keeps people in general looking up at night so it should translate into people looking at their watches, especially during the day!

Coco Chanel herself was quite interested in heavenly bodies, with a well-publicized astrological bent. The watch that the contemporary firm bearing her name has come up with delivers on the stylistic, technical and symbolic fronts. While Chanel has delivered the goods on all these fronts in the past, including impressive tourbillons and solid GMTs, it has kept collectors waiting for moon phase models.

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First of all, let us look at what the moon phase indicator is and what it shows. The complication is indicated via a subdial with a distinctive serpentine hand that points to one of four phases of the moon: new moon, first quarter, full moon and last quarter. If you look closely at the watch, you will notice that this subdial looks starry, for want of a better word. This is because of the deep-blue aventurine disc acting as the backdrop for the action. Joining in the poetic lunar action is the central date hand, which sports a crescent moon tip (see next page for a closer look).

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Close-up of the moonphase subdial, showing off the effect of the aventurine dial


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On the technical front, enclosed within the 38mm case, Chanel is deploying an automatic mechanical movement with 42 hours of power reserve. This is highly notable given that this is a watch for women, lending further credence to the idea (long-cherished by our own editorial team) that women are actively seeking alternatives to quartz movements.

Speaking of that case, there are six versions of the J12 Moonphase, with and without diamonds. Leading the way are four ceramic models, two in white and two in black, echoing Chanel’s trailblazing use of the material. One white and one black model feature diamond-set bezels and dials. Of special note are two models that go the extra mile with diamonds. While the fully-set 18k white gold model boasts 696 baguette diamonds, the moonphase subdial and a chapter ring along the outer dial remain unadorned. In the Chromatic (18k white gold and titanium ceramic) model, there are 554 baguette diamonds, with diamonds on the dial limited to hour markers and an inner chapter ring. These models are limited to 5 and 12 pieces respectively. In terms of water resistance, the diamond-set models are rated to 50 meters while the basic ceramic models are rated to 100 meters. All versions except the fully set ones have a central seconds display. 

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J12 Moonphase White Ceramic

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J12 Moonphase White Ceramic with Diamonds

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J12 Moonphase Black Ceramic

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J12 Moonphase Black Ceramic with Diamonds

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J12 Moonphase Chromatic with Diamonds; Limited edition of 12 pieces

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J12 Moonphase White Gold with Diamonds; Limited to 5 pieces

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