Year Of The Ox: Lunar New Year Watches
What do we like about 2021, aside from the fact that it’s not 2020? A whole new crop of Chinese Zodiac art watches. Let’s face it, there is nothing particularly sexy about the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, but that’s not the point. Each one represents specific attributes that signify good character, and the powerful symbolism attached to each animal is an important part of Chinese culture. Timepieces that depict the animal of the year became popular about a decade ago. They are works of art, highly sought-after by collectors, and among the animals represented, which include roosters, pigs, dogs and snakes, this year’s ox is perhaps more palatable than last year’s rat, from an aesthetic point of view. Symbolically, the ox is a solid beast of burden that in addition to making for a robust decoration on a watch dial, represents the qualities of diligence, persistence and honesty. Exactly the qualities it took to produce these watches, representing high watchmaking and/or craftsmanship at its best.
Harry Winston Premier Chinese New Year Ox
Leave it to Harry Winston to find a way to create an ox that includes diamond-studded horns and torso bursting out of a red mother-of-pearl dial like a bull charging a matador. Under the house of Winston, the ox is the action hero of the Chinese zodiac. Hours and minutes are centered above the animals head, corresponding to a halo of diamonds serving as an index. The 18k gold case, dial, buckle and bezel are set with 180 diamonds weighing a total of 2.8 carats. It is a limited edition of eight pieces. (Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture). The combination of red and gold are also important in Chinese culture, symbolizing immense good fortune and prosperity.
Blancpain Villeret Chinese Traditional Calendar
This is one of the more tasteful renditions in the lineup of Chinese zodiac watches that appear this time of year. It is also the most complicated. The ox symbol, hovering in a small aperture at 12 o’clock, is overshadowed by a virtuoso display of functions below, driven by a movement that is more complex than a perpetual calendar. It fuses the Gregorian calendar, which is based on a solar day, with a traditional Chinese calendar, which is lunisolar. (A solar year is about 11 days longer than a year of 12 lunar months.) It also shows the five elements (wood, earth, fire, water and metal) along with the ten celestial stems over a cycle of ten years. Caliber 3638 has three mainspring barrels, for a seven-day power reserve. There is a platinum edition of 50 pieces, and an unlimited 18k gold edition.
Chopard L.U.C Urushi Year of the Ox
This is Chopard’s ninth Chinese New Year collectors edition, and as usual, it is an ultra-thin watch with an elite movement, in this case the automatic caliber L.U.C 96.17-L, with two mainsprings for a power reserve of 65 hours. The scene on this dial is “evocative of ancestral toil, humble prosperity and timeless elegance,” says Chopard. The urushi lacquer, which combines lacquer and gold powder, is produced for Chopard by the workshops of the century-old Yamada Heiando company in Japan, made by master lacquer artist Minori Koizumi. The 39.5mm case is 18k rose gold. It is an 88 piece limited edition.
Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Buffalo
Jaquet has produced four ox models, each in a series of eight, to celebrate the year of the ox. The first, in red gold, comes in two sizes, a 35mm with diamonds and a 41mm without. The white grand feu enamel dial is miniature painted with the likeness of an ox grazing against a backdrop of mist-covered mountains. The case is 18k red gold. The other, available in white or red gold, shows an ox engraved in gold relief against a pitch-black onyx dial and a gold plum tree with red ruby blossoms. The plum tree symbolizes the harmony between humans and nature, the earth and the sky. Rubies stand for bravery and victory. According to Jaquet Droz, Chinese lore holds that children born under the sign of the ox are known for their honest and hard work.