By Rebecca Doulton
The last three animals to pass through the Chinese zodiac have been the dragon in 2012, the snake in 2013 and the horse in 2014. The Chinese zodiac features 12 different animals on its rotating roster, and depending on which year you were born, attributes of this animal are associated to your personality.
Well folks, this year is the official Year of the Goat - which also embraces sheep and rams - and kicks off on 19 February.
The goat is actually quite a nice animal to have as your zodiac representative. People born under the sign of the goat are gentle, gregarious, mild-mannered, persevering and very resilient. Consulting the sign in more depth, we discover that the goat also likes to spend money on the finer things in life to achieve a distinguished appearance, and this is precisely where the top Swiss watch brands step in.
For many customers, zodiac symbols are powerful talismans and several high-end watch brands deploy their full arsenal of artistic and creative techniques to produce limited editions of the animal in question.
Vacheron Constantin has created an exclusive limited edition - just 12 pieces per model - for its Métiers d'Art the Legend of the Chinsese Zodiac series with a Year of the Goat calendar watch. Powered by the calibre 2460 G4, the 40mm pink gold or platinum watch features four apertures for the day of the week, the date, the time and the minutes. Centre stage is dedicated to the goat with his long fleece lovingly etched in the metal surrounded by an Asian leaf motif, which is embellished with grand feu enamelling.
Piaget celebrates the animal of the Chinese New Year with its characteristic elegance. The handsome ultra-thin 38mm white gold Altiplano watch has been chosen to bear the enamelled goat motif executed by one of Switzerland's leading enamel artists, Anita Porchet. The soft shades of grey used to depict the background scenery and the proud ram with mighty curling horns have been achieved using the cloisonné enamel technique. The Altiplano Goat watch features 78 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel and is equipped with a Piaget 430P ultra-thin mechanical manual-winding movement in a limited edition of 38 pieces.
Chopard pays homage to the Chinese Year of the Goat resorting to the ancestral technique of Japanese lacquer work known as Urushi. The sap of the Urushi tree, native to China and Japan, is aged and used as a highly resilient - but notoriously difficult to apply - lacquer. To accentuate details of the pastoral scene of the goat frolicking on a bed of flowers, the Asian art of Make-e , which involves sprinkling the lacquer with gold dust, is also employed. The dial is housed in a gold 39.5mm L.U.C XP ultra-thin case and the hours and minutes powered by an in-house self-winding calibre with a 65-hour power reserve.
Jaquet Droz goes for the full sculptural effect on its two Ateliers d'Art models celebrating the Year of the Goat. Not one, but three rams are represented, perched on the summit of a craggy mountain. The gold 41mm Petite Heure Model with its offset hours and minutes sphere has been chosen as the vessel for this work of art, which includes a beautiful plum blossom background created with champlevé enamelling set against a white mother-of-pearl or black onyx background. The self-winding mechanical movement, exposed on the caseback, reveals the head of a ram mounted on the rotor.
It would seem that goats and rams are exclusively the domain of gentlemen, but Van Cleef & Arpels comes to the rescue with this delightful high jewellery Lady Arpels Zodiac Capricorn watch in a white gold case. Although it was not produced with the Chinese goat in mind, the astrological sign of Capricorn is also dominated by the goat and in this case celebrated with a beautiful green enamel dial (corresponding to the element of Earth) with touches of mother-of-pearl and white and yellow diamonds bringing the headstrong ram to life.
It will be interesting to see how these fine watchmakers approach the task when the Chinese zodiac determines we have reached the Year of the Pig in 2019 and the Rat in 2020.
See more animal watches here