Ten best watches to celebrate the year of the Dragon

The Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year, is the most important festival across east Asia, a joyful event celebrated with family, feasting and fireworks over a period of days. According to the lunar calendar 10th February 2024 marks the start of the year of the dragon. In Chinese mythology the dragon is associated with water and symbolises power, honour, vitality and success and is a far more benevolent creature than the fearsome fiery ones portrayed in House of the Dragon and western mythology.

It is at this time of year that the luxury watch houses reveal their special editions featuring one of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Last year it was the cautious rabbit and the previous year the amiable and stubborn ox, but this year’s powerful dragon is sure to lure collectors from beyond the borders of Asia. The annual festival is a rare opportunity for watchmakers to display their finest metier d’art skills with enamelling, engraving and miniature painting coming to the fore.

Breguet’s Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 pays tribute to the dragon who is hand engraved in gold with a pearl made of mother of pearl clutched in its talons.

Gold is the year of the dragon’s lucky colour and so these golden mythical creatures grace the dials of limited-edition watches from Piaget, Chopard, Bovet, Breguet and Arnold & Son. On the Classique Double Tourbillon 5345 at Breguet, hand-engraved in gold he curls between two tourbillons clutching a pearl made of mother of pearl in his talons. Legend has it this pearl possesses the sacred essence that gives the dragon his power. While Arnold & Son’s moonlit red gold dragon sits on the aventurine dial of the Perpetual Moon 41.5.

GNS1.2 watch by Genus

Independent Swiss brand Genus has created a kinetic piece of horology in which an articulated chiselled gold dragon is in near constant motion marking the tens- of-minutes that pass in each hour.

One remarkable example is from Genus who’s inaugural GNS1.2 model is the first watch anywhere to feature an articulated dragon to express the passage of time. It took three years to develop, with the sculpted and engraved dragon perpetually in motion, akin to an automaton.

Piaget, having completed the full cycle of 12 lunar years of limited editions, again collaborates with enamelling master Anita Porchet for 10 new designs encompassing high jewellery as well as timepieces. These include Altiplano models and two secret watches. The starburst dial pattern of the 41mm is in fine paillonné enamelwork (translucent enamel on gold) with an engraved gold dragon clasping a black opal fireball.

L.U.C XP Dragon watch by Chopard

One of 88 pieces Chopard’s L.U.C XP dragon is in ethical 18k rose gold with and Urushi lacquer artwork dial combined with gold powder and mother of pearl inlays, crafted in Japan using the Maki-e technique. ©Federal-Studio

As in previous years Chopard again uses the ancient art of Urushi lacquer, working with a Japanese master of the traditional Maki-e lacquer technique in which gold flakes are placed between layers of lacquer from the sap of a specific tree to give a golden shimmer to the dial behind the dragon.

There are other techniques crafted by watch brands to depict dragons like Vacheron Constantin’s revival of grisaille enamelling, a technique dating back to the 16th century which reveals the dragon in chiaroscuro making it appear more mythical as it emerges from the ghostly darkness. There also are some notably contemporary techniques such Bell & Ross’ Artline dragon which is laser engraved, reminiscent of tattooing, across the dial and strap. Even Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso has a graphic tattoo-like dragon carefully engraved on black enamel.

Spirit of the Big Bang Dragon watch by Hublot

Chinese paper cutting and marquetry are two art forms used in Hublot’s collaboration with Chinese artist Chen Fenwan to create this fantasy dragon’s head in titanium for the Spirit of the Big Bang Titanium Dragon watch.

Equally modern is Hublot’s Big Bang Titanium Dragon which is a collaboration with Chinese artist Chen Fenwan. She adapted the ancient Chinese art of paper cutting, which is traditionally used at festivities, to create an intimidating dragon’s head in titanium marquetry. Similarly unconventional is Hamilton’s Ventura, an avant-garde, geometric shield shaped watch, with a dramatic skeletal dragon face on the dial with its eyes flashing danger, looking more akin to the western mythology’s fiery creatures.


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