In 2022, Feb 1 marks the beginning of the Chinese lunar year of the Tiger. In Chinese astrology, it is believed that the Tiger represents courage and leadership, and that its year tends to see major changes and plenty of excitement (we’re hoping it’s the good kind). In terms of aesthetics, the tiger is also one of the more glamorous creatures in the Chinese zodiac, lending itself beautifully to different artistic interpretations in the latest streak of Tiger-themed timepieces. Here’s a closer look.
1/ Piaget: Altiplano Year of the Tiger
Piaget’s ultra-thin Altiplano zodiac timepiece features the work of renowned enamel artist Anita Porchet, who has depicted the majestic beast in cloisonne grand feu enamel on the dials of the 38-piece limited edition. It is housed in a 38mm white gold case.
The 4,000-year-old art of cloisonne involves transferring the design onto the surface using thin gold wires to create tiny partitions known as cloisons, into which different enamel pigments are placed. The dial has to be fired in the kiln multiple times at temperatures at or above 820 degrees Celsius, and is varnished when completed. It’s an image that will never fade or lose its sense of grandeur.
2/ Vacheron Constantin: Metiers d’Art Year of the Tiger
In a 40mm case in platinum or pink gold, Vacheron Constantin’s Chinese zodiac watch features a hand-engraved, applied tiger in platinum or pink gold. With a cut-out style inspired by the Chinese paper-cutting art of jianzhi, the leafy background is engraved on the 18K gold dial. The blue or brown colour of the dial is created using grand feu enamel, where pigments are applied in careful layers and the dial is repeatedly fired at high temperatures.
3/ Harry Winston: Premier Chinese New Year Automatic
For its tiger-themed timepiece, Harry Winston has taken the soft-power route. Taking centre stage are two playful tiger cubs crafted from rose gold, with cut-outs filled with red mother-of-pearl representing their stripes. The dial also features three gold rosettes with a diamond at their centre — reflecting the patterns on the wrought iron gates leading to the brand’s flagship salon in New York City. It’s all housed in a 36mm rose gold case set with 57 brilliant-cut diamonds.
4/ Blancpain: Traditional Chinese Calendar
Housed in a 45mm platinum case, Blancpain’s self-winding Traditional Chinese Calendar features Chinese lunisolar calendar displays on a white grand feu enamel dial. The tiger is present in two no-so-obvious ways. Firstly, a discreet motif appears at 12 o’clock, and is one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac represented on an adjustable disc. The second, larger tiger is engraved on the rotor and can be spotted through the sapphire caseback.
5/ Chopard: L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Tiger
Chopard’s Chinese zodiac timepiece features an evocative tableau, with a majestic tiger standing above a bay surrounded by cliffs on a starlit night. The scene is crafted by master lacquer artist Minori Koizumi using the Japanese art of urushi maki-e, where gold flakes are placed between layers of lacquer made from the sap of the Chinese lacquer tree. The self-winding watch is presented in a 39.5mm, ultra-thin rose gold case.
6/ Jaeger-LeCoultre: Reverso Tribute Enamel “Tiger”
In itself, a deep, evenly black Grand Feu enamel surface is a challenge to achieve, involving repeated firings at high temperatures that can cause the enamel to crack or the metal to warp. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso Tribute Enamel “Tiger” ups the ante, requiring a master engraver to chisel an image onto a caseback that already had its glossy enamel coating. Requiring a total of 55 hours to create, the tiger image is created with a technique called modelled engraving, where differently sized chisels are employed. Housed in a pink gold case measuring 45.5mm by 27.4mm, this manually wound timepiece is made to order.
7/ Franck Muller: Vanguard Gravity Tiger
Franck Muller’s Tiger timepiece feels pretty dynamic, thanks to the large tourbillon of the Vanguard Gravity watch and a substantial case dimension (49.5mm by 41mm) that allowed the manufacture to seamlessly integrate a miniature sculpture of a prowling tiger. The tiger is crafted from brass by an expert in miniature sculpting. After being smoothened, it is hand-painted with a total of 36 layers of tinted, translucent lacquer. The timepiece is available in rose gold or white gold (shown), with 643 brilliant-cut diamonds on the dial and case; or in white gold with a black PVD coating, with 465 black diamonds on the case, as well as 63 green diamonds and 48 brilliant-cut black diamonds on the dial.
8/ Arnold & Son: “Year of the Tiger” Perpetual Moon
With one of the largest moon-phase displays on the market, Arnold & Son’s Perpetual Moon wristwatch lends itself well to vivid nocturnal scenes. Housed in a 42mm red gold case, this eight-piece limited edition features the use of hematite, mother-of-pearl and aventurine, as well as artistically placed lume that prettily lights up the image in the dark.
Standing on a riverbank, the tiger is sculpted from 18K rose gold, with all engraving and burnishing done by hand. The decorative bamboo in the foreground is painted with gold powder and set against a hematite dial with glittering inclusions. And of course, there’s that unmissable moon: Cut from mother-of-pearl enhanced with lume, it glows serenely against a background of black aventurine glass.