In celebration of the Year of the Dog, Swiss watchmakers pay much emphasis to play to the theme by rolling out a series of canine-related timepieces to capture the very essence of man’s best friend as well as your imagination. Data suggest that dog days may finally be over as the watch industry is on an upswing after a couple of lean years brought on by a sluggish global economy.
According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, Hong Kong, the world’s largest watch market, posted a 2.9% sales growth from January 2017 to August 2017, compared to the same period the year before. China, the third-largest importer of Swiss watches, posted a phenomenal 19.4% growth for the same period.
Meanwhile, the Swatch Group, which owns popular brands such as Omega, Longines and the eponymous Swatch, revealed that its 2017 sales number rose 7.3% year on year. It even went on the record to say that December 2017 recorded the second-best monthly sales in the history of the group.
Overall, the Swiss watch exports rose 2.7% in 2017.
It is no surprise then to see watchmakers are keen to capitalise on the bullish sentiment. What better way to do so than beautiful thematic timepieces to kick-start the Year of the Dog?
Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi – Year of the Dog
Each year, Chopard draws inspiration from the repertoire of Chinese astrology to offer a fresh interpretation of its Urushi dial, an ancestral Japanese technique.
Its name stems from the tree whose resin is patiently harvested, once a year, in very small quantities. Three to five years after being collected, the resin is treated in such a way as to become a highly resistant lacquer applied in a number of extremely fine layers. The Urushi master then imprisons within it a number of tiny iridescent particles that endow it with distinctive depth, luminosity, and exquisitely fine nuances.
Through the beautiful Akita breed, Chopard called upon Kiichiro Masumaro to oversee the creation of the L.U.C XP Urushi dial, while the lacquerware technique was executed by Urushi grand master Minori Koizumi.
At the heart of the ultra-thin case measuring 39.5mm in diameter and 6.8mm thick beats the mechanical self-winding L.U.C 96.17-L movement. The watch is limited to 88 pieces.
Graham Chronofighter Vintage Nose Art Ltd – Kelly
Chinese mythology mingles with 1940s aviation glamour in the hands of the new Graham Chronofighter Vintage Nose Art Ltd – Kelly. Classy Kelly is unsurprisingly never alone. The faithful friend of this hand-painted pin-up lady is of the canine kind.
What else in the year of the dog? And it’s not just by chance that he’s hanging out between three and four o’clock, two of this new year’s lucky numbers. Kelly’s figure-hugging cheongsam dress is in striking red, the perfect accompaniment to any lanterns or couplets that may cross the wearer’s path during festive celebrations.
Complementing the midnight blue dial is a hand-sewn blue calf-leather strap. Graham is creating just 100 pieces of this special watch, each signed off by Kelly at nine o’clock.
Officine Panerai Luminor 1950 Sealand 3 Days Automatic Acciaio – 44mm
The dog appears on the cover of this special edition, engraved with a sophisticated technique in a style inspired by traditional Chinese iconography and surrounded by plum flowers, chosen for their auspicious significance.
Each of the 88 watches produced for this special edition has been adorned by hand by the Italian master engravers using the ancient technique of “sparsello”, so named after the special tool used to decorate the cover.
First grooves are made in the steel before they are inlaid with gold threads in multiple parallel layers.
Solid and reliable, the movement has a power reserve of three days and it is fitted with a bi-directional oscillating weight and the device for quickly adjusting the hour hand, which also automatically changes the date.
Ulysse Nardin Classico Dog
A limited edition of 88 pieces in 18k rose gold, it is powered by the self-winding UN-815 movement. It boasts a 42-hour power reserve along with a COSC certification, set in a 40mm case.
To create the beautiful dial, Grand Feu, so named for the incredible heat required to fuse the enamel, is combined with the Champlevé technique, involving the carving of cells with a chisel directly on the dial, which are then filled with different colored enamels.
This ancient art of enameling is incredibly rare, and only a handful of craftspeople in the world have mastered this decorative technique to the degree displayed in this timepiece.
Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Dog
These two new creations, realised in twelve models each, combine the technical excellence of Caliber 2460 G4 with the beauty of artistic crafts.
China, a nation with which Vacheron Constantin has been cultivating special ties since 1845, first introduce the paper-cutting technique known as Jianzhi, a popular art echoed in Swiss culture through its famous Scherenschnitt paper-cutting. This artistic approach, highlighted in the Métiers d’Art The legend of the Chinese zodiac, has been given a fresh interpretation thanks to the expertise of the master engravers and enamellers.
The foliage motif appearing on the dial and based on classic Chinese iconography is etched directly in the metal, then comes the stage of Grand Feu enamelling. The dog, made of platinum or pink gold, is hand engraved and delicately applied to the dial centre.
The hands-free time display is achieved through four apertures showing the hours, minutes, days and dates. These indications – the first two of the dragging variety and the last two of the jumping type – proudly embody the longstanding savoir-faire of the maison in designing and developing original displays.