Boyfriends – past or present – are common sources of inspiration or objects of obsession. And so it is, too, at the house of Chanel which, in 2015, launched what is possibly the most elegant and enduring timepiece in its repertoire – the Boy.Friend.
The maison’s take on a gentlemen’s dress watch for the ladies, the Boy.Friend is also a nod to Gabrielle Chanel’s love affair with masculine codes and aesthetics – a fervour fostered by her relationships with paramours like polo player Arthur Capel, cavalry officer Etienne Balsan and Bendor, the duke of Westminster. Were it not for these men, things like matelasse quilting, tweed and sportswear would never have become signatures of the brand.
A truly men’s-inspired timepiece, the Boy.Friend incorporates many of the brand’s trademark masculine touches. Its octagonal case (in either white or beige gold) mirrors the bottle cap of the Chanel No. 5 perfume and the Place Vendome square in Paris. The watch could also pass off as a true men’s evening watch, thanks to its size – 34.6mm x 26.7mm or 37mm x 28.6mm – and the black alligator skin strap.
But even the most perfect boyfriends can do with a little self-improvement. Which is exactly what Chanel did with its latest additions to the Boy.Friend collection in 2016. The number of references has been bumped up from six to 18 and now span three sizes. Joining the medium and large case sizes mentioned above is a small rendition measuring 27.9mm x 21.5mm. There are also more everyday designs that come in steel cases and are powered by quartz movements.
The rest of the updates see Chanel having more artistic licence with the Boy.Friend. Take, for instance, the Tweed models which sport Milanese steel bracelets. Unlike the typical mesh style of Milanese bracelets, these ones feature interwoven steel wires that have been stamped with the tweed pattern. The edges of the bracelet feature the braiding detail typically seen on Chanel tweed jackets.
The jewellery versions, meanwhile, show off the maison’s expertise in gem-setting. The Paved models (H4890 and H4891) feature fully diamond-pave dials which employ the grain-setting technique commonly used on men’s rings. This setting gives the diamonds a slightly squarish look, reflecting the inspiration for the dial: the pavement of the Place Vendome. But the star of the jewellery watch collection is the Boy.Friend Arty Diamonds line. Five models are created for this range (limited to 18 pieces each) and every piece is powered by a manual-winding movement with a 42-hour power reserve. They each boast a dial with diamonds arranged in a kaleidoscopic manner and using different diamond-setting techniques like hammer- and invisible-setting. Now this is what we call boyfriend material.
An adapted version first appeared in 24:7.
For Its Second Act With Mikimoto, Comme Des Garcons Gives Pearl Jewellery A Punk Edge