Every year, certain brands dedicate some of their watches to special editions, celebrating the Chinese Zodiac signs. The next Chinese year which begins on February 8th 2016 is to be ascribed to the Monkey (this year was the Sheep) and soon we’ll see some watches adorned in every which ways possible with this Zodiac sign on their dials. First to pull the trigger is Chopard, that introduced to us a watch mixing this theme with a superb dial, made by a Japanese master lacquer artist. Here is the Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi “Year of the Monkey”.
The meaning of the Monkey… For more than 1,000 years, the monkey of the Chinese zodiac calendar has conveyed positive symbolism. People born in the Year of the Monkey are considered smart, curious and drawn to knowledge. They are cultivated, inventive as well as creative. It is an ‘earth’ sign associated with good sense. Stubborn yet charming, the monkey loves to perform for an audience and is endowed with great self-esteem. The monkey gathering eight peaches is a traditional Chinese theme that symbolizes longevity and good fortune, since the peach stands for good health and eight is a lucky number.
In the interpretation chosen by Chopard, a red-coated monkey is perched on a branch laden with fruit. It is gathering peaches beneath a golden sky ablaze with the last rays of the sun. Behind it, golden valleys compose a warm scene in soft tones that make a perfect match with the warmth of the 18k pink gold.
Alongside the look of this dial, the most interesting part (for us, watch-geeks) comes from the technique used. This dial, as well as all the previous Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi editions, is made with a specific traditional Japanese lacquer called Urushi. Urushi lacquer comes from the sap of the “lacquer” or “Japanese varnish” tree. It is skillfully harvested, aged and treated to become a transparent lacquer that is applied in a series of extremely fine layers. The Urushi master uses it to imprison gold dust motifs created using the extraordinarily meticulous Maki-e technique. The precious gold dust will be carefully apposed, with small bamboo tubes or extremely fine brushes, to create or underline a motif.
Chopard works with the firm Yamada Heiando, official purveyor to the Japanese imperial family. Raised to the rank of “living human treasure” in Japan and acknowledged as the finest exponent of his art, Master Kilchiro Masumura has designed and supervised the creation of all dials, which were executed by Master Minori Koizumi, an Urushi master chosen by Chopard for his extreme artistic mastery.
This specific dial is cased into a known watch, the Chopard L.U.C XP – the 2-hand edition of the Chopard L.U.C XPS. The round, understated 18 pink gold case measures 39.5mm x 6.80mm, making it an elegant and dress watch. This watch, that we know very well here at Monochrome-Watches, is certainly one of the most elegant “tuxedo watch” we know. The other attraction is for sure hidden on the back side. The Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi “Year of the Monkey” features the superbly finished and slim calibre L.U.C 96.17-L, a micro-rotor movement with double barrel, for 65 hours of power reserve. It is finished with Geneva stripes, fine circular graining and polished beveled angles on the bridges. The micro-rotor is made of 22k gold and engraved with the L.U.C logo. This movement archives to combine a great thinness (3.30mm) together with a large power reserve and an efficient winding – as we’ve seen with the Chopard L.U.C XPS in Fairmined Gold.
This Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi “Year of the Monkey” is a special but not limited edition – however, considering the technique used for the dial, the production numbers will be low. Price: to be confirmed / approximately 22.000 Euros. www.chopard.com.