Each Lunar New Year, watchmakers are presented with the opportunity to flex their creative skills in crafting watches reflecting the current animal of the Chinese Zodiac. While each of the animals were originally chosen for their positive attributes, some present more promising aesthetic opportunities for Switzerland’s masters of Métiers d’art than others: after all, who wouldn’t rather look at their new Year of the Dragon (next up in 2024) watch every day of the week rather than, say, a Pig (2031) or Rat (2032) watch?
This 2021/22 is The Year of Ox (or the Metal Ox to give it its full designation) which is associated with hard work and serenity. Here we look at eight of the best watches released to commemorate the second animal of the Chinese Zodiac.
Swatch Big Bold Ox Rocks 2021
Swatch knows better than any other brand how to turn the limited canvas of the humble wristwatch to any given subject, after all the plastic pop culture brand has been at the forefront of watch-as-art since 1983. Here the Ox Rocks 2021 uses the Big Bold collection as a platform for an red Oxen ying yang dial with gold tones representing the added Metal element of this year’s zodiac. Head over to Swatch to pick up Ox Rocks 2021 for $125 USD.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon Connected
Louis Vuitton‘s charismatic drum-shaped Tambour case made the transition from impressive mechanical watchmaking to smartwatch with charm to spare. Out of all of the smartwatches on the market the Tambour is by far the most compelling on the wrist and it’s travel-orientated UI and preloaded travel guides give it a sense of purpose missing from most of its competitors. Head over to LV to pick one up for $3,505 USD.
Arnold & Son Perpetual Moon ‘Year of the Ox’
Arnold & Son‘s limited run Perpetual Moon features a dial shared between a large mother of pearl moonphase indication (with added constellations) and a miniature painted scene on a textured haematite dial surface with a yellow gold bull in relief at the foreground. The moon, constellations and elements of the painting such as the windows are painted with Super-LumiNova to offer unusually detailed luminescent highlights. Just eight pieces of the watch are being produced, priced at $55,420 USD. For more details head over to Arnold & Son.
Blancpain Traditional Chinese Calendar
Blancpain always goes big with its Chinese New Year celebrations, and this year is no different with this 50-piece ‘Year of the Ox’ edition of its existing Traditional Chinese Calendar watch. Housed in a 45mm platinum case with a grand feu enamel dial the watch displays both Chinese and Gregorian calendars simultaneously and comes with a relief sculpture of an ox on its 18k white gold oscillating weight. Head over to Blancpain to see how this $87,800 USD watch displays the Chinese calendar.
Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’art Legend of the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Ox
The familiar four-window layout of Vacheron Constantin‘s Métiers d’Art collection, displaying hours, minutes, day and date, offers its artisans the maximum amount of uninterrupted space possible to create; whether that be with enamel, marquetry or engraving. Here, 12 pieces have been created in both pink gold and platinum with a hand-engraved ox set on a hand-engraved and enamelled dial and are priced at $107,000 USD and $130,000 USD respectively.
Girard-Perregaux Quasar Infrared
This piece-unique from Girard-Perregaux resides at the brand’s Hong Kong boutique at K11 Musea and eschews the symbol of the Ox altogether, rather choosing to pick out the red color associated with Chinese New Year for its vitality and energy. Encased entirely in sapphire crystal, the Quasar Infrared, uses the accent color on its hands, strap and mainspring barrel. For more details on the $319,000 USD Quasar Infrared (and its astonishing glass presentation case) read our full story.
Piaget Altiplano Year of the Ox
For it’s tribute to the Year of the Ox, Piaget turned to none other than Anita Porchet, the most celebrated enamelist working today. Porchet has crafted a muscular and wonderfully moody bull using the 4,000 year old cloisonné enamel technique, which sees thin gold threads used to sculpt an image before the recesses between them are filled with enamel powder and fired to build up the finished image. The project will have kept Porchet busy as 38 pieces have been created, housed in 18k white gold cases set with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds priced at £67,500 USD.
Breguet Reine de Naples 8955 Year of the Ox
Breguet have crafted what must surely be the most cheerful looking ox in this selection, it positively smiles as it seems to wrap itself around the dial. The cameo takes a father and son team of master engravers from Naples in Italy 20 days to hand-carve from natural shell while more than 2.8k of diamonds are set in the 18k rose gold bezel, crown and clasp. Just eight pieces are being made and are only available in selected territories priced $73,173 USD (from $567,300 HK).