Two years ago, Chanel marked the 10th anniversary of the J12 collection, launching a new masterpiece of haute horology, Rétrograde Mystérieuse Tourbillon watch. Presented as the unique timepieces with five innovative complications, it is still one of the most interesting high-quality watches on the market. This year, Chanel Rétrograde Mystérieuse comes in two highly limited editions of 10 pieces.
This is one of those watches that you need time to figure out how it works, which I find extremely amusing. It is not all about functionality. Today, when the sophisticated technology touches the perfection, the great idea and an ingenious solution for that idea make a difference. That is exactly what Chanel got hiring one of the most advanced watchmaking workshops, Giulio Papi (APRP SA) to develop a truly innovative mechanism for Rétrograde Mystérieuse Tourbillon watch.
It is a RMT-10 Caliber hand-winding movement that features a tourbillon complication and an incredible power-reserve of 10 hours, thanks to two parallel barrels. The way it works, while displaying time with great accuracy, is a real pleasure for eyes, and even after a certain amount of time, you can find yourself staring at its mysterious retrograde dial. But the first feature that you will notice is the missing of a side crown. Instead of spoiling the perfect roundness of the 47 mm case, the crown is hidden at the least expected place, on the front of the dial where it can be drawn in or popped out for winding or setting time.
While enjoying the harmonious motions of the movement’s parts which are completely revealed through sapphire crystal glasses on both sides of the case, you will discover a minute hand butts up against the crown (at the 10th minute/ 2 o’clock position), unable to move forward. This is where the mystery starts. The retrograde minute hand starts moving backwards around the dial until it is positioned on the other side of the crown from where it continues to display time normally. It needs ten minutes to return to its traditional position at the 20th minute (the 4 o’clock position) on the dial. So, while it runs anticlockwise, each passing minute can be read on a digital display that reveals a disk with engraved numbers from 11 to 19 through a magnifying aperture. During 50 minutes of the normal rotation of the minute hand, this disc stays neutral, showing no figures. It is good to know that this retrograde game does not affect the great accuracy.
At the 9 o’clock position on the blacked dial, there is the tourbillon cage, while a discrete power-reserve indicator takes 11 o’clock position. Chanel Rétrograde Mystérieuse Tourbillon watch is available in two Limited Editions. One is crafted in high tech ceramic and 18 karat pink gold, while the other one combines ceramic with white gold. An 18 karat gold bezel features 12 high-tech ceramic inserts. Those at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock positions activate the crown functions.