The Chanel Mademoiselle Privé Bouton simply cannot be placed in one product category, as it comprises cuff-styled secret watches that, to untrained eyes, look like pieces of jewellery. That is the whole point of secret watches – to look like something other than a timepiece. Secret watches are a creation of great historical significance that can be traced back to the era when it was considered impolite to be checking the time. Additionally, as women’s attire did not allow for the ease of carrying of pocket watches (women’s clothing in the West did not have pockets – Ed), something had to be done to incorporate a very small and discreet time-telling capability into everyday jewellery such as pendants, brooches, bracelets or even rings.
In contemporary times, few watch brands offer secret watches, and most of them are too embellished to be worn in less formal or daytime settings. Enter Chanel with their brand new Mademoiselle Privé Bouton: a collection of seven watches, two of them high jewellery pieces.
Let’s take a closer look at the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Perle – the main staple of the collection. Measuring 3.5 centimetres wide, this black tweed cuff features a golden calfskin trim and black calfskin lining to form the foundation of the watch. Once wrapped around the wrist, the watch is secured by way of a large button whose half white Australian cultured pearl opens to reveal a white gold dial where the hour and the minute hands indicate the time against a backdrop of 142 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Followers of Chanel readily appreciate that there is more to the button, as it is a celebrated element on Chanel suits. Originally, Gabrielle Chanel took inspiration from military clothing and sailors’ uniforms and integrated the ideas into her suits with a wide variety of ornamental designs.
As a tribute to that practice and to showcase craftsmanship, the maison’s designers decided to execute emblematic symbols on the button of four limited edition watch models, including a carved gold lion on the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Lion (55 pieces), a camellia of diamonds on the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Camelia (55 pieces), a Byzantine motif of diamonds on the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Byzantine (five pieces) and a likeness of Gabrielle Chanel herself in agate on the Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Camée (five pieces).
The collection is made complete by two high jewellery watches. Here, the 3.5 centimetres wide cuffs are rigid as they are made of white gold. The five-piece edition of Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Ganse de Diamant has a black coating all over, a button of half white Australian cultured pearl and 316 brilliant-cut diamonds on the yellow gold ganse. The total weight of diamonds used on all components of this watch is approximately 4.87 carats.
A unique piece, Mademoiselle Privé Bouton Serti Neige marks the pinnacle of this line-up, dazzling everyone with a snow setting of 1,963 brilliant-cut diamonds on the cuff and, of course, 316 more diamonds on the yellow gold ganse. Its Byzantine motif button is formed with a combination of cushion-cut and pear-cut diamonds. The total weight is a whopping 45.10 carats.