Dior’s Chiffre Rouge Marks a Triumphant Return to Watchmaking

The watch world is full of divisions (quartz vs. automatic, Swiss vs. Japanese, microbrand vs. megabrand) but perhaps no two distinctions divide more deeply than the split between so-called “fashion” timepieces (the ones bearing names more commonly associated with clothes and accessories) and ones made by stalwart watch brands. Like many aspects of the watch world, however, things are starting to shift. As watches continue to gain popularity among a more diverse group of enthusiasts, the old lines are beginning to blur, and things that were considered gauche among die-hard collectors just a few years ago are losing their stigma. To this end, consider the new Dior Chiffre Rouge Collection Exhibit A.

Dior Chiffre Rouge Collection
Chiffre Rouge Black Ultramatte. ($11,500)

The Chiffre Rouge Collection was first launched in 2004 and was named for Dior founder Christian Dior’s favourite colour (red), and his lucky number (eight). The watches, then as now, featured a sporty look characterized by a monochromatic black colour scheme accented with a bold pop of red on their chronograph pushers and crowns. A lot has changed in the luxury landscape since 2004, however, and the new Chiffre Rouge Collection reflects these changes in some interesting ways, especially where its movements are concerned.

The Chiffre Rouge Collection consists of five new models, ranging from a three-hand model with a 38mm matte black DLC coated steel case to a 41mm tourbillon model with rose gold accents and a bezel set with 60 baguette-cut sapphires, amethysts, tourmalines, and rubies. Each of these watches features quintessentially Dior touches like the cannage motif embossed on their dials and rubber straps, a nod to one of Monsieur Dior’s signature details, along with red accents on the seconds hands and off-centre winding crown. In keeping with its name, the three-hand and chronograph models also feature a red numeral eight in the date window, offering a tribute to Dior’s lucky digit once a month.

Dior Chiffre Rouge Collection
Chiffre Rouge Black Ultramatte Chronograph. ($20,000)

Things start to get a little more interesting (at least from an old-school watch enthusiast perspective) with the chronograph model, which thanks to an assist from LVMH sibling Zenith, is powered by a modified Zenith El Primero movement. One of the first-ever automatic chronograph movements ever made, the El Primero is one of the most respected calibres in the industry and gives the Chiffre Rouge Chronograph more than its fair share of street cred.

Things get even more impressive still with the tourbillon models, each of which is powered by movements created with the help of Louis Vuitton’s La Fabrique du Temps watchmaking studio. Limited to just 20 pieces each, they feature rose gold bumpers and matching micro rotors engraved with the cannage motif.

Dior Chiffre Rouge Collection
Chiffre Rouge Ultramatte Diamonds. ($24,000)

All of this makes the new Dior Chiffre Rouge Collection something that will appeal equally to fans of haute couture and haute horlogerie. That’s an intersection that was vanishingly rare a few years ago but is now (thanks in no small part to the efforts of Louis Vuitton and La Fabrique du Temps) increasingly familiar. Twenty years after its initial launch, it seems the world has finally caught up to the Chiffre Rouge.