Chanel's J12 Paradoxe breaks new ground in ceramic watchmaking

Celebrating 20 years of the J12 with an eye-catching new design

Chanel J12 Paradoxe
Chanel

What's black and white and ceramic all the way through? The Chanel J12 Paradoxe, that's what. This is the latest addition to the J12 family, a special edition produced to mark the 20th anniversary of the luxury brand's first ceramic watch: a design that kick-started a generation of experimentation with the material.

The J12 was initially launched in 2000 in black ceramic; three years later, a model in white ceramic followed. Now, you can buy a version that's part white, part black, created by first making a black and a white case, cutting them apart and fusing the opposing parts together. The two ceramic halves are also screwed to a steel frame for extra guarantees.

Chanel J12 Paradoxe
Chanel

The J12 Paradoxe sits alongside the even more adventurous J12 X-Ray, the first watch ever made with a sapphire case and full sapphire bracelet. Nevertheless, the Paradoxe's bi-colour construction is an impressive trick - more impressive than will be understood by casual onlookers.

Ceramic's advantages are many: scratch-resistant, hypoallergenic, thermally consistent, lightweight and six times tougher than steel. Its construction is complex, costly and time-consuming, and one of its innate characteristics is that cases made from ceramic are the same colour the whole way through, unlike watches coated with DLC or similar.

Chanel J12 Paradoxe
Chanel

Advances in ceramic expertise have come quickly in recent years; Hublot has pressed ahead with mastering the more difficult colours, while the material's use in bezels has become widespread even at relatively affordable levels. Only Rolex claims to have pulled off the trick of forging a two-colour ceramic component - the bezel on its GMT-Master II, and if you look closely enough you can still see where one colour starts to run into the next. Chanel's J12 Paradoxe promises a completely clean line where black becomes white.

The dial and bezel are not ceramic; they continue the optical illusion but on simpler terms: the bezel is printed and overlaid with a layer of sapphire, while the dial is lacquered. The construction of the case means that the watch's water resistance drops from 200m to 50m but otherwise, it is identical to a regular J12.

Inside it continues to use Chanel's Calibre 12.1, a movement derived from Tudor's in-house calibres and produced at the Kenissi factory which the two brands own together. That means 70 hours power reserve and certified chronometer status.

Chanel J12 Paradoxe
Chanel

In addition to the black and white Paradoxe, Chanel is also producing a limited edition Paradoxe in black ceramic and white gold, fully set with baguette cut diamonds. Both watches measure 38mm across and will be available from this summer.


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