To design its latest wrist candy, the house of Chanel turned to its founder’s favorite blossom for inspiration.
The camellia is one of the most recognizable Chanel symbols and something of a personal talisman for Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel herself. Its mythic status within the couture label made it the ideal jumping-off point for a timepiece that beautifully bridges the gap between timekeeper and fine jewelry. The resulting horological looker is the Première Extrait De Camélia that comes in two slick variations.
Both are constructed with a gleaming 18-karat yellow gold case and titanium caseback (shaped into an octagonal silhouette mirroring the faceted cap of the brand’s No. 5 fragrance). But it’s the dial that truly sets the pair apart. The more minimal of the two maintains a dark palette thanks to its black lacquer dial. Its more glamorous twin is set with 116 brilliant-cut diamonds totaling 0.37 carats. Neither has traditional indexes to mark the hours or minutes, but both are accessorized with a coordinating 18-karat gold camellia charm spattered with diamonds.
Internally, both operate with the aid of a precision quartz movement and are water-resistant up to 30 meters. Each one is secured via a durable rubber strap with a velvet finish for the maximum softness of touch.
There’s no universally agreed upon theory as to why camellias became so ensconced in Chanel’s design canon. House historians believe it could be due to the titular role they played in Sarah Bernhardt’s lead performance of The Lady of the Camellias, a play Chanel reportedly saw as a 13-year-old. It didn’t take long for the designer to begin incorporating them into everything from her clothing to her packaging once she founded her business, and they’ve remained integral to the Chanel identity ever since.
Each version of Chanel’s Première Extrait De Camélia is limited to 1,000 pieces with the black lacquer version available for $7,100 and the diamond-encrusted version for $14,200.