Happy Chinese New Year Of The Tiger 2022 With 8 Auspicious Big Cats Featuring On Wristwatches
恭喜发财 / 恭喜發財 (Gōngxǐ fācái)
It is now a tradition for watchmakers to observe Chinese New Year by creating beautiful, decorative, limited edition timepieces adorned with symbolic depictions of the appropriate sign of the Chinese zodiac – often using rare, artistic techniques paying tribute to the eastern calendar.
The Year of the Tiger – which is the third animal in the 12-year zodiac cycle – begins on February 1, 2022.
Contrary to the western Gregorian calendar, which uses the solar day as its base unit, the traditional Chinese calendar is lunisolar, meaning it uses a solar calendar with the lunar cycle (29.53059 days) as its base unit.
Since one year comprising 12 lunar months (354.36707 days) is approximately 11 days too short compared with the solar year (365.242374 days), a leap month is sometimes added. As each month of the Chinese calendar (including leap months) begins on the day of new moon, its length is either 29 or 30 days.
This means that when a year includes a leap month, it will be a 13-month year, while a year comprising 12 lunar months is shorter than the solar year.
This is the reason behind the variable date of Chinese New Year.
To celebrate the event, high-end manufacturers have created special editions depicting some form of the regal tiger. Let’s have a look at eight of them.
Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Tiger
The annual Chopard L.U.C XP horological tribute to Chinese New Year combines arts, crafts, ideology, and technology originating in Switzerland, China, and Japan: Chopard Manufacture’s L.U.C XP model with its ultra-thin movement; Japanese expertise in lacquer; and China’s zodiacal symbolism. The Swiss brand has been releasing these delicious editions based on the ultra-thin L.U.C XP since 2013.
For the urushi lacquer artwork Chopard cooperated with Yamada Heiando, a workshop founded in 1919 that counts the Japanese emperor and his family among its loyal customers. The master lacquer artist in charge of this particular work was Minori Koizumi, and he needs 160 hours to complete each dial.
This gold-based dial contains several special elements, starting and ending with the Maki-e technique, which sees gold flakes captured between the layers of lacquer from the Toxicodendron vernicifluum (Chinese lacquer) tree. Here they light up the “starlit” background against which we find a tiger perched above a bay surrounded by cliffs.
For more information, please visit chopard.com/intl/l-u-c-xp-urushi-year-of-the-tiger.
Quick Facts Chopard L.U.C. XP Urushi Year of the Tiger
Case: 39.5 x 6.8 mm, ethical pink gold
Movement: automatic Caliber L.U.C 96.17-L with micro rotor; 65-hour power reserve via two sets of twin spring barrels (Chopard Twin technology); 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency; ultra-thin at 3.3 mm in height
Dial: hand-painted urushi lacquer
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 88 pieces
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel Tiger
Rotating the case of this very special Reverso reveals a magnificent tiger engraved into the pink gold metal, one that looks as if it is leaping out from the background of black opaque grand feu enamel. The polished surface of the tiger’s fur and the contrasting rhodium-brushed texture of its stripes catch and reflect the light to create an illusion of motion and power.
Maximizing the sense of volume and bringing depth to the engraving, the engraver used a technique called modeled engraving for the tiger, a technique that sees differently sized chisels sculpting the metal step by step. Adding to the challenge of creating the tiger, the engraver’s work did not begin with a bare metal surface, but one already coated with a layer of oven-fired enamel. The engraver needs 55 working hours to complete the creation of this feline masterpiece.
For more information, please visit jaeger-lecoultre.com.
Quick Facts Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel Tiger
Case: 45.5 x 27.4 x 9.73 mm, pink gold
Dial: black grand feu enamel
Movement: hand-wound Caliber 822A/2, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: upon request, made to order
Arnold & Son Perpetual Moon Year of the Tiger
This ode to Chinese New Year 2022 by Arnold & Son lives from its giant moon splashed across the upper half of the dial. This moon is more than just large and noticeable – what other maker allows its moon phase display to take up half the dial? – it is also shiny and even luminous. Crafted in mother-of-pearl, the enormous lunar disk is also coated with glow-in-the-dark Super-LumiNova.
