The Première watch by Chanel has had a renaissance with the arrival of a whole new collection. At first glance, it looks like not much has changed. But try one on and it is apparent that a careful redesign and delicate tweaking of the original has taken place.
The new models in steel or yellow gold are slimmer and have slightly different proportions to the original, which launched 26 years ago as the French couture house's very first watch. In fact, it was one of the first watches launched by any couture house, hence its name, Première.
Talking to the Director of Watches at Chanel, Nicholas Beau, he tells me that "everything and nothing has changed" for the Première. The original Première was inspired by the octagonal shape of the stopper on the No 5 perfume bottle, which in turn was inspired by the shape of Place Vendôme. Visiting Gabrielle Chanel's apartment, there are plenty of octagons, including a large, ornate Venetian mirror, as well as cigarette boxes given to her by the Duke of Westminster. Did these influence the No 5 bottle stopper design? Who knows, but the octagon certainly makes for a pretty watch shape.
With its jewel-like bracelet and petite dial, the new version, available in two sizes, is so very feminine. The links can easily be taken out or added in thanks to little openings in each link, which means you can wear it as loose or as snug as you choose. The fully diamond-set version even has diamonds all the way around the back of the bracelet: sheer indulgence. Try one on and you will question why you ever wore a clunky, oversized watch.