January 25 marks a new lunar year, and every year a handful of the watch industry’s most revered brands celebrate the occasion through artistic endeavours that highlight the zodiac animal of the year: this time it’s the rat.
In Chinese culture, the rat—the first of all zodiac animals—is viewed as a symbol of wealth and surplus. Legend has it that the animal order was decided by order of arrival at the Jade Emperor’s party. The rat tricked the ox into giving him a ride, and once near the destination, the rat jumped down and scampered, beating the ox. Rat people are known to be resourceful, intelligent, lucky, and prosperous.
Then why not add a zodiac rat to your watch collection?
Blancpain Métiers d’Art Porcelaine
Blancpain celebrates the Year of the Rat with its first-ever porcelain dial handcrafted in its Métiers d’Art workshops in Le Brassus, Switzerland. The new watch marks the Swiss manufacturer’s introduction of the traditional Chinese craft of porcelain production. Issued in an eight-piece limited-edition collection, the 33 mm white gold case features a bezel set with 48 brilliant-cut diamonds and powered by the 1154 automatic movement whose finishes can be admired through the sapphire caseback. Each of the enamelled dials has been painted freehand with images of convivial rats.
Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi
Chopard calls on the ancestral art of Urushi to create the dial of the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat watch. The ancient Japanese lacquer art uses the sap of the Urushi tree found in Japan and China. The resin is harvested only once a year in extremely small quantities and has to be kept for three to five years before it can be used, making Urushi an extremely rare art form. On the 88 dials of the limited-edition watch is a golden rat, standing on an ear of corn to symbolize abundance; and a persimmon, representing longevity. The L.U.C XP is cased in rose gold and powered by the L.U.C 96.17-L calibre.
Panerai Luminor Sealand
Eight is an auspicious number in Chinese culture, and Panerai, too, has produced 88 pieces of its Sealand celebrating the Year of the Rat. A distinguishing factor of every Sealand is its decorative cover hinged at 12 o’clock which opens to reveal the dial. The decoration on the cover for this limited-edition watch depicts the rat, engraved by hand using the ancient art of sparsello. The technique is named after the tool, a little scalpel used to make incisions in the metal. These incisions are then inlaid with gold threads hammered in to fill the recesses. The mechanical movement powering the Luminor Sealand is the P.9010 calibre with a power reserve of three days. The watch, water resistant to 100 metres, is fitted with a semi-matte calf strap and comes with a second one made of rubber.
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