The observance of the Lunar New Year has evolved to become so much more than reunion dinners and generous red packet-giving, especially since luxury brands are recognising that they can take the most anticipated festivity to another level with special offerings to remember the year by.
February 5th marks the new year of the lunar calendar, which also brings us to a new star of the Chinese zodiac: The Pig. As a symbol of generosity, abundance, and prosperity, what better way to mark the Year of the Pig than with a crop of limited edition Lunar New Year watches.
These zodiac-themed watches aren’t only an extravagant feast for the eyes, they’re also a way for some of Switzerland’s finest watchmakers to show off a wide breadth of meters d’art techniques, making these timepieces all the more collectible.
Scroll down to check out our top picks for the Year of the Pig.
(Hero image: Vacheron Constantin)
In keeping with tradition, Chopard expands its collectible zodiac series this year by releasing the Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Pig in an auspicious number of 88 pieces. As usual, Master artisan Kiichiro Masamura — who is also a Living National Treasure in Japan — demonstrates the Japanese art of engraving and Urushi hand painting, using lacquer made from rare Urushi tree sap for an added touch of brilliance.
As a symbol of wealth, Chopard’s star is portrayed with a bright and friendly face, against a contrasting midnight blue backdrop with flora and fauna. Inside the 39.5mm watch sits Chopard’s ultra-thin Caliber 96.17-L, which, of course sees with bridges that are beautifully decorated with the Cotes de Geneve motif.
Of course Vacheron Constantin wasn’t going to sit out this massive flex of artistic skills. Inspired by the Chinese art of paper-cutting, the 12-piece limited edition watch joins the hallowed Métiers d’Art collection with its spectacular depiction of the pig.
The 18k gold dial sees a delicate foliage motif that’s pain-stakingingly etched directly in the metal, while subtle reliefs are employed for a sense of depth against the dial. As the pièce de résistance, a pig is hand-engraved from platinum before being set onto the dial. Instead of the traditional hands, the timepiece uses apertures to tell the time and date, a strategic move that keeps the eyes strictly on the craftsmanship.
Harry Winston knows how to stir the hearts of the Chinese. Rendered amidst a striking red mother-of-pearl is not only this year’s zodiac animal in rose gold, but also symbolic magnolia flowers that are meticulously put together by precious pearl marquetry — a tribute to some of China’s richest cultural traditions.
Craftsmanship is key here, and the famed jeweller shows off its proficiency in diamond-setting by affixing one emerald-cut and 83 brilliant-cut diamonds throughout the automatic timepiece.
Jaquet Droz brings to life the symbol of abundance this year with a realistic depiction of the critter. Here, artisans employ miniature painting techniques on an ivory-hued piece of enamel to portray an adorable pig against a bountiful field of wheat, embodying boundless prosperity.
Because of the workmanship involved in undertaking this timepiece, Jaquet Droz will only produce 28 pieces this year.
Those seeking a unique Lunar New Year timepiece with a bit more mileage will appreciate Blancpain’s tribute to the Chinese calendar. The timepiece is a lot more complex than the rest on this list, seeing that the Gregorian calendar is based on the solar cycle, while the Chinese calendar is based on the moon’s movement.
Against the Grand Feu enamelled dial is a detailed traditional Chinese calendar that displays everything from the ten celestial pillars to the five elements, alongside the zodiac animal of the year within an insert at 12 o’clock.
While red gold version is stunning in its own right, the 20-piece limited edition platinum version is really the one you’ll want to get your wrists into.