January 28th marks the beginning of the Year of the Rooster, the 10th animal in the Chinese Zodiac. As per recent tradition, a handful of luxury watch brands — always cognizant of their Asian markets — have created special timepieces to commemorate the occasion. Here are five worth crowing about.
Bovet Amadeo Fleurier Monsieur Bovet Métiers d’Art Rooster
This timepiece features a white lacquered dial with Roman numerals on the front, and a white mother-of-pearl dial with a miniature painting of a rooster (pictured) on the reverse side. The 43-mm case, in either 18k rose gold or 18k white gold, is in Bovet’s hallmark Amadeo style, which allows the watch to be converted from wristwatch to pocketwatch to miniature table clock with ease. The movement is Bovet’s manual-winding Caliber 13BM09AI, which controls all timekeeping displays (hours, minutes, a patented co-axial small seconds subdial, reverse hand-fitting for hours and minutes displays on both sides of the dial) and a front-side indicator for the watch’s impressive seven-day power reserve. The watch comes with both a full-skin alligator strap and a gold or rhodium-plated silver pocketwatch chain. It is priced at $73,500 in rose gold and $76,700 in white gold.
Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi – Year of the Rooster
Chopard has devoted another watch in its artistic L.U.C Urushi collection — which feature hand-crafted lacquered dials using the ancient Japanese Urushi technique — to the Chinese New Year. The watch, a limited series of 88 pieces, depicts a rooster — a symbol in Chinese culture of honesty, courage, and confidence — through the ancient arts of Urushi lacquer and mother-of-pearl marquetry. The Urushi technique uses sap from a Japanese tree that has been specially aged and treated to an extreme hardness, then applied in very thin layers to trap the purpose-cut mother-of-pearl fragments and hence achieve the multicolored image on the dial. Chopard worked with master lacquer artists, from a firm that is an official purveyor to the Japanese imperial family, to create the dials, which also depict eight gladioli — symbolic of good luck — surrounding the proud, puffed-out rooster.
The watch has a 39.5-mm case in 18k rose gold, and contains Chopard’s automatic Caliber L.U.C 96.17-L, which is visible through a clear sapphire caseback. It uses a 22k gold microrotor for winding the two mainspring barrels, which offer a 65-hour power reserve. The movement is also a treat for the eyes, with its high-end horological decorations, including beveled and polished chamfers, polished screws, and côtes de Genève on the bridges. The L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rooster watch comes on a hand-sewn black alligator strap and retails for $24,290.
Harry Winston Premier Automatic 36mm
From Harry Winston’s elegant Premier collection comes this very limited (eight pieces) watch, in a 36-mm rose gold case with emerald-cut diamonds and a hand-painted, grand feu enamel dial. An artist used a fine sable-hair brush to paint the proudly poised rooster, directly onto the dial’s gold baseplate, under a microscope. The layers of enamel are fired at temperatures of at least 800º Celsius and then cooled before the next layer of enamel paint can be applied. The white magnolia flowers surrounding the rooster represent the feminine “yin” to the rooster’s masculine “yang.” The Harry Winston name has been hand-painted next to the rooster’s red comb. The deep blue feathers allude to Harry Winston’s passion for blue diamonds, in particular the famous Hope Diamond. The watch is powered by a Swiss automatic mechanical movement (HW 2008), with a 72-hour power reserve and a silicon balance spring. The price is $48,500.
Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Rooster
The Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Rooster — one of four Year of the Rooster-themed pieces from the brand’s Ateliers d’Art collection — is limited to just 28 pieces. Its talking points are the miniature sculpture of a rooster, executed in the same rose gold as the case, and the hand-engraved dial inlaid with jadeite and mother-of-pearl. (Jade is, of course, one of the most precious materials in Asia, symbolizing luck and health.) After being engraved, the dial is then patinated and hand-painted in monochromatic shades that enhance the relief areas.
Panerai’s ninth special-edition watch devoted to the Chinese Zodiac features a distinctly Italian style of decorative engraving. The rooster illustration on the polished steel cover over the dial was created by hand using the ancient “sparsello” technique, named after the special tool used to execute it. First, grooves are made in the steel and then inlaid with gold threads in multiple layers. The threads are then beaten until they completely fill the grooves to create the finished image. The process is extraordinarily challenging, since the process of inlaying the gold takes place after the lid has already been engraved and polished, meaning the slightest error could undo all the earlier work.
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