An intelligent, resourceful and adaptable animal, the rat is also—in the right light—a creature at once graceful and dignified. This 2020 will see the arrival of the Year of the Rat, according to the Chinese calendar, and one of these exquisitely fashioned timepieces would mark the occasion with a lasting memento.
Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat
All 88 dials of this limited-edition Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat (RM94,710) is a collaboration between the Swiss watchmaker and Yamada Heinado, a Japanese company that is an expert in the traditional lacquer art. The tiny quantities of resin harvested from the Urushi tree need up to five years of treatment before it is ready to be used; the resulting lacquer, applied in thin layers, is exceptionally durable. On this timepiece, flecks of gold dust complete the scene, which depicts a rat with its abundant bounty. The rest of the watch is classic Chopard elegance, 39.5mm in diameter; the gorgeously finished movement with signature micro-rotor is visible through the display caseback.
The timeless elegance of the Piaget Altiplano never goes out of style. This special edition, limited to 38 pieces, sticks to the formula: beautifully slim at just 6.6mm thick (thanks to the hand-wound ultra-thin calibre within), 38mm in diameter and finished with 78 diamonds adorning the bezel. The dial is by one of Switzerland’s most renowned enamel artists, Anita Porchet, and also reflects simple beauty; using cloisonné and grand feu techniques, it depicts a pair of white rats on a delicate grey background.
Harry Winston Premier Chinese New Year Automatic 36mm
Harry Winston has embraced auspicious tradition with eight-piece limited series liveried in red and gold. The framework motif is inspired by old paper-cutting techniques, and consists of solid rose gold lace atop red beaded mother-of-pearl. There are a total of 34 diamonds on the dial, serving as hour marks and decorative elements, clustered in different cuts as in the maison’s tradition. A further 57 diamonds decorate the 36mm rose gold case, and it is powered by an automatic calibre with 68 hours of power reserve and a flat silicon balance spring.
Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Relief Rat
One of four Year of the Rat-themed limited editions from Jaquet Droz, the Petite Heure Minute Relief Rat in white gold case (RM299,500) sports a deeply black onyx dial with hand-engraved and hand-painted white gold appliques. Pomegranates, an ancient symbol of life and fertility, are depicted with 57 rubies; one particularly large gem represents a seed clutched in the rat’s paws. The 41mm case also sparkles with 272 diamonds, and the self-winding movement within sports a silicon balance spring and pallet horns, and is double-barrelled for a total of 68 hours of power.
Blancpain Metiers d’Art Porcelaine
The consummate artistry of Blancpain’s Metiers d’Art workshops has, for the first time, been applied to the porcelain dial. The maison took over a year of development and testing to perfect its mastery of the traditional techniques, and here it is combined with enamel painting to create the resulting depiction of a trio of rats. Expressed in a ladies’ timepiece of classical persuasion, this svelte 33mm watch has a white gold case complete with 48 brilliant-cut diamonds set into the bezel and is powered by a by an impeccably finished automatic movement.
Panerai Luminor Sealand
This year’s Panerai Luminor Sealand (RM89,200 and limited to 88 pieces) completes a cycle. It is the twelfth edition of this watch, which began in 2009 celebrating the Year of the Ox. As with its predecessors, this year’s Sealand features a brushed steel 44mm case, with the dial concealed under a cover hinged at 12 o’clock. The cover is decorated using an old Italian technique known as sparsello; this involves a painstaking amount of hand-engraving, to which gold thread inlays are applied. For each watch and its Rat motif, this takes up to 50 hours to accomplish.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon
The Tambour Horizon (from RM14,400) is Louis Vuitton’s travel-oriented connected smartwatch, sporting exclusive features such as the LV City Guide travel app and My Travel watch face that helps keep track of flights and hotels. The watch has also just received a festive update with all 12 Chinese zodiac animals now available as new watch faces—including, of course, the Rat. These charming additions have designs that are a play on the house’s traditional leather goods motifs.