Chopard is once again honouring Asian traditions by calling on the ancestral Japanese art of Urushi to create the dial of the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat timepiece. This work of art highlights the theme of the next zodiac sign in the traditional Chinese calendar: the Rat, renowned for its intelligence and perspicacity. Each of the watches in this refined and powerfully symbolic 88-piece limited edition crafted in 18-carat rose gold is powered by an ultra-thin movement produced in the Chopard Manufacture workshops: the L.U.C 96.17-L calibre.
The quintessence of Urushi, the ancestral Japanese art of lacquer, is associated with the most refined expression of Swiss watchmaking according to Chopard, thereby giving rise to the new L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rat 88-piece limited edition available exclusively through the brand’s network of boutiques. Chopard, the Artisan of Emotions, is introducing its customary annual celebration of a new Chinese calendar cycle with an expressive dial brimming with symbolism.
The Chinese calendar cycle actually commences with a year of the rat and one of the legends surrounding it tells the story of when the historical Buddha summoned the animals before entering Nirvana. The rat is said to have climbed on the buffalo and arrived first, relegating the cat to 13th position and thus depriving it of a place in the calendar – which explains the legendary antagonism between these two creatures. The Year of the Rat will begin on January 25th 2020 and end on February 12th 2021.
Art and serenity
The dial of this new watch dedicated to the Chinese Zodiac is entirely hand-crafted. It gives pride of place to Asian culture by using the traditional Japanese lacquer technique known as Urushi and combining the lacquer with gold dust. The scene depicts a golden rat, standing on an ear of corn, a symbol of abundance, and in front of a khaki, a fruit that is picked in winter and represents longevity. It is facing a bouquet of flowers in the three lucky colours of its zodiac sign: blue, gold and green. Thus, as traditionally represented in the Chinese Zodiac, the rat is passionate, charming, intelligent and resourceful, as well as being a faithful friend, a generous family member and a source of optimism.
An age-old Japanese pictorial art
The varnish used in this ancestral lacquering art comes from the sap of the Urushi tree, also known as the “lacquer tree” or the “Japanese varnish tree”, which actually grows in both Japan and China. Its resin is harvested once a year in extremely small quantities. Only three to five years afterwards is the resin at last ready to be treated and thus become a highly resistant, honey-textured lacquer that is applied in extremely fine successive layers.
The 88 dials of this limited series were created through cooperation between Chopard and its loyal partner company, Yamada Heinado, where the grand master of Urushi exercises his craft. This is one of the many demonstrations of Chopard’s deep-felt attachment to celebrating rare skills and artistic crafts.