Chopard Manufacture annually presents a new timepiece for the new Chinese zodiac calendar with an Urushi lacquer dial. This year, the L.U.C collection welcomes the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Tiger timepiece, an 88-piece limited series dedicated to the Tiger.
Press release information with commentary in italics.
It has become a tradition for the Chopard manufacture since 2013 to dedicate a collector’s watch to the sign of the Chinese new year based on the L.U.C XP ultra-thin model with a special art work made using the Urushi Maki-e technique. This year, to celebrate the Year of the Tiger, the new watch is a rather spectacular motif of the water tiger in urushi. We covered some of the earlier releases in detail in the following reviews
- Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi the year of the Monkey 2015
- Review: Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi the year of the Rat 2019
- Review: Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi the year of the Ox 2020
The urushi work is carried out by the same laquer master as with the earlier renditions – Master Minori Koizumi of the Yamada Heiando company. The house of Yamada Heiando as founded in 1919, more than a century ago, and continues to carry the Royal Warrant of the Japanese Emperor, and have been serving all the lacquerware in the Imperial household for the last 90 years.
The lacquer work is done by the traditional Maki-e technique. This is a tedious and time consuming process requiring great skill with the images captured between layers of lacquer drawn from the sap of the Toxicodendron vernicifluum tree. The tree’s sap is tapped by cutting horizontal lines on the trunk of a tree which is at least 10 years old. The greyish yellow sap is collected, filtered, heat treated and coloured. It is then applied to a base material to be lacquered. In this case the base dial material, which Chopard does not state, but typically this would be brass.
Layers upon layers are applied to the base, and cured between each application. The curing requires drying in a warm, humid chamber for 12 to 24 hours where the urushiol in the sap polymerizes to form a clear, hard and waterproof surface. In its liquid state, urushi oil is an skin irritant, and can cause extreme rashes. But once hardened, it is quite inert.
The depiction of the tiger standing over a rock, lording over its territory is with a fierce countenance. This is seen as a good omen in traditional Chinese beliefs, and ought to usher in a better Year of the Tiger than the Year of the Ox or the Year of the Rat before it has been.
The movement used is the exquisite L.U.C 96.17-L which needs little introduction, as it is a time tested movement used in earlier L.U.C XP models.
Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Tiger
Since 2013, Chopard has dedicated a collector’s timepiece to the sign of each Chinese zodiac year, designed on the basis of the L.U.C XP ultra-thin model, featuring a dial adorned using the Urushi Maki-e technique – combining lacquering and gold dust – within a highly symbolic stage-setting and systematically produced in an 88-piece limited series. In 2022, this tradition is embodied in an exceptional version eagerly awaited by collectors and made from ethical 18-carat rose gold: the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Tiger.
A highly symbolic timepiece
The Year of the Water Tiger will begin on 1 February 2022 and end on 21 January 2023. A sign of Earth and recurrent emblem in Chinese artistic depictions, the tiger has long been associated with the figure of the emperor and state dignitaries. It symbolises fortune, wisdom, intelligence and creativity. It is therefore a resolutely optimistic zodiac sign, an auspice that Chopard has seized upon in interpreting one of its most artistic creations.
The result of a meticulous craftsmanship process
True to tradition, Chopard works with the finest Japanese lacquer craftsmen, who produce dials using the ancestral Urushi lacquer technique. The 88 dials of the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Tiger timepiece are produced in the workshops of the century-old company Yamada Heiando and crafted by Master lacquer artist Minori Koizumi who devotes no less than 160 hours to this meticulous task.
In accordance with Maki-e technique, gold flakes – placed between layers of lacquer made from the sap of the Toxicodendron vernicifluum tree – light up a background featuring a tiger perched above a bay surrounded by cliffs, against a starlit background. Claws out and jaw turned sideways, it appears to be deliberately flaunting its strength and majesty. The lacquerer’s attention has been focused on each detail of this scene in order to reveal its blend of realism and lyrical beauty.
Exquisite technical refinement
The case of the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Tiger timepiece is entirely carved from 18-carat rose gold, sourced from an ethical supply chain pioneered by Chopard. It measures 39.5 mm in diameter and its slim bezel ensures a broad dial opening. In addition to its graceful design and refined ornamental execution, the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Tiger is also an ultra-thin timepiece measuring a mere 6.80 mm thick.
This thinness is enabled by a 3.30 mm-thick in-house L.U.C 96.17-L movement that is self-winding despite its extremely modest size. It is equipped with a micro-rotor – a small off-centred oscillating weight made of 22-carat gold – which is incorporated into the overall thickness of the calibre. Its strong inertia enables it to ensure efficient winding of the two barrels, which are stacked according to Chopard Twin technology and store the energy required for the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Tiger timepiece to offer a total 65-hour power reserve. Once off the wrist, it will remain on time and accurate for more than two and a half days, neatly corresponding to a long weekend.
Heritage meets modernity: 25 years of Chopard Manufacture
Since 1996, Chopard Manufacture has been reflecting the inspired vision of the Maison’s Co-President, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele. Twenty-five years after presenting its first movement, the Manufacture offers an exhaustive range covering the entire spectrum of horological complications, all crafted in-house in a blend of tradition and innovation.
Movement development, finished product design, gold smelting, stamping and machining of cases and movement components, engraving and traditional hand-crafted finishes, gemsetting, surface treatments, polishing, assembly, adjustments and quality controls: its Swiss workshops in Geneva and Fleurier enable Chopard to master the entire production process involved in each creation of the L.U.C collection. The work of experienced Artisans, these timepieces with their simple and pure design express the highest degree of mechanical sophistication.
Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Tiger Specifications
88-piece limited edition in ethical 18-carat rose gold
Ethical 18-carat rose gold
Total diameter 39.50 mm
Thickness 6.80 mm
Water resistance 30 metres
Ethical 18-carat rose gold crown with L.U.C logo 4.00 mm
Vertical satin-brushed sides and inter-horn space
Polished bezel and case-back
Glareproofed sapphire crystal
Mechanical self-winding L.U.C 96.17-L
Winding via an ethical 22-carat gold micro-rotor
Total diameter 27.40 mm
Thickness 3.30 mm
Number of jewels 29
Frequency 28,800 vph(4 Hz)
Power reserve 65 hours
Two barrels stacked according to Chopard Twin technology
Bridges adorned with Côtes de Genève motif
Dial and hands:
Dial hand-crafted in Japan using the Urushi lacquer technique with special Year of the Tiger décor
Gilded Dauphine-type hours and minutes hands
Functions and displays:
Central display of the hours and minutes
Strap and buckle:
Hand-sewn blue alligator leather strap with nubuck lining
Polished ethical 18-carat rose gold pin buckle
Ref. 161902-5076 – in ethical 18-carat rose gold with special Year of the Tiger dial.
88-piece limited edition.