China, being the biggest market for the world of haute horlogerie, has always been a major source of inspiration for luxury brands. As Chinese New Year draws closer, more and more luxury watch brands are rolling out specially designed timepieces that interpret the ‘Year of the Monkey’ in fitting ways that are historical, meaningful and innovative.
People born into the Year of the Monkey, the ninth of the 12 animals that make up the Chinese zodiac calendar, is traditionally known to be witty, mischievous and curious. Below are a few of the Year of the Monkey watches we found intelligent, creative and downright beautiful.
1. Jaquet Droz “Petite Heure Minute Relief Monkey”
Presenting four new creations for Chinese New Year, Jaquet Droz looked to the legend of Sun Wukong, or the Monkey King, drawing inspiration from one of Chinese classical literature’s most enduring characters.
The Petite Heure Minute Relief Monkey showcases a three-dimensional monkey sculpted in gold, against a background of black lacquer and foliage made from mother-of-pearl. Two versions are available, including one enclosed in a red gold case and another with a white gold case and inset diamonds. All four models boast a 68-hour power reserve and are available in a limited edition of only 28.
2. Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi “Year of the monkey”
Chopard’s interpretation uses an exceptional Urushi lacquered dial that is specially hand-crafted by master lacquer artists in Japan. Also inspired by Sun Wukong, the dial depicts a red-coated monkey gathering peaches on a branch. The ultra-thin self-winding L.U.C Calibre 96.17-L beats inside, which is visible from the transparent case back.
3. Piaget Altiplano Cloisonné Enamel Watch
To mark the arrival of the Year of the Monkey, Piaget enlisted the help of renowned master enameller Anita Porchet, who used cloisonné enameling to bring the dial to life. The seated monkey has a delicate glistening coat of fur, and holds up a peach, a symbol of immortality. The ultra-thin Altiplano watch is enhanced with an 18k white gold cast set with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds, and conceals a Piaget 430P hand-wound mechanical movement inside. Limited to 38 pieces worldwide.
4. Hublot Classic Fusion Monkey Artistic Watch
A unique take on Chinese New Year, Hublot’s timepiece is designed by influential Chinese artist Yue Minjun, who is best known for his oil paintings depicting himself frozen in laughter. Collaborating with Yue, Hublot pays tribute to traditional Chinese through a contemporary art interpretation of the Monkey King. Three versions of the limited edition watches are available. The rose gold and dark blue versions collectively contain 72 pieces, representing the Monkey King’s 72 metamorphoses. The Chinese red model is limited to 12 watches as a tribute to the traditional Chinese lunar cycle.
5. Blancpain Traditional Chinese Calendar – Year of Monkey
In a true tribute to Chinese culture, Blancpain introduced the limited edition Traditional Chinese Calendar timepiece, which combines the Gregorian calendar and the Chinese calendar into a single wristwatch. The feat is astounding, considering that each calendar follows a different cycle. Signs of the zodiac, as well as the five elements and the 10 celestial stems are also indicated. Limited to 36 pieces, the 45mm watch houses an automatic 3638 calibre with a 7-day power reserve.