We pick our favourite six Year of the Dragon watches

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It is a bumper crop of Year of the Dragon watches this year! Here is our pick of six of our favourites. And with Chinese New Year only a week away, it is not too late to get a watch to usher in the Wood Dragon!

We pick our favourite six Year of the Dragon watches

The Dragon zodiac is perhaps the most iconic of the traditional Chinese signs, with the Dragon signifying all things good. It represents majesty, power, and wealth. And often a symbol of the Imperial Emperor – the Son of Heaven.

And traditionally, especially for the very important Chinese market, watch companies have released new watches with the theme of the Chinese zodiacs. This Year of the Dragon is no exception. And from the vast number of options available, here is our pick of our favourite six.

Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Dragon

This is the 10th year that Chopard have presented an urushi watch to observer the Chinese zodiac. Each time, executed in métiers d’art style produced in the workshops of the century-old company Yamada Heiando by master artist Minori Koizumi.

The dragon looks particularly lively, and in traditional Chinese fashion, clutches a blue pearl, over a black background decorated with sparkles representing the stars. The entire watch is crafted from ethical gold. And the movement is Chopard’s magnificent L.U.C 96.17-L. The 88 piece limited edition watch is retailing for SGD 39.3k.

Arnold & Son Luna Magna Red Gold Year of the Dragon

Based on their now iconic 3D moon – the Luna Magna, the new release for the Year of the Dragon has the dial featuring an energetic looking dragon which is sculptured in red gold and hand engraved. The dragon appears to have its attention captivated by the 3 dimensional globe which shows the moon phases. The spherical moon here stands for both the moon, where the cycles of the Chinese lunar calendar is derived from, and also the pearl of wisdom that is inseparable from the dragon.

 The movement is the A&S1021 calibre, entirely developed, produced, assembled and adjusted at the manufacture. This manually-wound calibre, designed around the lunar globe. Available in two variants – each with eight pieces produced, featuring a large moon composed of red gold (5N) and pietersite or onyx, both priced at SGD 122.5k.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel Dragon

Another in their own custom. The JLC Reverso Tribute Enamel Dragon follows in the footsteps of the other Chinese New Year Reversos in the last years. And in the same fashion using a grand feu black enamel for the dial to look completely conventional from the front. But flip the case over, and the grand feu black enamel forms the background for engravers to create a dragon surrounded by clouds. Here the engraving is done by hand, by master engravers.

The watch is otherwise a standard Reverso Tribute with grand feu enamel dial. The same hand wound movement – the in-house manufactured Cal. 822 is used. And as a Métiers Rare piece, it is only available on special order at EUR 100k.

Swatch Year of the Dragon Collection

Next, we turn to the cheerful Swatch for their tribute rendition of the Dragon year. An inexpensive watch, like all Swatch offerings, so a watch for all, so to speak. And Swatch has released not one, but 5 watches with the dragon theme.

Our pick is the Dragon in Gold, which features the Slim line range as the base. The design is a gold toned watch which reminds us of the maki-e techniques used by Japanese craftsmen. Of course, the watch is not urushi by any stretch of imagination. After all it is a Swatch, and rather inexpensive. Priced at SGD 275, it is the most expensive in the line up, which starts at SGD 122.

Bell & Ross Artline BR 05 Dragon

The new Bell & Ross BR 05 Dragon is the first on this list to break the trend of having just a new dragon motif dial. Here, BR has opted to use their Artline series, where the dragon finely engraved not only as a motif on the dial, but also on the bracelet. The treatment of the dark ink in the pits of the engraved pattern gives it a bold, neillo style of effect of the play between black and silver. On the wrist, it bears an imposing presence. Perhaps in line with the aura of the dragon.

Other than the engraving, and the hands which are actually the whiskers of the dragon, the watch is a standard BR 05 automatic with the BR CAL.301 movement.

It is perhaps a pity that the engraving is done by laser rather than the traditional hand engraving, but that would certainly increase the cost of the watch by a large amount. As it stands, it is a (we think), a reasonable artistic premium over the standard BR 05 of about SGD 4k pitched at at a tad above SGD 11k.

IWC Portugieser Chronograph Year of the Dragon

And finally, and certainly not the least is the offering from IWC. Another watch which does not feature the dragon on the dial. In fact the new Portugieser Chronograph Year of the Dragon does not even have the dragon theme going on anywhere on the front of the watch. It is merely a Portugieser Chronograph with a brilliant burgundy red dial. But flip the watch over, and the case back reveals the dragon motif on the engraving on the gold plated rotor. This is the only reference to the dragon. A bit discreet, one might say…except for the burgundy red colour theme.

Priced at SGD 14.5k, the Portugieser Chronograph carries the tradition of this Chinese zodiac styling that IWC has been using for several years: 2023 saw the automatic Portugieser as the Rabbit watch, and 2022 had the Pilot’s Chronograph as the Tiger watch. Both only had the animal motif engraved on the rotor.

Concluding thoughts

So there it is! Our favourite six. What would be yours? Tell us in the comments.