When are we going to accept that fashion brands can make legit timepieces? 6 amazing references from rulers of the runway When are we going to accept that fashion brands can make legit timepieces? 6 amazing references from rulers of the runway

When are we going to accept that fashion brands can make legit timepieces? 6 amazing references from rulers of the runway

D.C. Hannay

If a luxury brand is synonymous with handbags or jewellery, most watch collectors won’t usually give them the time of day, as we tend to get hung up on the fact that these names are known more for haute couture than haute horology. Despite the best efforts of the watch press, a whole segment of the industry has gone largely ignored by watch snobs in favour of the tried-and-true from Rolex, AP, Omega, and other established watchmaking brands. But to ignore the output of names like Hermès, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Dior, and others is to do so at your peril. Here are six watches that counter the notion “fashion brands” can’t realize timepieces with serious watchmaking behind them.

Chanel J12 Phantom Watch Caliber 12.1

fashion brands

Released in 1999, the original Chanel J12 line was something new from an industry segment that leaned toward smaller jewelled timepieces. Here was a fully ceramic dive-style watch, rendered in glossy black or bright white, and fashionistas lapped it up. It was revolutionary at a time when ceramic cases were a very niche sector of watchmaking, and the J12 line has now expanded to include everything from basic quartz models to high jewellry references, including an insane full rainbow sapphire model. The 38mm Phantom is one of my favourites, with a great unisex size and murdered-out aesthetic that’s as timeless as Coco Chanel’s famous little black dress. The shiny black ceramic remains, but inside is a new caliber, a product of Chanel’s 20% stake in movement manufacture Kenissi. Now a partner for brands like Breitling, Tudor, TAG Heuer, and more, Kenissi’s new Caliber 12.1 features a skeletonised tungsten rotor for increased efficiency, a 70-hour power reserve, and COSC certification. Price: US$8,000

Brand Chanel
Model J12 Phantom Watch Caliber 12.1
Case Diameter 38mm (D) x 12.6mm (T)
Case Material Black ceramic/stainless steel
Water Resistance 200m (screw-down crown)
Dial Black
Crystal Sapphire crystal and sapphire exhibition caseback
Bracelet Black ceramic, deployant clasp
Movement Caliber 12.1 automatic
Power Reserve 70 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Now
Price US$8,000

Hermès H08

French house Hermès is renowned for their fine leather goods and elegant scarves, but these days, they’re really killing it in timepieces. Their new H08 model features a truly original design language, and sports a trio of materials in its case construction: rose-gold, titanium, and ceramic. The look is refined and sporty all at once, with the luxe touch of the 39mm gold case juxtaposed with an adventure-ready rubber strap. Finishing is predominantly brushed, including the radial finishing on the ceramic bezel, lending a more tool-like vibe. Peek through the titanium/sapphire display back, and you’ll see something unexpected: A manufacture movement. Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier (Hermès is a 25% stakeholder) developed the H08’s H1837, which features too-cool H-branded bridges and rotor and a 50-hour power reserve. Price: US$15,600

Brand Hermes
Model H08 ref. 059581WW00
Case Diameter 39mm (D) x 10.6mm (T) x 46mm (L2L)
Case Material Rose gold, DLC-treated tianium, and black ceramic
Water Resistance 100m (screw-down crown)
Dial Black-gold treated dial with grained and brushed finishes
Crystal Sapphire crystal and sapphire exhibition caseback
Strap Black rubber strap with black anthracite webbing, DLC-treated titanium clasp
Movement Hermes automatic manufacture calibre H1837 (developed by Vaucher)
Power Reserve 50 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability TBA
Price US$15,600

Polo Vintage 67

Ralph Lauren is known to have a pretty sick watch collection, so it’s nice to see his obsession trickling down into his own brand’s collections. And while the Polo brand certainly had preppy-leaning quartz fashion watches in their past, their partnership with Richemont has brought some rather fine timepieces to the catalogue since 2009. They’ve offered models featuring JLC-sourced movements, and even a tourbillon model in their automotive-inspired line. But their new Polo Vintage 67 might just be their killer app, offering a versatile everyday look, combined with classic Ralph Lauren Americana style. However, the Vintage 67’s Big Story is the use of a manually-wound La Joux-Perret 7380 movement, featuring some pretty sweet decoration beneath the visible sapphire caseback. It’s an unexpected surprise, and one that brings a 90-hour power reserve to the table. The 40mm steel case is an appealing blend of vintage and modern all at once, and the opaline silver dial brings all the classic pocket watch feels to the wrist. And it looks absolutely killer on the bund strap. Price: US$2,700

