With watchmakers jumping in on the Lunar New Year festivities, here are some of the best dragon watches.
A confluence of East meets West sees a slew of dragon-themed watches unveiled this year in time for the Year of the Dragon. Watchmakers have jumped onto the bandwagon with special iterations, perhaps more so this year, given the general perception and fascination with the Dragon. The Dragon signifies many desirable virtues, and those born under this year’s Wood Dragon zodiac are considered energetic, strong, confident, gifted, intelligent and generous, while the year promises luck, prosperity, and economic success.
The annual Lunar New Year reunions and celebrations bring along festivities and stress packed into one. Tales of family interrogations (of your career choices), prying eyes (on your New Year threads) and wagging tongues (about relationship status) are common these days. While dressing on point — we mean fully decked in red — is getting tougher these days, here is an injection of red into your outfit, starting with watches, which makes for a good conversation starter or distraction at the reunion dinner table.
Hublot embraces the eternal symbol of the loong (dragon) and two ancient art forms of paper cutting and marquetry with the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Titanium Dragon. Hublot pays homage to wood through the natural fibres that form the soul and spirit of paper. The creation riffs on Hublot’s Art of Fusion DNA, roping in rising paper artist Chen Fenwan and her talents in paper cutting. Chen created a majestic loong artwork that serves as the inspiration for the special watch. Housed in a 42mm titanium case, the layered paper cut effects are transposed onto the dial. A multi-layer appliqué forms the loong’s head, riddled with Hublot’s signature touches (H-shaped screws as the loong’s eyes and watch hands as horns) and colours mimicking Chen’s paper sculpture. The loong’s silhouette extends onto an exclusive rubber marquetry motif strap resembling the loong’s scales. Only 88 pieces of the Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Titanium Dragon are created as another auspicious nod to the Year of the Wood Dragon.
In true Lunar New Year fashion, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph Year of the Dragon is outfitted with a vibrant red dial (burgundy, to be precise). The intense reddish-purple hue was chosen for its symbolism — individuality, intensity, ambition, power, and sophistication — in line with the dragon’s traits. Gold, another auspicious colour, complements the burgundy dial as the watch hands, hour indices, minute track and chronograph counters are clad in the precious metal. Flipping the watch over reveals another tribute to the Year of the Dragon: a gold-plated dragon engraved into the rotor of the IWC-manufactured 69355 calibre. An engraving of “2024 YEAR OF THE DRAGON” on the case back ring and the watch’s serial number are further nods to this special 1000-piece edition.
Jaeger-LeCoultre pays tribute to its artisans and the Year of the Dragon with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel ‘Dragon’. The maison’s inimitable swivelling watch captures the magnificence of the dragon on the enclosed case back, springing forth from golden clouds. An inky black Grand Feu enamel serves as the ideal backdrop for the engraved insignia to take centre stage as artisans utilise modelled engraving to bring the dragon to life. Instead of engraving on a bare surface, the engravers work on finished Grand Feu enamel pieces. The complexity is turned up a few notches as delicate is needed to not damage the enamel, with each piece requiring up to 80 hours and 10 differently sized chisels. Encased within a pink gold case, the watch dial is outfitted with the same black Grand Feu enamel as the case back, where the pieces undergo a repeated painstaking process of firing and cooling before polishing to achieve a perfect uniform shine.
Breitling soars into the Lunar New Year with an 88-piece limited edition iteration of the Breitling Chronomat B01 42 Year of Dragon. Available exclusively at Breitling boutiques in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia, the exclusive timepiece marries both Eastern and Western influences. The distinctive design of the Chronomat B01 42 Year of Dragon begins with a burgundy dial symbolising good fortune and prosperity housed in a 42mm stainless steel case with a platinum bezel plate. A trio of triple chronograph counters in inky black provides contrast and legibility, with a red dragon insignia housed in the nine o’clock subdial and on the sapphire case back.
TAG Heuer presents an auspicious duo of the TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph to welcome the Year of the Dragon. Available either in stainless steel or 18K 5N rose gold case, TAG Heuer’s racing heritage is harmoniously blended with Chinese culture. A pair of red “azuré” subdials at three and nine o’clock elevates the coveted reverse panda design contrasted by a silver or 18K 5N rose gold plated dial. Other subtle yet noteworthy touches of auspiciousness are seen on the red central chronograph hand and lacquered hour indices, with a calligraphic dragon character residing at six o’clock. The TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Year of the Dragon is limited to “One of 300” for the steel version and “One of 50” for the more exclusive range 5N pink gold version.
Bell & Ross
Bell & Ross celebrates the mythical dragon in the Year of the Wood Dragon with a bold and extroverted take on the urban Bell & Ross BR 05. Inspired by the world of tattooing, Bell & Ross captures the graphical codes of the dragon with an exclusive laser engraving technique on the Bell & Ross BR 05 Artline Dragon. A three-dimensional motif is brought to life with a play on lightness and shadows, achieved with varying fineness and thickness of the engraving strokes extending from the dial to the watch case and to the integrated bracelet. Each bracelet link is individually engraved to ensure the motif’s continuity from one component to the next during the final assembly, underscoring the complexity behind the laser engraving process. The Bell & Ross BR 05 Artline Dragon is limited to 99 pieces.
A blast of creativity, craftsmanship and horological pedigree come together for Ulysse Nardin on their exhilarating journey into the Year of the Dragon. To start the Lunar New Year on a high note, Ulysse Nardin released the showpiece Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon Dragon with a three-dimensional dragon sculpture guarding a precious pearl fronting the exquisite timepiece. A rose gold dragon slithering from the skeleton bridge is brought to life by hand engraving and micro painting, with a level of detail that took artisans up to four demanding days of crafting. The watch’s rose gold upper case, with its angular facets and its opulent variations in satin-brushed and polished finishes, is paired with a bezel and case middle in DLC-blackened titanium, all mounted on an integrated black alligator strap with a 5N rose gold and black PVD titanium folding clasp.
In 2012, Piaget released a capsule Lunar New Year collection to commemorate the various zodiac signs, starting with the Dragon. Now that the 12-year cycle has ended this year, Piaget will be releasing a renewed edition with another series of masterpieces, including the Piaget Altiplano High Jewellery Dragon. The virtuoso of legendary master enameller Anita Porchet reprises again in the Piaget Altiplano High Jewellery Dragon. Fine paillonné enamel work serves as the perfect backdrop for the gold-engraved Dragon, detailed with lacquered eyes and a black opal fireball within its claws. The Piaget Altiplano High Jewellery Dragon is limited to only eight pieces worldwide.