Enter the Dragons: A Round-up of the Most Luxurious Chinese New Year Watches, Part 2
Today, we present part two of our round-up of year of the Dragon watches featuring the most outrageous timepieces and unexpected brands celebrating this auspicious New Year.
The Chinese Zodiac is a 12-year cycle, with each lunar year characterized by an animal. This coming year, which begins on Saturday, February 10th, it’s the noble Dragon. According to Chinese mythology, those born under the sign of the Dragon are said to be self-assured leaders with charismatic personalities.
In part one of our year of the Dragon-themed round-up, we looked at the pieces from brands that have been releasing special Chinese zodiac-themed editions for ages. Now, for part two, we are featuring unexpected timepieces that sum up that fierce and intelligent Dragon spirit.
Back in 2012, Blancpain presented the first wristwatch to feature a traditional Chinese calendar ever: the Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar. Now, to begin the brand’s next 12-year zodiac cycle, the 2024 edition – the Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel – features a newly imagined dragon on the red gold winding rotor flanked by a red ruby and the Chinese character engraving of the words “dragon” and “wood,” which is the element of the 2024 Dragon.
Housed in a 45.2mm case made of 18K red gold to accommodate the Calibre 3638 movement that took over five years to develop and comprises 464 individual parts, the Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel features a forest green grand feu enamel dial and boasts four hands dedicated to the Chinese calendar, an additional snake-like hand for the Gregorian date display, and a moonphase aperture at 6 o’clock.
Completed with an Alligator leather strap, the Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar is limited to 50 pieces and priced at $72,400.
The French fashion house Dior has not forgotten that dragons can fly; hence, its 36mm Dior Grand Soir Year of the Dragon watch loaded with 52 round-cut diamonds set in a yellow gold bezel and framing a sunray dial. This piece’s face also features a golden dragon head and gold-colored feathers surrounded by four round-cut diamonds.
This unconventional timepiece is powered with an automatic movement visible through a frosted display caseback (which sort of adds to the feeling that a dragon is flying through the clouds just out of sight). The watch is finished with either a silver satin strap with a steel, diamond-studded ardillon buckle set (featuring 18 brilliant-cut diamonds) or an additional white alligator strap.
The Dior Grand Soir Year of the Dragon is limited to 18 pieces and priced at $44,000.
The Schaffhausen-based brand IWC is leaning into the luck part of the Lunar New Year celebrations. This Year of the Dragon edition from the maison’s timeless Portugieser Chronograph line features a rich burgundy-colored dial, a color associated with good and prosperity in Chinese culture.
IWC has also taken a similar approach to last year’s Chinese New Year Portugieser model by featuring the mythological beast on the rotor (which is visible via the sapphire glass caseback). Although less ornate than some of the other entries, it’s a smart choice for those who don’t want to wait another 12 years to wear this 41mm beauty of a dragon-themed watch.
The IWC Portugieser Chronograph Year of the Dragon (ref. IW371629) is limited to 1,000 pieces and priced at $9,350.
For its first Asian Zodiac timepiece ever, Longines has taken a different tack from its competition. For this special edition Flagship Heritage Year of the Dragon moonphase model, the brand collaborated with acclaimed Chinese artist Zinan Lam was invited to create a special emblem, which features an auspicious dragon with its head raised and soaring upwards, intricately engraved on the case back.
Lam’s fluid design was inspired by the oracle bone script – the oldest known form of Chinese writing, while the stainless steel 38.5mm case encases the attractive gradient red dial. Finally, in keeping with the theme of a long and prosperous life, the timepiece is powered by the exclusive Longines calibre L899.5, equipped with a silicon balance spring and a 72-hour power reserve.
The Longines Flagship Heritage Year of the Dragon is a limited edition to 888 pieces and costs $3,150.
In an impressive display of its gem-setting and prowess in the realm of metiers d’art, Piaget has released four new high-jewelry watches to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Of these, we are most drawn to the 38mm Altiplano High Jewellery Dragon with its fantastical dial created by famed enamellist Anita Porchet.
Here, Porchet’s detailed paillonné enamelwork is the perfect backdrop for a gold-engraved dragon holding a mystical black opal fireball in its talons. Meanwhile, the creature’s fiery gaze comes from its red lacquered eyes as it floats against a radiant sunburst engraving.
Finally, just when you think this dragon couldn’t be more dazzling, the timepiece is trimmed with diamonds on the lugs and bezel and fired up by Piaget’s historic 830P Manufacture ultra-thin, hand-wound mechanical movement.
The Piaget Altiplano Dragon is limited to 38 pieces. Price is available on request.
In 2012, during the last Year of the Dragon, Ulysse Nardin presented an immaculate 88-piece limited edition, the Classico Enamel Champlevé Dragon, featuring a beautiful dragon artwork created in enamel. For 2024, the UN has completed the 12-year cycle by adding a three-dimensional rose gold dragon to create the Blast Tourbillon Dragon 45mm.
On this model, the dragon slides among the planes of the Calibre UN-172 and the Blast Tourbillon’s signature X structure. Meanwhile, protected between its five-clawed hands is a pearl representing purity, wisdom, and wealth. It took two years for Ulysse Nardin to perfect this complication, which included making bespoke adjustments to the design of the Blast Tourbillon case, bezel, and glass-box crystal.
The Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon Dragon is limited to 88 pieces and priced at $100,600.
His ensemble consists of a red velvet smoking jacket (with a satin shawl lapel and a gold dragon embroidered on the breast), black satin-striped tuxedo trousers, red socks, and embroidered black velvet slippers. In his right paw, he holds three red envelopes adorned with golden dragons to signify prosperity and good health for the rest of the year, although it’s a flex that looks good any year.
This 38mm time teller is crafted from stainless steel and kept in motion by Ralph Lauren’s mechanical self-winding RL200 calibre. Happy dapper Lunar New Year!
The Ralph Lauren Lunar New Year Polo Bear is a limited run of 50 pieces and priced at $1,750.