The moon phase window also contains hand-painted constellations sprinkled with silver powder and painted with Super-LumiNova.
However distracting that moon and its surroundings may be, they don’t take away from the art found on the lower half of the dial, which features an imposing, three-dimensional 18-karat pink gold engraved tiger seeming to prowl among a beautiful hand-painted waterfall landscape sprinkled with luminous pigments.
And all of this is placed on a stunning dial crafted in a deep black aventurine and specular hematite. To match the dial material, Arnold & Son has sourced a black alligator-skin strap also exhibiting silver flecks and embellished with stitching in genuine platinum thread.
For more information, please visit arnoldandson.com/en/collections/metiers-d-arts/perpetual-moon-tiger.
Quick Facts Arnold & Son Perpetual Moon Year of the Tiger
Case: 42 x 12.16 mm, red gold
Movement: manual winding Caliber A&S1512 with 90 hours of power reserve from twin spring barrels, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes; moon phase display accurate to 122 years, second moon phase indication on back
Limitation: 8 pieces
Price: CHF 52,900
Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Legend of the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Tiger
In an annual limited edition called Legend of the Chinese Zodiac, Vacheron Constantin’s artistic tribute to the Chinese New Year 2022 is based on the idea of a Chinese paper cutting art form called jianzhi.
A motif engraved into the gold dial using a bas relief technique representing leafy foliage stemming from Chinese iconography makes for a lovely background. After engraving, the enamel is added in layers that are successively fired in a kiln.
The dial provides a calendar in the truest sense of the word: its four windows respectively show the current hours, minutes, day, and date. The placement of these windows in each of the four corners allows the beautiful arts to take place of pride on the dial, pushing the time to a secondary position – as it should be when we look at and consider art.
These watches are powered by automatic Caliber 2460 G4, which forms the basis of the brand’s various Métiers d’Art collection pieces – recently the fabulous Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers and Les Mécaniques Sauvages. Caliber 2460 G4 was introduced in 2005 in honor of Vacheron Constantin’s 250-year celebration (see How Vacheron Constantin Celebrated Its 250th Anniversary In 2005), bringing with it a technology the brand calls “dragging” and jumping disks, which indicate the hours, minutes, day, and date in small windows in the corners of the dial.
For more information, please visit vacheron-constantin.com/en/watches/metiers-d-art/metiers-d-art-the-legend-of-the-chinese-zodiac-year-of-the-tiger.
Quick Facts Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Legend of the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Tiger
Case: 40 x 12.74 mm, 18-karat red gold or platinum
Movement: automatic Caliber 2460 G4, 40-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency, Geneva Seal
Dial: 18-karat gold, hand-engraved, high-fire enamel, hand-engraved platinum or gold pig
Functions: hours, minutes; weekday, date (all shown in windows)
Limitation: 12 pieces of each variation, available only in Vacheron Constantin boutiques
Price: upon request, only available at Vacheron Constantin boutiques
Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar
On the Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar’s busy dial, the Gregorian calendar rubs shoulders with the main indications of the Chinese calendar, which include a traditional double-hour indication, day, month with indication of leap months, signs of the zodiac, the five elements, and the ten celestial stems. The latter along with the 12 animals of the zodiac follow the 60-year cycle that is central to Chinese culture.
The depiction of moon phases is a key element in Blancpain’s complete calendars, and it is naturally present at 6 o’clock. Opposite that, at 12 o’clock, a small tiger represents this year’s zodiac animal.
For more information, please visit blancpain.com/en/villeret/calendrier-chinois-traditionnel.
