You’d have thought the design departments of watch companies had more than enough to inspire them without worrying about the Chinese horoscope, but for some such symbols are important. And for 2017, the symbol is the rooster.
So with the year of the Rooster upon us, dab hands are turning their skills to immortalising a bird that’s hardly a beauty, but in their hands hopefully becomes one.
The first three to come into view are from Jaquet Droz, who have form with birds, Ulysse Nardin, and, surprise, Panerai.
Panerai’s rooster is a specially worked 1950 Sealand 3 Days Automatic, a 44mm piece in steel. Each of the 99 watches produced for this edition has been adorned by hand by Italian master engravers using the ancient technique of “sparsello”, so named after the special tool used to decorate the cover.
The cover protects a grey dial, simple and easy to read, with Arabic numerals, linear hour markers and luminous dots, a small seconds dial at 9 o’clock and the date at 3 o’clock. The cover has a small signalling mirror on the back – handy for what? – and, as the name suggests, is fitted to the Luminor 1950 case. The movement is Panerai’s P.9000 automatic Caliber.
Jaquet Droz has opted for four models, two of which pay tribute to miniature painting, with Grand Feu enamel dials which are housed in 39 mm red gold cases and set with diamonds for the 35 mm model.
The rooster, which is accompanied by peonies to represent springtime renewal, is depicted on the underside of the hand-engraved oscillating weight in a watercolour style to echo Chinese calligraphy masterpieces.
Each model is unique, depicting true miniature paintings that reflect the artist’s skilled hand. To the left of the dial, bamboo shoots represent yet another promise of happiness, that of a year full of youth, rectitude and resilience in the face of adversity.
A miniature sculpture technique was used for the other two precious models. Limited to 28 pieces, the first Petite Heure Minute Rooster combines volumes of red gold with a dial inlaid with jadeite and mother-of-pearl, which are hand-engraved in the Jaquet Droz workshops.
Jaquet Droz has also created a limited edition of eight entirely hand-painted pieces illuminated by glistening rooster feathers that complement the diamonds featured on the pieces. Even the oscillating weight, crafted in gold, is engraved, patinated and decorated in jadeite.
All models feature a movement with a double barrel and a silicon escapement.
Finally to Ulysse Nardin, whose Classico Rooster uses the centuries-old champlevé method of enameling to bring the bird to life. This involves the carving of cells with a chisel directly on the dial, which are then filled with enamel. Ulysse Nardin describes the timepiece as “a reliable timepiece of elegant beauty, perfect for the courageous, confident individual with an instinct for success”. Not to mention the matter of $56,800 in the pocket.
Our thoughts on the rash of rooster watches? Not our thing, but you can’t argue with the workmanship. The Droz our pick for elegance.
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