When time is of the essence

Art June 11, 2015 01:00

By THE NATION

Chanel, Dior and Ralph Lauren make the most of the past and the future in their latest watches



RALPH LAUREN has created no fewer that 11 new wristwatches for 2015, extending his trademark design elegance to themes of glamorous days and nights, equestrian heritage, automobiles and even safari adventures.

The Automotive collection is built on the powerful connection between two worlds in which precision, style and high performance are paramount. And the specific automobile Ralph Lauren has in mind is the 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe, of which only four are believed to survive.

Two watches – the RL Automotive Skeleton and the RL Automotive Chronograph – use rare hardwoods to emulate the richness of the Bugatti’s dashboard. The bezels are of amboyna burl, expertly cut and finished to expose its swirling grain patterns.

Lauren is deploying the Calibre RL1967 open-worked movement for the first time, and the Automotive Chronograph makes full use of high-precision instruments. A tachymetric scale of the sort found in cars to measure speed over given distances is on view and the bezel is calibrated in miles per hour.

The case with alternating brushed and polished finishes is secured by six bezel screws. Inside is a self-winding Calibre RL751A/1 chronograph made for Lauren by Jaeger-LeCoultre.

The RL67 Safari Chronometer collection presents with khaki-coloured camouflage dial.

The Ralph Lauren 867 collection, named in honour of the brand’s New York flagship store at 867 Madison Avenue, reflects the designer’s fascination with the splendour of Art Deco.

The Ralph Lauren 867 Tuxedo achieves a modern and powerfully feminine look in its 18K rose-gold case with open, arch-shaped attachments for the strap. The juxtaposition of black Arabic and Roman numerals on the off-white lacquered dial anchor the timepiece firmly in Deco design.

The Ralph Lauren 867 Petite Diamond adds the sumptuousness of diamonds to the restrained yet bold lines of the 867 collection. The 21.5mm 18K white-gold case is set with 289 round, brilliant-cut diamonds and 12 baguette-cut diamonds and is presented on a black suede strap.

The Ralph Lauren Stirrup continues to celebrate the world of horse riding that Lauren loves so much he named his company Polo in 1967. The timepiece is powered by the RL057 Swiss quartz calibre, decorated with vertical Cotes de Geneve, and is offered on a saddle brown calf strap with contrasting beige stitching.

Meanwhile at Dior, the watch testifies to the clothing firm’s dual haute couture and ready-to-wear culture. The Frou-frou, Envol and Cancan |are all named for a Dior dress or |collection.

The Dior VIII, in steel and gold versions, offers two facets of elegance in two sizes: a graceful 25mm and a more assertive 32mm. Both embrace “codes” from the ready-to-wear runway. |Pink and blue escape from buttoned cape coats to the sapphires on the Dior VIII Baguette, while sparkling diamonds recall luminous embroidery. Straps of white leather are adorned with piping in peach rubber, while plum leather straps are trimmed with blue rubber.

More pop in style, La D de Dior, with its candy-like 19mm diameter, chooses a tone-on-tone lizard strap for versions with sapphire, ruby or emerald bezels.

For evenings, the Dior Grand Soir Frou-frou 33mm watches are a nod to the dressmaker’s atelier, while the Dior VIII Grand Bal resuscitates legendary society balls of the late 1940s where the jet-set gathered.

Equipped with an oscillating weight on the dial, the Dior VIII Grand Bal Cancan reproduces the frills and flounces of a Hollywood-style feather dress. The 88 Dior VIII Grand Bal Fil d’or oozes with the sensuality of handwoven gold lacework and is scattered with diamonds.

There are 15 Dior VIII Grand Bal Piece “Envol” models, each with a futuristic dial. Scarab-beetle marquetry is set alight with every sway of the oscillating weight, white gold and coloured stones creating endlessly swirling spirals.

At this year’s Basel World Watch Fair, Chanel unveiled Les Eternelles de Chanel collection of high-jewellery watches.

The Camellia Secret is a tribute to the simple flower that Gabrielle Chanel used to such great effect. In an 18K white-gold case, the dial and bracelet are set with 2,319 brilliant-cut diamonds (41.52 carats), 12 marquise-cut diamonds (1.4), 34 baguette-cut diamonds (1.48) and a brilliant-cut diamond (0.4).

Another Chanel collection, Mademoiselle Prive, showcases her most cherished symbols and objects. In the hands of master enamellers, engravers, carvers and stone-setters, this line adds yet another chapter to Chanel’s creative saga and uncovers new ground for expressing unsurpassed skill. Included are the Mademoiselle Prive Comte, Mademoiselle Prive Camelia and Mademoiselle Prive Coromandel – Glyptic.

The J12 watch, launched in 2000, was the first to transform hi-tech ceramic into a precious material. In 2011 Chanel innovated further in creating a bracelet of titanium ceramic with constantly changing colours.

Now, 15 years after its creation, the watch the subject of a tribute – the J12 White – with three new hues on the bezel: light blue, soft pink and mint green. This is a limited edition of just 1,200 pieces.

The J12 Haute Horlogerie has a tourbillon stylised to represent a comet, whirling about as if weightless. The tourbillon, which has no upper bridge, is the result of collaboration between Chanel and Swiss master watchmakers Renaud and Papi.