Chanel's new collection of 'Sous le Signe du Lion' high jewellery, launched earlier this year, focuses on Gabrielle Chanel's beloved lion, both her birth sign and the symbol of Venice - the city that inspired much of her work with its rich colours and byzantine art and architecture.
Amongst the dazzling jewels that, with long ropes of pearls, roaring golden lions and diamond-set felines, ooze self-confidence, there are four watches. Working the full-maned, roaring lion into jewels is a challenge, but incorporating this animal into watches is a brave move. But the four lion watches and desk clock have made a grand entrance, and each echoes a theme from the jewellery collection.
The 'Lion Vénitien' is a secret watch. The diamond-encrusted head of a lion slides to one side to reveal a hidden dial. Move it back and the watch becomes a jewel: an elegant bracelet on a black satin strap. The 'Miol Mosaique' watch takes the form of a cuff bracelet that wraps diamonds all the way round the wrist. The lion's head nuzzles up next to the dial, as if protecting its precious charge of 1,532 diamonds.
'Lion Astrale' strings a diamond lion's head between two dainty rows of diamonds and is as much a jewel as a watch. But my favourite of them all is the 'Constellation du Lion', which features a star, one of the symbols that Gabrielle Chanel used in her 1932 collection of diamond jewels. A lion carved out of rock crystal pounces on the diamond-set star, creating a dramatic scene. It's like no other watch I have ever seen before. Matched in audacity is the desk clock with a lion carved out of rock crystal with diamond highlights, possessively placing a paw over a diamond-set octagonal clock. I think you have to agree, this is a clock that packs a roar.