Year Of The Ox: Five New Timepieces To Celebrate The Lunar New Year

Year Of The Ox: Five New Timepieces To Celebrate The Lunar New Year

These exquisite, artistic, and artisanal zodiac-inspired watches will help usher in good fortune and fresh beginnings on the lunar New Year.

By Rhonda Riche

Followers of the solar-based Gregorian calendar have already rung in the New Year, but frankly, after 2020, we need as many fresh starts as possible. That is why we are excited to celebrate the lunar New Year with a slate of new and awesome watches.

Lunar New Year is a sweeping term for festivals celebrated in China and other Asian countries to usher in a new lunar year. And this year, the festivities start on February 12th.

Lunar New Year also marks the beginning of a new sign in the Chinese zodiac, or shēngxiào. The Chinese zodiac is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year represented by a different animal and its attributes. In order, the 12 Chinese zodiac animal signs are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. Since 2020 was the Year of the Rat, that makes 2021 the Year of the Ox.

Traditionally, watchmakers are keen to honor the changing of the guard with imaginative timepieces featuring themes from the zodiac and the lunar New Year. Here are five of our favorites.

Swatch Ox Rocks 2021

In China, it’s important to ring in the New Year with certain customs, such as holding a family reunion dinner, cleaning up, eating dumplings, and going shopping. These customs are meant to foster good luck in the coming year and, more broadly, symbolize a new beginning.

To celebrate this new start, Swatch has released the special edition Ox Rocks 2021. This take on the 47mm Big Bold model explores the yin and yang, with a design of two intertwined oxen, one red and one golden.

This concept of balance is further explored on the bezel, on which two phrases are printed: “Year of the Ox” and “Exist Together in Harmony.” The black silicone strap is emblazoned with a golden flame print both outside and inside.

Priced at $125, the Ox Rocks 2021 is available now on Swatch’s website.

Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Buffalo

In addition to the 12-year cycle of the animal signs, the Chinese calendar also factors in a 10-year cycle of heavenly stems. Each of the stems is, in turn, associated with one of the five elements of Chinese astrology: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.

For 2021, it is the year of the Metal Ox. And in Feng Shui, wearing metal accessories is said to attract prosperity and success. So start the year right with the Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Buffalo.

Jaquet Droz’s age-old Sino-Swiss kinship goes back over 250 years. And for 2021, the brand's Ateliers d’Art is presenting four pastoral timepieces, employing either miniature painting or relief engraving.

The miniature painting models feature ivory grand-feu enamel dials and depict an ox in a peaceful mountain setting. This idyllic landscape is housed in an 18-karat red gold case. One case is 35mm with a diamond-set bezel and lugs (1.23 carats), and the other is in a 41mm case without gems. Through the see-through caseback of both watches you can also observe hand-engraved 18-karat red gold oscillating weights that take the form of an ox.

The high relief versions depict an ox that appears to be stepping out of the black onyx dial. In the background is an 18-karat gold plum tree with 27 ruby blossoms. Chock full of symbolism, the plum tree signifies the harmony between humans and nature, the earth and the sky, while the rubies represent bravery and victory, values close to the ox's heart.

Again, there are two variations. One is crafted in red gold, and the other in white gold with a gem-set bezel and lugs. Both editions are 41mm in diameter with engraved oscillating weights with the head of an ox.

Each of these four handcrafted compositions is being released in a limited series of eight.

For more information, visit Jaquet Droz’s website.

Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year Of The Ox

The lunar New Year is a time to forget the misfortunes of the past and open the door to good luck. For this reason, new clothes and accessories are auspicious.

The Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year Of The Ox is interesting in that it applies ancient techniques to create something completely novel (and very auspicious indeed).

The face of this ultra-thin watch features a carved golden ox harnessed to a colorful cart inspired by the emperor’s wagons. It is designed and created in workshops of the century-old company Yamada Heiando, and each is individually painted by lacquer artist Minori Koizumi. 

These artisans turn sap from the Urushi tree into lacquer for painting. This many-layered method also uses the Japanese technique of Maki-e, which adds shimmering gold dust to the lacquer.

The case of this 39.5mm watch is forged from a solid block of ethically sourced 18-karat rose gold. And with its in-house L.U.C 96.17-L ultra-thin (3.3mm thick) movement, the entire watch, when cased, measures only 6.8mm in thickness. This caliber also boasts a high frequency, so it can wind two barrels efficiently and offer 65 hours of power reserve. The mechanism is meticulously finished, and some of the components can be viewed via the exhibition-style sapphire caseback. The watch is finished with a black alligator strap.

Due to the time-consuming process of making the dials, only 88 pieces (a lucky number in Asian cultures) will be produced.

For more information, visit Chopard’s website.

Piaget Altiplano Year of the Ox

To honor the strength of the ox, Piaget has immortalized the bovid on the face of one of its most iconic timepieces: the ultra-thin Altiplano. For this special edition, an exquisite grand-feu cloisonné enamel dial was created by famous master-enameller Anita Porchet.

This 4,000-year-old decorative art starts with transferring the design onto the surface of the dial using gold ribbons to create miniature partitions, or cloisons, in which different enamel pigments are placed. The dial is then fired in a kiln multiple times at temperatures between 820ºC and 850ºC. Once finished, the dial is varnished, capturing the image forever.

The timepiece itself comes in an 18-karat white gold case adorned with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 0.71 ct.) and is powered by the brand’s exceptional 430P hand-wound movement that measures a mere 2.1mm in thickness. It is paired with an elegant black leather strap that is fitted with an 18-karat white gold pin buckle.

For more information, visit Piaget’s website.

Piaget Limelight Stella

Red is the color most commonly associated with the lunar New Year because it symbolizes life, joy, wealth, and courage. And since the lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, that makes the 2021 lunar New Year edition of the Piaget Limelight Stella, with its blood-red moon phase complication featuring a star-filled night sky, the perfect timepiece for entering the new year.

This dazzling dial comes in a 36mm 18-karat rose gold case encircled with 126 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel (approx. 0.65 ct.). Fourteen brilliant-cut diamonds also sparkle on the mother-of-pearl dial (approx. 0.05 ct.)

The timepiece is powered by Piaget’s 584P self-winding movement and indicates the hours, minutes, seconds, and phases of the moon. It is paired with a red alligator leather strap and 18-karat rose gold pin buckle.

The Limelight Stella will be exclusively available in China and Hong Kong as of February and the rest of the world in April.

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