Going the whole hog: Chinese Year of the Pig watches

Trotting into the new year, we look at how watch houses bring to life the pig on dials that celebrate the Chinese zodiac Year of the Pig.

Vacheron Constantin The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac  Year of the Pig close up

Chinese New Year kicks off on 5 February 2019 and welcomes the twelfth and last animal of the Chinese Zodiac: the Pig. People born in the Year of the Pig are said to be sensitive, diligent, jovial, honest, good-tempered, compassionate, generous, entertaining, extravagant and epicurean. These are all wonderful and highly desirable personality traits, but how do some of the top watch brands tackle the issue of representing a pig on the dial and still maintain the beauty – and price tag - of a high-end mechanical watch?

Walking a fine line, Piaget has created a watch to celebrate the Chinese Year of Pig that is adorable yet stylish thanks to the work of Anita Porchet who created the dials of this limited edition watch.  

Piaget has found a delightful solution and recurred to a likeness of one of the most famous pigs in childhood lore. Similar to Wilbur - as in the children's book Charlotte’s Web -  the pig on the dial of Piaget is truly adorable (above).  Housed in Piaget’s iconic Altiplano, which is ironically an ultra-thin mechanical hand-wound watch with a very slim profile of just 6.6mm, the representation of the animal was entrusted to enamel artist Anita Porchet. To create this miniature work of art,  Porchet used the technique of cloisonné enamelling in which tiny partitions made from gold thread are adhered to the surface of the dial and then filled with enamel pigments. Porchet’s mastery of the technique has resulted in the beast's lifelike grey and white coat and its rich, velvety texture and embellished with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds. As a Grand Feu enamel piece, the dial is fired multiple times in a kiln at temperatures of 800°C and then coated with varnish to protect the enamel for years to come. The watch is produced in a limited edition of 38 pieces.

Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac Year of the Pig watch in pink gold with Grand Feu enamel dial and hand -carved pig on the dial and day, day, hours and minutes read through the apertures on the dial.

Vacheron Constantin has gone for a hyper-realistic representation of a pig (above), complete with bristly hair and wizened eyes. Recurring to the talent of its artisans behind the brand’s exquisite Métiers d’Art collections, the Legend of the Chinese Zodiac – Year of the Pig watch is a showcase of artistic skills. Set against a background decorated with Chinese motifs, the floral and bird patterns are etched directly on the gold dial and accentuated with reliefs. The scenery is then treated to a Grand Feu enamelling process and each individual layer is fired in the kiln at high temperatures to enhance the blue or bronze tones of the dial. Smack in the middle of this elegant scenery is a wonderful hand-engraved pig made from platinum or pink gold. The quality of the engraving is superb and the pig reveals his appealing rotundity with lifelike effect. Making ample room for the pig, minutes, hours, date and day are read off the apertures on the dial, a complex mechanical feat in its own right. Two versions of the watch are available in either platinum or pink gold both powered by the mechanical automatic Vacheron Constantin calibre with a 40 hour power reserve.

Harry Winston’s Premier Chinese New Year Pig watch features a gold pig inlaid with slices of red and pink mother-of-pearl in a rose gold case set with 57 brilliant-cut diamonds. It is powered by a mechanical automatic movement and only seven of these watches will be made.

As you would expect from the brand founded by America’s legendary ‘King of Diamonds’, Harry Winston has housed its pig (above) in a luxurious pen of gleaming diamonds and mother-of-pearl marquetry. The bright red mother-of-pearl scenery is a direct allusion to China’s national flag and the magnolia flowers on the pig’s body were a symbol of female beauty and grace in ancient China. Once again, Harry Winston demonstrates its mastery of the delicate art of mother-of-pearl marquetry and the adorable pink gold pig is inlaid with slivers of red and pink mother-of-pearl. With his curly tail and raised snout, the pig’s diamond eye seems to be gazing at the constellation of diamonds on the bezel and dial. The large emerald-cut diamond at 12 o’clock is not just a nod to Mr Winston’s favourite emerald cut for diamonds, it also signals the presence of a mechanical automatic movement below deck. The rose gold case is set with 57 brilliant-cut diamonds and the watch is a limited edition of just seven pieces.

Under the Urushi lacquer dial, the Chopard new year pig watch has an in-house manufactured ultra-thin mechanical automatic movement of which only 88 will be produced and made from ethical gold.

Chopard has decorated the dial of its luxury L.U.C XP (ultra-flat) model using the ancestral Japanese art of Urushi (above). Like Piaget and Vacheron Constantin, Chopard has enlisted the skills of an artist, in this case Master Kiichiro Masamura, a Japanese lacquer expert.  Made from the sap of the Urushi tree, the resin used to create the dial is harvested but once a year in small quantities and has to rest for almost five years before its highly resistant, honey-textured qualities can be used. Depicted in a colourful forest, the golden pig, which is a symbol of abundance in China, is well-fed and has a plump tummy - a distinguished sign of joviality and only 88 of these porcine timekeepers will be produced. The watch is made out of ethically sourced gold, in keeping with Chopard's commitment since July 2018 to only use sustainably sourced gold in its entire production line.

 

Jaquet Droz  Petite Heure Chinese New Year pig watch for women in rose gold, is just like the men’s model, but smaller and set with 160 diamonds. Only 28 will be made of each version.

 

Jaquet Droz proposes two models for the Chinese New Year, one for men and one for women, in red gold cases and the characteristic off-centred dial of the brand’s elegant Petite Heure Minute collection. The art of miniature painting has been used to create the scenery on the dials of the watches and artistic symbols are used to relay the characteristics of those born in the Year of the Pig.  At the bottom of the dial, a calm, serene pig surveys the abundant wheat crops in a field. The women's version is set with 160 brilliant-cut diamonds and only 28 of each watch will be produced. 

 

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