Chanel revisits its 1980s Premiere watch

Celebrating Paris Fashion Week, the house of Chanel has relaunched its iconic Première watch from the 1980s. With a campaign fronted by Soo Joo Park, the watch is set to be a new classic

By Kim Parker

Age, it seems, really is just a number. Especially in watchmaking circles. 35 years after Chanel first introduced its groundbreaking Première women’s watch, the Maison has brought it back – with a few tiny modern tweaks.

Chanel relaunched 1987 Premiere watch
Chanel’s Première watch debuted in 1987 and has been a bestseller ever since

The original Première took the horological world by storm when it launched in the late 1980s. Amidst a world of luminous-faced metallic sports watches and all-new digital timepieces which resembled calculators, the Première’s deliberately feminine styling stood it apart.

Designed by Chanel’s then-Artistic Director, Jacques Helleu, the Première featured an elegant, octagonal case shape inspired by Paris’ Place Vendôme, home to both Chanel’s flagship and the Ritz hotel, where Coco Chanel lived for 34 years – as well as the bottle stopper of the Maison’s No.5 fragrance. Its leather and metallic interlaced chain strap was a nod to the house’s famous quilted handbags, creating an indelible link between the worlds of fashion and watchmaking.

“I fought to make a design that was strong, that was unique, that – more than just launching a single collection – would become an eternal reference,” said Helleu at the time.

the new Chanel Premiere watch
The Premiere owes its sleek leather and chain strap to Chanel’s iconic quilted handbags

Today, the relaunched ‘Première Édition Originale‘ still owes much of its styling to the 1980s model – its flexible two-toned black leather and gold strap, octagonal case and bevelled glass are all intact, albeit in a slightly paler gold than the debut model.

“The Première was the first page in our watchmaking history. It was born of an absolute freedom of creation and it initiated a vision, the ‘allure of time’ as measured by Chanel. In 2022, I wanted the Premiere to find its place again and to put it at the hear of our collection….Far more than a watch, the Première is a lesson in style,” says Arnaud Chastaignt, the firm’s Director of Watchmaking Creation Studio.

And with 80s style making a roaring comeback, Chanel’s timing has never been better.

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