Quick Facts Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar
Case: 45.2 x 15.1 mm, platinum with ruby cabochon in crown, five under-lug correctors to adjust indications
Dial: oven fired enamel
Movement: automatic Blancpain Caliber 3638 with 7-day power reserve; 464 components including 39 jewels, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; traditional Chinese calendar with double-hour indication, signs of the zodiac, date, month of the Chinese calendar, indication of the five elements, the celestial stems and the leap months; Gregorian calendar with date, moon phases
Limitation: 50 pieces
Piaget Altiplano Year of the Tiger
Piaget introduces its tenth limited edition in honor of Chinese New Year, just in time for Year of the Tiger.
Anita Porchet, a master of the enamel art form (and Gaïa Award winner), has been collaborating with the brand on various limited editions since 2006. Here she once again created the dial for Piaget’s Chinese zodiac-themed timepiece, this time using the cloisonné enamel technique to stage a ferocious tiger looking off into the new year in vivid tones.
For more information, please visit piaget.com
Quick Facts Piaget Altiplano Year of the Tiger
Case: 38 mm, white gold set with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.71 ct)
Dial: oven fired cloisonné enamel
Movement: manually wound Piaget Caliber 430P, ultra-thin, only 2.1 mm in height, 40-hour power reserve, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 38 pieces, available only at Piaget boutiques
Harry Winston Premier Chinese New Year Automatic 36 mm
Harry Winston has been celebrating Chinese New Year since 2016 with limited edition timepieces. And in honor of the Year of the Tiger, the Swatch Group-owned brand presents a Premier timepiece showcasing two playful tiger cubs playing with gold rosettes inspired by the décor of the wrought-iron gates leading into the grand entryway of Harry Winston’s iconic Fifth Avenue flagship location. The dial’s colors are dominated by red and gold, symbolizing good fortune and prosperity.
Each of the cubs is crafted in 18-karat pink gold, while the stripes are created using red mother-of-pearl marquetry. The eyes are formed by – what else? – brilliant-cut diamonds. The cubs also have peonies on their pelts, a nod to Harry Winston’s own legacy: Ambaji Shinde, Harry Winston’s head of design for 40 years, was a gifted Indian painter and jewelry designer. Renowned for his opulent creations, which more often than not went to Indian royals and maharajas, these pieces were not seldomly inspired by flowers. The peonies, made of pink, purple, and green mother-of-pearl marquetry, recall this historic appreciation of nature.
A limited edition of eight pieces, the delightful dial of Harry Winston’s Year of the Tiger watch is set with 65 brilliant-cut diamonds and a larger emerald-cut diamond at 12 o’clock, Mr. Winston’s favorite cut. The total gem count for this watch is 139 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 2.57 ct) and one emerald-cut diamond (approx. 0.02 ct). The look is completed by a shiny red alligator strap secured to the wrist with a pink gold buckle set with 17 brilliant-cut diamonds.
For more information, please visit harrywinston.com/en/products/harry-winston-the-premier-collection/premier-chinese-new-year-automatic-36mm-r1/shiny-red-alligator-leather.
Quick Facts Harry Winston Premier Chinese New Year Automatic 36 mm
Case: 36 x 9.36 mm, pink gold set with 57 brilliant-cut diamonds
Movement: automatic Caliber HW2014 with silicon balance spring, 68-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 8 pieces
Price: upon request
Swatch Tiger Power 2022
From Swatch’s “Big Bold” line, this very large timepiece is interesting in its color combination of gold-colored dial with tiger graphic, red details, and black strap and Bioceramic case – a material that is a mix of ceramic and bioplastics.
And if you think that is cool, you’ll probably love the idea that the shimmering tiger head on the dial is a metalized microstructure created by 3D printing. High-tech for €150, what’s not to love?
For more information, please visit swatch.com/de-de/tiger-power-2022.
Quick Facts Swatch Tiger Power 2022
Case: 47 x 11.75 mm, Bioceramic
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
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Such a shame.
Obviously tigers are magnificent.
Obviously a lot of skill, time and effort has been spent on these timepieces.
But they just don’t look serious. It’s just well nigh impossible to DRAW A TIGER on a wristwatch and make it look like a grown-up item!