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Watchmakers Celebrate the Year of the Rat

As we note annually, many watchmakers issue special editions celebrating the Chinese New year, which in the next cycle commences on January 25th, 2020. At the end of the calendar year 2019, we’ve spotted four such debuts. Three of these highlight the Year of the Rat using artistic dial-making techniques and one celebrates the Chinese New Year with a special case decoration.


The most recent debut notice we’ve received is from Panerai, which is celebrating the Year of the Rat with a limited edition of eighty-eight Panerai Luminor Sealand – 44 mm (PAM00863) watches, the brand’s twelfth special Chinese New Year edition.

It’s not the dial but the protective hinged steel cover on the watch that is specially decorated, here using an ancient Italian technique called sparsello. This technique is named after the cutting tool used to make incisions that are then inlayed with gold threads. These are carefully hammered to fill incisions, a process that can take up to fifty hours of work for each watch. Panerai depicts a whimsical rat surrounded by grapes on the steel cover.

The protective hinged steel cover on the watch is specially decorated using an ancient Italian technique called sparsello.

Panerai fits each of the decorated Luminor Sealand – 44 mm watches with its P. 9010 Caliber with a power reserve of three days provided by twin spring barrels. Water-resistant to 100 meters, the new Luminor Sealand – 44 mm is fitted with a gold-colored semi-matte calf strap with beige stitching, and it is presented in a pear wood box. Panerai also supplies the watch with a second strap of black rubber, a special tool for changing the strap and a screwdriver to remove the buckle. The watch is a boutique exclusive. Price: $23,600.


Blancpain's new Traditional Chinese Calendar, a specialty of the brand, celebrates the New Year as it combines Chinese tradition with the Gregorian calendar.

The animal of the year, the Rat, appears in a window at 12 o'clock and also on the white gold oscillating weight, visible from the back. On the dial below the rat is the double hours counter displayed in numbers and symbols. The well-known Blancpain moon phase style is highlighted in a window at 6 o’clock. The date according to the Gregorian calendar, associated with these indications, is read off around the rim of the chapter ring by means of a blued steel serpentine hand.

These calendar displays are driven by the automatic Blancpain 3638 movement, a Blancpain specialty with a seven-day power reserve made possible by the use of three series-coupled barrels. The caliber is housed in a 45mm platinum case with a ruby crown and ruby-set rotor. To more easily set the functions, Blancpain has developed and patented a series of five under-lug correctors.

Issued in a fifty-piece limited edition in platinum, Blancpain's Traditional Chinese Calendar is also available in an unlimited red gold version with a guilloché oscillating weight.


Again celebrating Asian traditions by utilizing the Japanese art of Urushi, Chopard debuts the 39.5mm L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat timepiece.

Chopard makes the dial using the traditional Japanese lacquer technique known as Urushi and combining the lacquer with gold dust. The scene depicts a golden rat, standing on an ear of corn, a symbol of abundance, and in front of a khaki, a fruit that is picked in winter and represents longevity.

The rat is facing a bouquet of flowers in the three lucky colors of its zodiac sign: blue, gold and green. Each watch is one of an 88-piece limited edition made in rose gold and powered by the ultra-thin L.U.C 96.17-L Caliber. Price: $24,600.

The L.U.C movement 96.17, found inside the Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat limited edition.

Jaquet Droz

To honor the Year of the Rat, Jaquet Droz will be releasing four new models in its Petite Heure Minute collection. Look for two red gold or white gold versions (in 35mm and 39mm) on Ivory Grand Feu enameling and miniature painting showing rats and pomegranates – all set with rubies. The white gold model features a case and buckle with diamonds. Jaquet Droz will issue these as a limited edition of twenty-eight for each gold color.

The 41mm model is available showing a rat holding a pomegranate, and on a black onyx dial. This design is offered in either red gold or white gold (case, rat, hands, and oscillating weight engraving--see below). As part of Jaquet Droz's Numerus Clausus artistic creations, these will be issued in a limited edition of eight pieces each. Prices begin at $30,200.
The staff of International Watch wishes all of our readers a safe and happy New Year!

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