This article by Roberta Naas first appeared on her Perfect Timing column on Forbes.com.
Every year around this time, a handful of watch brands begin unvieling watches that celebrate the Chinese New Year. Each year, these brands created scintillating watch designs and dials based on the Chinese astrological calendar that pay tribute to the animal of the year. As of February 5, 2019, it will be the Year of the Pig, and Chopard is the first watch brand to unveil its special timepiece. The Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Pig watch is created in 18-karat rose gold and in a limited edition of 88 pieces. It features a dial illustrating the pig beautifully using the Japanese art of Urushi. Via hand engraving and hand painting with lacquer from the Urushi tree sap, the artisan who creates the dials for these watches is a master at his craft.
The Pig is the 12th animal of the Chinese zodiac and in the Chinese culture, is cosidered a symbol of wealth. On the Chopard timepiece, the Pig, with a bright and friendly face, is depicted in a golden hue in the center of the dial, with a backdrop of midnight blue, with a forest, trees and stars in a variety of colors. The golden pig is meant to represent abundance, sincerity and a jovial spirit. The dial is created using a varnish from the Urushi tree that grows in Japan and in China. The sap is harvested only once a year in tiny quantities and it is then left for several years until the resin can be treated to be used as a paint. It has a texture to it that resembles honey and is applied in layers to the dial.
Every one of the 88 dials is created under the vigilant ey of Master artisan Kiichiro Masamura who is a Living National Treasure in Japan and is said to be the best master of this art. He works with another master from the Yamada Heiando Company, Minori Koizumi, to craft every dial. Each is, therefore, unique.
The 39.5mm watch is powered by Chopard’s in-house-made mechanical movement, Caliber 96.17-L. The ultra-thin movement is also entirely decorated by hand at Chopard’s workshops by its master artisans. It features a 22-karat gold micro rotor and is equipped with the brand’s Two barrels, Twin(R) technology, offering 65 hours of power reserve. The mechanical movement, with bridges decorated with the Cotes de Geneve motif, is visible via a transparent sapphire caseback. The watch is water resistant to 30 meters and features glare-proof sapphire crystal and offers hours and minutes indication. It is finished witha black alligator strap with a brand alligator leather lining. It retails for $25,600.