Spring Time – Stylistic Watches are a Motif for all the 365 Days
Just as the embrace of Chinese culture has become one of the fastest-growing phenomena of the 21st century, so too has the Chinese New Year – or the Spring Festival – established itself as an event of truly international proportions. Typically honoured in all of the largest cities around the world, citizens of every nationality now look forward to processions, street dances, and all the paraphernalia traditionally associated with the most important date on the Chinese calendar.
Inevitably, this has not been lost on many of the world’s biggest brands, companies never known to miss out on a commercial opportunity. In particular, luxury precision watchmakers – ever mindful of the value of the Chinese and Hong Kong markets – have celebrated this Rabbit Year with custom limited edition timepieces.
Boasting octagonal-shaped cases, the Harry Winston Emerald watch collection features cases crafted in 18-karat white or rose gold. The 18mm models also boast a diamond-set bezel as a nod to the house’s “King of Diamonds” legacy. Available in mother-of-pearl, the dial is crowned with rubies in the form of an emerald cut. The standout from this collection comes with a red, classic alligator leather strap, which is a straight-out nod to traditional CNY festivities.
In celebration of 2023 being the Rabbit Year, IWC Schaffhausen has unveiled its Portugieser Automatic 40 Edition “Chinese New Year”. Housed in an ergonomic 40-millimetre stainless-steel case and featuring a striking burgundy dial and gold-plated hands and applique, a particular highlight is hidden at the back of the watch – the automatic winding mechanism’s gold-plated oscillating weight in the form of a rabbit.
The Hong Kong tourbillon brand Memorigin, meanwhile, is honouring its long-term commitment to promoting Chinese traditions through the launch of its Memorigin Zodiac Series. The periphery of the dial is designed in an auspicious fret pattern, while the indices are represented by rubies or blue sapphires. The watch is equipped with a manual-winding tourbillon movement that consists of 155 pieces of subassembly module and 18 jewels. In all, it has 40 hours of power reserve and a vibration frequency of 28,800 oscillations per hour.
Turning now to the OMEGA Constellation Aventurine, this features dials fashioned from natural Aventurine stone, meaning no two dials are ever alike, with options to choose bezels paved with diamonds or engraved with Roman numerals. The watch also features diamond-set bezels and skeletonised hour and minute hands, as well as dial-matching leather straps in red.
For its part, Parmigiani Fleurier has gone full-on Chinese with the launch of its Tonda PF Xiali Calendar, with its offer of a precision take on the Chinese calendar over the long haul said to be a world first. In order to deliver on this, the watch conceals an extremely sophisticated mechanism within an all-new movement – the Calibre PF008 – which facilitates the display of classical Chinese characters. As the Chinese calendar is not cyclical, the complication is mechanically programmed and extends across 12 years via an intricate cam system.
For its part, TUDOR has debuted new versions of its Black Bay line in steel and yellow gold with a fixed bezel. These Black Bay 31, 36, 39 and 41 S&G models, as they are known, proffer a unique aesthetic with their T-curved cases intermittently highlighted with polished yellow gold sections. Fitted with Manufacture Calibres, including reference MT5201, one of the marque’s new family of movements, these models are said to be at the very cutting edge of technical watchmaking refinement.
Rounding off this month’s selection, Vacheron Constantin is looking to boost its appeal to the mainland and Hong Kong Haute horology aficionados and collectors by offering a customised rabbit-motif limited edition of its Métiers d’Art – The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac range for the Rabbit Year. The iconic representations appear on the dials and have to be etched directly into the metal, with the pattern remaining semi-embedded while standing out from its gold base thanks to a subtle array of accentuating reliefs designed to create an engaging depth effect.
(Text: Joseff Musa)