“Above us, outlined against the brilliant sky, dragons crowded every available perching space on the Rim. And the sun made a gold of every one of them.”
Anne McCaffrey “Nerilka's Story”
In connection with the beginning of 2012, which, according to the Eastern calendar, is known as the Year of the Black Water Dragon, numerous prints and online sources are full of pictures of dragons and tell us about the legends, associated with these fire-breathing mythical creatures. "Dragonomania" could not pass by the watch business, which is also "invaded" by various representatives of the dragon world. People have been interested in Dragons since time immemorial, they were studied, classified and compared with each other as if they actually existed. As a result of active researches the science, studying dragons - dragonographics or dragonology, appeared. The phenomenon of dragonism is one of the “-ism” or self-identification types, as a being different from man. Simply put, there are people, who consider themselves Dragons, these are the individuals, who belong to the dragon community. By the way, the dragon community also includes persons, interested in Dragons. Well, then all the watchmakers, who use the dragon theme in their watch models, can also be referred to this group.
The history of such characters development, as dragons, counts more than one thousand years, so the modern Dragon is a creature that has no two identical images, and each culture interprets its meaning in its own way. Since we are talking about Dragons, then I will give a somewhat simplified classification of these animals. Thus, Dragons can be Western European, Eastern and American. The Western European monsters in their turn are divided into subspecies, among which there are, for example, fantasy dragons, heraldic, classical, etc. Also, the perception of these creatures is different: Christianity believes Dragon is a devil incarnate, the son of Satan, but the oriental culture almost worships it, seeing wisdom, success and unlimited happiness in Dragon. By the way, the Chinese people believe that Celestial is the Dragon’s birthplace, and only later those animals spread throughout the world. Moreover, the Chinese dragon had five toes on each paw, and when it hit the road (on foot, because it couldn’t fly), then it lost its fingers. The farther the Dragon went, the more fingers it lost, so the Dragons of Korea and Vietnam have by four fingers, and the Japanese beast - only three. However, when the "prodigal son" returned home to China, all its fingers grew back. Until now, China honors and respects the creature, it even took a special time: in Chinese days the period from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. is called "Dragon Time". There is a legend about why the roofs of Chinese pagodas have curved top edge. So, when the roofs were usual, the Dragons loved to ride on them, as children on ice slides, thus harassing the Chinese people, as incredible noise and rumbling were in the whole district.
Studying the nature and characteristics of Dragons is extremely interesting. I’ve come across an interesting fact: in German there is the word “Drachenfutter”, which translates as "dragon forage". This word is used by the ingenious Germans to call a gift that a guilty husband brings to his wife, for example, when he comes home late, and even drunk. The Germans imagine the wife as a furious Dragon, whose hot breath burns the negligent husband, if he does not present the "feed" in time. While working on a variety of sources associated with the Dragons, I often caught myself thinking about these creatures, like real characters, not fictional heroes of myths and legends. I have the feeling that the Dragons have come to life and are "wandering" somewhere nearby. Although, who knows, maybe it is so. At least, the Dragons really "live" on the new wristwatches. By the beginning of 2012, many watchmakers have put up for public viewing the women's and men's watches, dedicated to this fire-breathing monster. Such popularity of Dragons in the watch area is due, firstly, to the symbol of 2012, to the "ruler" of this year, which, of course, must be honored. And secondly, the cult of Dragon is extraordinarily beautiful, the greatness and the magic of this creature literally compel attention. In addition, due to the great varieties of this character, the watchmakers have a space for flight of imagination.
Kudoke Golden Dragon — «fire-breathing monster" by Stefan Kudoke
A talented artist and watchmaker from Germany, Stefan Kudoke, known as the creator of amazingly beautiful watches, before founding his own watch company, worked in such legendary manufactories like Glashütte Original, Breguet, Omega and Blancpain. Gaining a priceless experience, Stefan Kudoke began producing watches under his own name. In last few months, the German watch company Kudoke addressed all its forces and creativity to the design of new and unique model “Kudoke Golden Dragon” in honor of the great symbol of 2012 - the Dragon. A distinctive feature of this model is the fact that “Kudoke Golden Dragon”, because of a relatively small diameter of the steel case of 38 mm, can be worn by both men and women.
