CNY 2022: All the tiger-themed watches you’ll want to usher in a powerful new year
The time has come again for Swiss watchmakers to offer their luckiest wares for the coming Year of the Tiger.
With Chinese New Year drawing near, those celebrating it can look forward to a year filled with power and prestige – attributes that go with 2022’s corresponding zodiac animal, the tiger. But culture and mythology aside, I’m sure we can all agree that a new year – whether it starts on Jan 1 or Feb 1 – is worth celebrating. These watchmakers from the other side of the world are certainly getting in the spirit, so that watch lovers here in the east may enjoy the festive season in auspicious style.
BLANCPAIN TRADITIONAL CHINESE CALENDAR
It’s been exactly 10 years since Blancpain released its Traditional Chinese Calendar but it still continues to impress. After all, it is hard to diminish a movement that was five years in the making and boasts the standard Gregorian calendar and a lunisolar Chinese one.
Even the way it lays out this bounty of information is so well thought out that it hasn’t needed updating in a decade: The Gregorian date is located around the periphery of the dial and indicated by a serpentine pointer hand, an aperture at 12 o’clock reveals the current zodiac animal, and a double hours sub-dial lies below that.
On the left, you will find the Chinese calendar indications, and on the right you have the five elements and 10 celestial stems. A moon phase takes up the spot above 6 o’clock. Differentiating each year’s edition is an oscillating weight engraved with the corresponding animal – so a tiger, in this case. Limited to 50 pieces in platinum with a grand feu enamel dial.
CHOPARD LUC XP URUSHI YEAR OF THE TIGER
Now in its ninth year, Chopard’s zodiac-themed LUC XP is a metiers d’art watch that unites the Japanese art of Urushi lacquer and maki-e with the Chinese mythos.
Once more, it has a 39.5mm case crafted from 18K ethical rose gold, this time with a dial emblazoned with a roaring golden tiger against a starry mountain landscape. Its brilliant sheen comes from the lacquer, which is made from sap tapped from Urushi trees. The sap is then filtered through layers of special paper to obtain translucency, mixed with pigments, and left to harden over several months.
A master artisan from Japan’s Yamada Heiando Lacquerware, which supplies the Japanese imperial family, undertakes each of the 88 dials by hand.
HARRY WINSTON PREMIER CHINESE NEW YEAR AUTOMATIC
Showing off an unusually childlike style this year is Harry Winston, where the stylised, Chinese paper cutting-like animals from recent years have been replaced by two playful tiger cubs.
As cute as the designs are, the finishes are still serious jewellery business. Each cub is crafted in 18K gold and decorated with peonies cut from pink and purple mother-of-pearl.
On the vividly red dial – also mother-of-pearl – lie an off-set diamond-ringed sub-dial for the hours and minutes, and rosette motifs that you may recognise from the brand’s Winston Gates jewellery collection. The 36mm watch is powered by the automatic HW2014 automatic movement with 68 hours of power reserve. It is limited to just eight pieces, and comes in a matching red presentation box.
PIAGET ALTIPLANO YEAR OF THE TIGER
Artisan Anita Porchet has become so synonymous with enamelled watches that it’s hard to look at a beautifully painted and fired dial and not wonder if it carries her signature. Piaget’s enamelled pieces certainly do, since the house has been working with the master enameller for more than a decade now.
Keeping with the tone of previous zodiac watches, Porchet uses the cloisonne enamelling technique to create this edition’s white tiger. The technique is defined by using fine gold wires as an outline for the animal and then filling it with layers of enamel, with kiln firings between each applied layer.
To seal these meticulously developed colours, varnish is applied to the dial as a final step. The 38mm white gold case is further decorated with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds, complementing the creamy glow of a mother-of-pearl dial. Limited to 38 pieces.
TAG HEUER CARRERA YEAR OF THE TIGER
Tag Heuer is offering a more contemporary, less literal take on the feline tribute with a cut-out dial showing off two-tone blue stripes that offer texture and depth. The lighter blue stripes are horizontally brushed metal strips coated with blue PVD while the near-black stripes are made of a painted, grainy textured metal.
Adding contrast are 18K rose gold-plated baton hour markers and hands, with a matching crown for a subtle bimetallic look. A blue-and-black tiger is printed on the exhibition case back, and beating under it is the self-winding Calibre 5, which is also water-resistant to 100m. This stylish dial is complemented by a dark blue strap with rose gold-coloured contrast stitching. Limited to 300 pieces.
ULYSSE NARDIN CLASSICO TIGER
Ulysse Nardin is one of a handful of luxury watchmakers that dedicates as much time and energy into its artistry as it does to its chronometry. Which is why, in 2011, it acquired enamel dial specialists Donze Cadrans to take care of its more decorative offerings – making them some of the most vibrant and coveted in high watchmaking.
The Classico Tiger is a superb example of the studio’s expertise. Gold leaf and champleve enamel (where cells are carved out for enamel to be poured into) helped create the gleaming gold, black, white and red colours on the tiger, while the silver moon in the background was achieved with paillone enamel, which involves coating multiple thin layers of metal foil in enamel to create a sensation of depth. All of this is wrapped up in an 18K rose gold case, and only 88 pieces will be made.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN LEGEND OF THE CHINESE ZODIAC YEAR OF THE TIGER
Vacheron Constantin’s hand-less, four-aperture style dial (where an aperture is dedicated to hours, minutes, day and date, respectively) has worked brilliantly in allowing maximum room from which to show off its artistic talents.
There have already been a number of magnificent pieces from the Les Cabinotiers collection that have featured the tiger as its anchor motif, but this one sticks to the Legend of the Chinese Zodiac series’ blueprint. That is, a hand-engraved animal applied to a blue or brown dial etched with floral patterns inspired by jianzhi paper-cutting.
Blue-dialled versions are cased in platinum while the brown dials are paired with rose gold cases, and each edition is limited to 12 pieces. The series’ in-house Calibre 2460 is made of 237 parts and is certified with the Geneva Seal.