Esquire (Singapore) - - Watches -

we must as­sign blame, then it should in­dis­putably go to the year 2012, the year of the Black Wa­ter Dragon and the year where this whole busi­ness of Chi­nese zo­diac an­i­mals in­vaded lux­ury watch­mak­ing. For who could re­sist a beau­ti­ful hand­crafted watch adorned with the most pow­er­ful myth­i­cal crea­ture, some­times ac­com­pa­nied by a lit­tle ball of fire?

The Chi­nese loved them and also be­lieve that dragon years are the best years. So to boost sales and keep their share­hold­ers happy, Swiss brands went to town on this aus­pi­cious sym­bol of strength and good luck. Many were rather beau­ti­fully done while some looked aw­fully com­i­cal, like an Eddy Mur­phy-voiced Mushu–not a good thing.

In­deed, de­pict­ing ori­en­tal mo­tifs like a Chi­nese dragon is a spe­cialty unto it­self be­cause it’s all about the de­tails, which are some­times eas­ily missed by Western artists. A pic­ture of a dragon taken from the In­ter­net that looks at­trac­tive to a Cau­casian can be taboo to an Asian be­cause ev­ery­thing from its pos­ture and its gaze to its mouth and the num­ber of claws on each foot sym­bol­ises some­thing. With Swiss cul­ture so di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed to Chi­nese tra­di­tional be­liefs, one won­ders if this is any­thing more than a well-timed PR ex­er­cise to woo the Chi­nese buy­ers.

Af­ter the dragon came the snake, fol­lowed by the horse, and it be­came im­mi­nently clear that this fas­ci­na­tion with zo­diac an­i­mals isn’t go­ing away. But the brands have thus far worked with an­i­mals that are rel­a­tively easy to paint or sculpt in a nat­u­rally beau­ti­ful way. What’s go­ing to hap­pen when the year of the Boar comes around? Or the Rat? As it were, the Goat, Mon­key and Rooster year ones hardly caused a stir. It’s be­gin­ning to feel like brands were sim­ply go­ing through the mo­tions, just fin­ish­ing what they started and try­ing to ig­nore the drag that’s set­ting in.

So that’s six an­i­mals down, and six more to go. 2018 is the Year of the Dog and the usual sus­pects have each come up with a new ren­di­tion of man’s best friend on a watch, al­though there were a cou­ple of in­ter­est­ing sur­prises. Ca­sio of­fers an aus­pi­cious take on its stan­dard DW-6900 se­ries. The DW-6900CB1CNY18 is clothed in black and gold with a ce­les­tial dog mo­tif em­bla­zoned on the strap. In­spi­ra­tion came from the myth­i­cal Ko­mainu in Ja­pa­nese folk­lore, which are sim­i­lar to Chi­nese Fu dogs, which fun­nily aren’t dogs but lions.

An­other watch that’s spe­cially cre­ated for the Chi­nese Lu­nar New Year is the Gra­ham Chronofighter Vin­tage Nose Art Kelly Watch, and it surely can­not be any­thing more than a tonguein-cheek jape at ori­en­tal stereo­types. Jux­ta­posed with the overtly sporty de­sign of the case, our pin-up gal Kelly peeks co­quet­tishly be­hind a pa­per fan while show­ing a lit­tle (a lot of ) skin in that fig­ure-hug­ging cheongsam– red of course, the aus­pi­cious colour, to go with the sea­son’s best lanterns and cou­plets. We al­most missed the lit­tle white dog, name and breed un­known, but what’s cer­tain is this watch will bring about fun and laugh­ter wher­ever it goes. Take it with good hu­mour.

Brands like Ja­quet Droz, Vacheron Con­stantin, Ulysse Nardin, Pan­erai and Chopard con­tinue to add on to their Chi­nese zo­diac col­lec­tion. Most are beau­ti­ful in the way they’re in­tended, how­ever un­sur­pris­ingly, only the hand­some breeds were con­sid­ered–not a sin­gle pug (no of­fence to pugs). We can’t wait for 2019.


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