Anchor Image: The grand master from Japanese urushi house Yamada Heinado at work on Chopard’s L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat
According to Chinese folklore, the rat made pole position on account of its wit and speed in a race to determine the zodiac order. Symbolising wealth and ambition in Chinese culture, this quick-witted animal features in these elaborately decorated watch dials.
01 | Pink gold or platinum? Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art The legend of the Chinese zodiac — Year of the Rat watch is offered in two variants. Both feature a hand-engraved gold or platinum rat sniffing at foliage etched on relief against a vibrant Grand Feu enamel dial.
02 | Piaget has Anita Porchet to thank for bringing to life a pair of curious white rats on the Zodiac Piaget Altiplano. Undoubtedly one of the biggest names in enamel art, Porchet used Grand Feu cloisonne enamel to lend a sense of lightness and elegance to the design. The rats are outlined in gold thread before being filled with pools of enamel in shades of grey.
03 | The rat’s artful ways is a source of inspiration for Chopard. Its L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat watch features a dial decorated with the Japanese lacquer art of urushi. The decorative work was completed by a grand master of urushi lacquer art from Japanese company Yamada Heinado. The scene depicts a golden rat standing on an ear of corn — a symbol of abundance — in front of a persimmon — a fruit that is picked in winter and represents longevity.
04 | Jaquet Droz offers two very different artistic expressions of the rat in four Petite Heure Minute watches. The Petite Heure Minute 35mm and 39mm watches show a pair of rats grazing on pomegranate seeds in Grand Feu enamel, while the dazzling Petite Heure Minute 41mm watches (offered in red or white gold) show the rodent carved on relief against an onyx dial, feasting on a juicy ruby pomegranate.
05 | Blancpain‘s iteration of the decorative rat dial also marks the first time the brand has worked with porcelain. The Métiers d’Art Porcelaine special edition features a white porcelain dial — created from scratch using a powder mainly composed of quartz, feldspar and kaolin — decorated using intricate miniature enamel painting. Because of the porcelain base, Blancpain artisans were able to fire the enamel decoration at a whopping 1,200 degrees Celcius — normally impossible for enamel dials on a gold base — resulting in particularly intense and vibrant colours.
06 | The most tongue-in-cheek of the bunch is likely TAG Heuer‘s Autavia CNY 2020 Year of the Rat Special Edition. The brand has replaced the one o’clock hour marker with a stylised 鼠, the Chinese character for the word rat. On the back of the watch, an adventurous-looking rat sits behind the wheel of a racecar, as a cute nod to TAG Heuer’s racing roots. The watch’s sporty bronze case is accented with a red dial and strap for a classic Chinese New Year colour combination.