Five special edition luxury watches to welcome the noble ox this Chinese New Year.
The lunar year dedicated to the rat comes to a close this February, and makes way for the Year of the Ox. As mythology goes, the quick-witted rat hitched a ride on the ever-reliable ox, pipping it to the post at the Jade Emperor’s party, thereby making it the first animal of the Chinese zodiac – and the ox the second.
Beginning on 12 February 2021, the new lunar year will be all about the steadfast ox – a much-valued animal in Chinese culture for its gentle, honest and hard-working traits.
We introduce these special edition timepieces that pay tribute to the noble creature in its many guises – pastoral, majestic, bucking and bullish – all carefully handworked in the traditional techniques distinct to each house.
In celebration of Chinese New Year, Vacheron Constantin marries the traditional decorative art of paper-cutting in both Swiss and Chinese cultures – Jianzhi and Scherenschnitt – for two new timepieces. Employing the ancestral technique of Grand Feu enamelling, the 40mm blue and bronze dials are decorated with intricate foliage design work as a backdrop for the majestic ox, hand engraved in platinum or pink gold. Vacheron Constantin’s Calibre 2460 G4 movement provides a remarkable hands-free display to showcase the design, instead featuring four apertures showing the hours, minutes, days and dates. Clearly visible through the sapphire crystal back of the case, the 22-carat oscillating weight features a decor inspired by the Maltese cross emblem, the logo of the Swiss watchmaker. Available in platinum and pink gold in twelve models each.
It doesn’t come more prosperous-looking than this. American watchmaker Harry Winston releases a firecracker of a timepiece that truly expresses the festivities and cheerful ostentation of Chinese new year. The iced-out 36mm rose gold case features the splendid muscular silhouette of an ox set against a vivid red mother-of-pearl dial, with shiny red alligator leather straps. This is matched with a Swiss-made, mechanical automatic HW2014 movement that will not be upstaged – fitted with a silicon balance spring to ensure precision over the years, the movement offers a robust power reserve of 68 hours. The Premier Chinese New Year Ox Automatic 36mm is a limited edition of just eight pieces, and presented in a dedicated red-lacquered gift box with golden serigraphy.
Swiss watchmaker Jaquet Droz enjoys a centuries-old connection to China that goes way back to the Qing dynasty and the Qianlong Emperor, who was allegedly fascinated by the mechanical automaton watches. Over a decade, the Jaquet Droz family exported over 600 timepieces to China, qualifying it as the first watchmaking brand imported into the Forbidden City. This year, it pays a sensitive tribute to the Year of the Ox with two versions of a micro-painting depicting an exquisitely serene pastoral scene with a backdrop of misty Chinese mountains, both in a 35 mm ladies’ version with a gem-set bezel and lugs, and a 41 mm version without gems. A third timepiece features relief engraving – a speciality of the house and a personal favourite of Jaquet Droz – showing a gentle ox set against a gold plum tree with red ruby blossoms on 41 mm Petite Heure Minutes hour rings, available in both red gold and white gold with a gem-set bezel and lugs. Each of these four handcrafted compositions are exclusively being released in a series of eight.
The Blancpain Villeret Chinese Traditional Calendar watch is a marvel of technical complexity, fusing the Gregorian calendar (based on the solar day) with the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar (based on the lunar cycle). This innovative complication, a genuine mechanical challenge whose development required five full years for the Swiss watchmaker to master, is incorporated into the self-winding 3638 calibre. Endowed with a seven-day power reserve, this Haute Horlogerie movement is housed in a 45 mm case featuring a crown set with a cabochon-cut ruby. A tiny and tastefully rendered ox appears in an aperture at 12 o’clock above the double-hour counter, subtly present alongside two symmetrically positioned subdials respectively indicating the celestial stems and the five elements. An intensely realised piece of technical mastery, the Blancpain Villeret Chinese Traditional Calendar is a limited edition series of 50 pieces.
This lunar new year, Piaget has immortalised the ox on the dial of one of its most iconic timepieces – the Altiplano – using grand-feu cloisonné enamel, crafted by the famous master-enameller, Anita Porchet. This ultra-thin 38mm timepiece comes in an 18-karat white gold case adorned with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds and is powered by the house’s exceptional 430P hand-wound movement that measures a mere 2.1mm in thickness. Along with this limited edition Altiplano, Piaget is also releasing a new Limelight Stella moon-phase timepiece in a 36mm 18-karat rose gold case dressed with 126 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel and festive red alligator leather straps. The watch is powered by Piaget’s 584P self-winding movement and indicates the hours, minutes, seconds, and phases of the moon.
Product images courtesy of respective brands featured, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.