HANDS ON: Chanel vs Chanel – 2 Boy.Friends fight it out for a place in your heartCeri David
Tune in to any period drama and at some point there’ll be a plot line where two eligible young bachelors vie for the attentions of a damsel; a situation which typically ends in fisticuffs, name-calling (“You blasted cad!”) and the woman not having a say in anything. Happily, our version of events – in which the original Chanel Boy.Friend is pitted against the new kid on the block, the Chanel Boy.Friend Tweed – takes place in far more enlightened times. Our lady of the manor gets to choose however she likes. One. Both. Neither. That’s the way it works, folks. And, with that lesson in healthy relationships crystal clear in everyone’s minds, let the battle commence.
The Boy.Friend first showed up in mid-2015, offering a feminine twist on masculine style – something Coco famously loved to play with in her designs back in the day. Then there’s the octagonal shape of the case, which is another link to the brand’s heritage – a very sweet nod to the iconic art deco bottle that houses Chanel No.5.
The original collection comes in three sizes, on a variety of materials and straps: steel, gold, satin, alligator – with and without diamonds. The largest – pictured here – is mechanical, which is what got our attention, unsurprisingly. (And you know Coco would have been proud.)
This potential suitor is a well-built chap at 28.6 x 37mm, but elegant too, thanks to the opaline dial’s fine guilloché finish and beige gold, plus the absence of anything as pedestrian as numerals cluttering the dial. The alligator strap is super-supple and feels like a hug to the wrist, its black echoed by the onyx cabochon in the crown – which, by the way, is also octagonal. So many nice touches. We like him.
Chanel Boy.Friend, large, in 18K beige gold (ref. H4315), $18,600
Just a few months ago in September, a slinky new maverick strutted onto Australian shores in the form of the Chanel Boy.Friend Tweed. The idea behind it? Essentially, the solid steel bracelet has been given a texture like tweed – one of Madame Chanel’s favourite fabrics, again from her experiments with men’s tailoring in a women’s world. Along with the novel texture comes a definite ‘fashion’ vibe – which is compounded by the fact the whole line is quartz powered.
Many of the little touches are still present – the octagonal crown (though this time with a black spinel cabochon), the dial’s guilloché finish and the buckle which mirrors the shape of the case. They key difference beyond the strap is the black dial, making it a much moodier proposition, and certainly more of a night owl. The Tweed comes in just the small and medium models, with and without diamonds, and we roadtested the small size with 62 of the sparkly little devils. On paper that sounds like it might be ostentatious, but they actually interact quite beautifully with the light reflecting off the bracelet’s indentations. This one knows he looks good.
Chanel Boy.Friend Tweed, small, steel set with diamonds (ref. H4877), $11,450
So, which will it be? The classical gentleman or the mysterious new arrival? Well, precisely no one will be surprised to hear us say it’s a shame there’s no mechanical version of the Tweed. That’s just the way we are here at T+T, so get used to it. Also, the original looks a little more sturdy, but that may be to do with the size. So on balance we’d have to say this guy has our favour. Having said that, both iterations have their own drawcards. And you know what? It’s the Chanel Boy.Friend – not the Chanel Hus.Band – so there’s no reason why we can’t have both.