As we end our year and look forward to the new year, so, too does the Chinese market. Beginning on January 25, 2020, the Chinese New Year — the Year of the Rat — starts, and runs until February 12, 2021. According to Chinese culture, the rat is known for its intelligence and shrewdness. Now, as has been a regular tradition at Chopard, there is a new Chinese Zodiac Year of the Rat watch to celebrate.
Ancient Chinese lore says that Buddha summoned the animals before he entered into Nirvana. He picked the first 12 to arrive to mark the Chinese zodiac. Because the rat climbed onto a buffalo that arrived before the cat, he earned a place in the zodiac — beating out his now arch enemy the cat (which came 13th in line).
For this Year of the Rat watch, created in a limited edition of just 88 pieces in 18-karat rose gold, Chopard creates a dial using the ancient Japanese art of Urushi painting. The golden-hued rat sits atop an ear of corn (which suggests abundance) against a stunning midnight blue background. Next to him is a Khaki fruit that resembles a tomato. It is picked in winter and represents longevity. There is also sprig of a plant with flowers in bright blue. The overall scene is supposed to represent intelligence, resourcefulness and a sign of optimism, according to Chopard.
Created entirely by hand, the artist combines traditional Japanese lacquer with gold dust to achieve the gold flecks. The Urushi lacquer is actually sap from a Urushi or varnish tree that grows in Japan and China. The sap can only be harvested once a year and in its raw form is a resin. The resin is then left to sit for several years before it can be treated to become soft and pliable enough to paint with. The thick syrupy lacquer is said to be highly resistant to scratches.
Each dial is hand painted and is the result of a cooperation between chopard and Yamada Heinado — a grand master at the art of Urushi painting. As a result, each dial is a unique piece.
The 40 mm watch is powered by Chopard’s in-house movement, the L.U.C 96.17-L ultra-thin caliber. The movement components are all artistically and finely finished by hand in Chopard’s workshops in Switzerland. They are visible via a transparent sapphire case back. Because the movement is so thin (3.3mm), the watch is slim on the wrist and sits nicely under a suit jacket thanks to its 6.8mm thickness. The mechanical self-winding movement offers 65 hours of power reserve. Each watch retails for $24,600.