Chanel J12 Retrograde Mysterieuse Watch: I Can No Longer Remain Silent
I really tried to keep my mouth shut as I bit my lip each time I read about the new Chanel J12 Mysterieuse watch. The idea confused me, and I simply put it out of my mind. Then, while visiting with Chanel in Basel recently I got to see the watch in action. One of Chanel's watch makers was explaining it while using in front of a small audience who seemed as confused as me. The best thing people can say about the watch is that it is cool because the crown is on the dial. Otherwise, opinions seem scant. The watch looks like a Chanel - in a black or white ceramic case. They say that the movement is in-house, though I am not sure if it is another product of Chanel's ongoing partnership with Audemars Piguet. Regardless, that is not the point. My thoughts here concern the big question of not only "why," but of toleration. I don't know if my brain can tolerate this watch. Chanel was correct to have the "Mysterieuse" part of the name in there, because operating and reading the watch is just that - a serious mystery. And I don't think even the Hardy boys want to solve this one.
Reading about how the watch works and its operation is cause for a headache. Hearing someone speak about it makes me want to run away and dive into a high-level particle physics lecture at the closest university. Sure the J12 Retrograde Mysterieuse is complex and interesting from a mechanical standpoint, but "have they just gone too far?" I mean really, at what point is a device so distastefully complex that you shudder to think about its conception and the reason therefore?
The irony is that I loved Chanel's new watch for 2010, the J12 Marine. I even listed it in my top 5 watches of Basel 2010. So don't think I have any beef against Chanel, I love Chanel, I just really don't like the J12 Retrograde Mysterieuse. To prove my point, I am going to paste below a "summary" (from Chanel) of how to operate and read the watch. If you understand this, and it doesn't give you a headache, you have the full right to tell me I am dead wrong.
Ariel Adams publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.comTo summarize, what happens every hour?
• For the first ten minutes, hours and minutes are read very traditionally in the middle of the watch.
• At the tenth minute of the hour (i.e. at 2 o'clock on the dial), the minute hand reverses its rotation and turns anti-clockwise. It is therefore moving backwards and will take ten minutes to return to its traditional position at the twentieth minute (4 o'clock on the dial). For this counter revolution of 300 (50 min. x 6/min.), it "regresses" at the rate of five minutes of dial every minute.
• During these ten minutes of retrogradation, every minute passed can be read on a disc engraved 11 to 19 in a magnifying aperture. This digital disc only moves slowly during this interval of moving backwards. It remains in neutral (no figures) during the fifty minutes of the normal rotation of the minute hand. • After the ten minutes of moving backwards, reading the time returns to normal.
• This moving backwards of the hand -a "sliding" reversal in its rate -has no adverse effect on the accuracy of the watch, unlike the traditional system of retrograde hands, which requires coiling a spring and therefore an excessive consumption of power.
• At 11 o'clock, a power reserve per hand indicates the operating time for the movement until it is next wound manually (the movement is designed to operate for ten days, once two parallel barrels are fully wound).
And what other mechanical subtleties are still hidden in J12 Rétrograde Mystérieuse ?
• The vertical crown has to be pressed to make it usable -it is normally lowered in stand-by position (functions disconnected). It then rises out of its housing.
• To set the time correctly, a vertical ceramic push-piece concealed in the bezel decoration is pressed: located at 2 o'clock, this push-piece is used to move the hands forward to set the hour and the minutes (including those between 10 and 20, with an accelerated retrogradation speed). The push-piece at 4 o'clock is pressed to disconnect this time setting function.
• To transfer to winding mode, the system is activated by pressing the vertical push-piece at 4 o'clock: the crown is turned to wind the movement. Fifty turns are needed to wind both barrels fully. This can be checked on the power reserve.
• To deactivate the vertical crown, it is pressed back into its housing where it remains blocked until next required.