Brand Ralph Lauren
Model Polo Vintage 67
Case Dimensions 40mm x 9.1mm
Case Material Distressed polished stainless steel
Water Resistance 50m
Dial Opaline
Crystal(s) Sapphire front and back
Strap Burnsished tan calf leather bund strap with steel buckle (20mm/18mm)
Movement La Joux-Perret 7380
Power Reserve 90 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, sub-seconds
Availability Now
Price $2,700 USD

Gucci 25H Tourbillon

fashion brands

If you haven’t been paying attention to the brand, you’d be forgiven if you thought Gucci only offered quartz “fashion watches”, but while they’ve long had a toe in the fine watchmaking pool, the brand has really jumped into the deep end with their High Watchmaking collection. Don’t be distracted by all the A-list faces among their ambassadors (Idris Elba included), there’s some real horological sorcery afoot. One of their coolest lines is the 25H collection of slender integrated timepieces, but the real baller of the bunch is the supercar-sexy 25H Tourbillon. This elite version takes the Nautilus-by-way-of-Italy flair of the standard model and amps it up to 11. A scant 8mm thin, these 40mm autowinding models are available in yellow or white gold, and even platinum, all at eye-watering prices. The micro-rotor turbillon movement comes courtesy of Kering, who also provides calibers for corporate siblings Girard-Perregaux and Ulysse Nardin. And if these are all too conservative for your tastes, there are even more bonkers manually-wound skeletonised tourbillon models available. Price: €120,000-€170,000

Brand Gucci
Model 25H Tourbillon
Case Diameter 40mm (D) x 8mm (T)
Case Material Yellow gold, white gold, or platinum
Water Resistance 30m
Dial Gold or platinum
Crystal Sapphire crystal and sapphire exhibition caseback
Bracelet Gold or platinum
Movement GG727.25 automatic tourbillon
Power Reserve 60 hours
Functions Hours, minutes
Availability Now
Price €120,000-€170,000

Louis Vuitton Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum

fashion brands

Louis Vuitton really shook things up when they released the first iteration of the Spin Time in 2009. The storied luxury house, best known for their logo-emblazoned handbags and high-end luggage, have long been a favourite of the well-heeled and image-conscious. And LV could have merely splashed their iconic monogram all over a series of quartz fashion watches like so many other high-ticket brands, but that’s not the case. The Spin Time is LV’s showcase for displaying their bona fide horological chops, and the Air Quantum takes the jump hour movement’s unique method of timekeeping and runs with it. This utterly unique timepiece lights up the fluorescent-hued yellow dial cubes via miniscule LEDs, transforming the timepiece into a rave for the wrist. The light show is powered by two batteries, but the movement itself remains a mechanical one. In a world of “me too” design, the Spin Time truly is a timepiece that swings for the fences, and the watch world is a better place as a result. Price: AU$93,000

Case Material Titanium with black DLC coating
Case Dimensions 42.5mm x 12.3 mm
Water-Resistance 50m
Dial Black with mixed finishes
Straps Alligator and rubber hybrid
Movement LV 68
Power Reserve 35 hours
Functions Spin hours, minutes, 3-second LED glow
Price $93,000 AUD


Salvatore Ferragamo F80 Skeleton

It’s giving off Zenith meets Hublot meets Swatch vibes, but the colourful duo above has recently been launched by Ferragamo – a brand, of course, typically associated with couture and fashion. But, in fairness, these watches do have enough going for them to make watch lovers a tad curious. Powered by the automatic Landeron 24, they’re housed in 41mm, bio-based ceramic cases (a composite material including 60% ceramic powder from natural minerals and 40% nylon with 63% bio-based content from renewable sources) with 100 metre water-resistance and TPU rubber straps that include 39% bio-based content. Priced at US$2,195, the two Ferragamo F-80 Skeleton watches may be a harder sell to watch snobs. At the very least though, it is interesting to see Ferragamo up their horological game. Price: US$2,195

Brand Salvatore Ferragamo
Model F-80 Skeleton Watch
Case Dimensions 41mm (D)
Case Material Bio-based ceramic
Water Resistance 100m
Dial Openworked
Crystal(s) Sapphire crystal and exhibiton caseback
Strap Bio-based TPU rubber strap
Movement Automatic Landeron 24
Power Reserve 40 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Now
Price US$2,195