Since 2013, Chopard issues an annual ultra-thin L.U.C XP Urushi watch. The Japanese urushi lacquer zodiac series is a highly anticipated watch collection with refinement, elegance, technique and aesthetic excellence. Partnering with the Japanese Imperial purveyors of lacquerware – Yamada Heian-Do – they are inspired by Oriental astrology and incorporating superb Swiss horology.
We can still wish each other “Happy New Year of the Rat!” as the Lunar New Year celebrations last for 15 nights from 25th January until 8th February 2020.
Despite the current global crises, we should look forward with optimism as it is the Year of the Metal Rat; a zodiac sign renown for intelligence and perspicacity. The rat is passionate, charming, intelligent and resourceful, as well as being a faithful friend, a generous family member and a source of optimism.
For detailed articles about the Art and Science of Japanese Urushi lacquer technique, please refer to previous articles on AlphaLuxe.com:
Year of the Dog [CLICK]
Year of the Pig [CLICK]
Meanwhile, lets marvel at the watch that Chopard created to honour traditional craftsmanship with a symbolic 88-piece limited edition in 18K rose gold. In this series of annual zodiac watches, East meets West at the Chopard Manufacture with the dials from Master Minori Koizumi of Yamada Heian-do Studio matched with the L.U.C 96.17-L movements.
The Chinese caledar cycle starts with the Year of the Rat because the canny rodent climbed onto the back of the buffalo (cow) to reach the dying Buddha, who had summoned all the creatures. Jumping off near the Buddha and scampering to arrive first of the top-12 animals, the rat caused the cat to only be in 13th position and without a place on the calendar cycle. Hence, the natural antagonism between those two species, to this day!
The dial depicts a golden rat, standing on an ear of corn, a symbol of abundance, and in front of a persimmon (kaki) fruit that is picked in winter to represent longevity. The rat faces a bouquet of flowers in the three lucky colours of its zodiac sign: blue, gold and green.
The 40mm diameter extra-flat (Xtra-Plat) watch, only 6.8mm thin, houses the ultra-thin 3.3mm L.U.C 96.17-L movement entirely crafted in-house at Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier. Despite the fineness of the movement, it still provides an incredible 65 hours of power reserve. Put it down on your bedside table, fully wound, on Friday night and it can still run until Monday morning.
I freely admit to personal bias but this is probably the best watch in the L.U.C XP Urushi Zodiac series, so far!
I liked many of the previous urushi Zodiac dials but I LOVE this Rat.
The golden rat is given a prominent position and artistically rendered. My favourite persimmon fruit is featured in glorious orange, that complements the gold dust sprinkled on the lacquer. The sweetcorn cob of abundance is reproduced sympathetically. Finally, the iridescent raden (mother-of-pearl) chips sparkle in shades of blue amongst the foliage.
You can join the watch forum discussion about this watch on Luxe178.com [CLICK]
L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat ($24,600)
88-piece limited edition in 18-carat rose gold
18ct rose gold
Total diameter: 39.50 mm
Thickness: 6.80 mm
Water resistance 30 metres
18-carat rose gold crown with L.U.C logo 4.00 mm
Vertical satin-brushed sides and inter-horn space
Polished bezel and case-back
Glare-proofed sapphire crystal
Mechanical self-winding L.U.C 96.17-L
Winding via a 22-carat gold micro-rotor
Total diameter: 27.40 mm
Thickness: 3.30 mm
Number of jewels: 29
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 65 hours
Two barrels, Twin technology
Bridges adorned with Côtes de Genève motif
Dial and hands:
Dial hand-crafted in Japan using the Urushi lacquer technique with a special Year of the Rat motif
Gilded Dauphine-type hours and minutes hands
Functions and displays:
Central display of the hours and minutes
Strap and buckle:
Hand-sewn black alligator leather strap with brown alligator leather lining
Polished 18-carat rose gold pin buckle
Ref. 161902-5069 – in 18-carat rose gold with special Year of the Rat dial
88-piece limited edition
Exclusively available in Chopard boutiques