To mark the Year of the Dragon at the Basel World Exhibition in 2012, Stefan Kudoke released a watch under the name “Kudoke Golden Dragon”. We have to admit that the motive of the Dragon on the watch due to the year of 2012 cannot be called original, but can’t help but pay attention to this piece of art! According to the name, the magnificent Chinese dragon is covered with gold, and its figure is carved in a solid piece of sterling silver (sterling), which is often used by the German watchmakers by the technique of so-called relief engraving on the entire surface of the dial. Sterling is an alloy, consisting of silver (about 92%) and copper. The use of such material, instead of pure silver, is explained by the fact that silver is too soft to create items, like watches, so it is combined with copper, but the original beauty of the precious metal is preserved in its entire splendor. Also, instead of the Kudoke Dragon’s eyes two sparkling diamonds that add luxury to this watch are inserted. All elements of engraving are made exclusively by hand with the use of traditional tools and accessories. The dragon appears in front of the audience also from the back case where he holds the central part of the automatic movement in its claws.
By the way, the movement inside the "Dragon" by Stephen Kudoke also impresses by its magnificence, it is skeletonized and engraved by hand. The caliber, feeding the men’s watch “Kudoke Golden Dragon”, is just a "workhorse" ETA-2824, but the advantage of the “Kudoke Golden Dragon” movement consists in a huge craftsmanship that is demonstrated by the masters at skeletonizing and engraving of the popular Swiss caliber. In general, the new watch “Kudoke Golden Dragon” can be called a kind of "jolt of fresh air," this model stands outside the traditional time meters, showing us inexhaustible possibilities of modern watchmaking. The watch “Kudoke Golden Dragon” can be worn on a leather strap of black color. Speaking in an interview about the work done, master Stefan Kudoke says: "The dragon represents luck, wisdom and grace, but at the same time, this beast has an explosive temper. Therefore, we have "imprisoned" the Dragon between two sapphire glasses to protect the owner of the watch from his fire breath and sharp claws!"
"Dragon" from gambling world by Christophe Claret. "Everyone places his bets on luck"
Excellent Swiss watchmaker Christophe Claret conquered the whole watch world, presenting his amazing wrist watch for men called Baccara. This model is unique being a mini-casino, which includes three gambling games: Baccarat (card game, in which the players must collect as many points as possible, using two or three cards), roulette (the essence of the game is that the dealer runs the roulette wheel and ball in opposite directions, and the ball must fall into one of the cells with a number, making not less than three complete rotations) and dice (one of the most ancient games, which uses cubic in a number from one to five, depending on the variety of game). The mechanical "wonder" that is the exclusive movement, designing of which took the watchmakers more than a year, completes the aesthetic "wonder" - a unique sapphire crystal dial, which is adorned by an image of Dragon, having become a popular motif in wristwatches of 2012. I should add that the new men's watch “Christophe Claret Baccara Dragon” is among the watch masterpieces, which form a revolutionary field of chorological innovations, launched by brilliant Christophe Claret. Among his legendary time meters there are watches that are characterized by their, so to say, somewhat jokingly or playing "nature", but at the same time, representing the pinnacle of watchmaking and the sophisticated movements from Haute Horology. The men's wristwatch “Christophe Claret Baccara Dragon” is a topical novelty, which is officially presented at the Swiss fair Basel World 2012.
While developing that watch, the creator drew inspiration from the mysterious and fascinating world of gambling, which have always interested and attracted Christophe Claret. “I am not a gambler myself, but I love watching how players behave in casinos, - the watchmaker says. I recently had the opportunity of visiting one of them backstage in Macao. That was a rich learning experience". Apparently, this experience has identified the development way of one of the most talented watchmakers in the world. As for the watch “Christophe Claret Baccara Dragon”, the whole world does not cease to admire it. In this masterpiece, three most popular games "get along" with each other: baccarat, roulette and dice. However, the games do not prevent the watch from fulfilling its direct task - to tell time by means of two large central hands (hour and minute). It seems that the cards appear on the watch dial in some magical way. In position of "6" hours, the player's cards are distributed in three small apertures. The bank cards are viewed through the apertures at "12 o'clock". The cards are reshuffled by pressing the button in position of "9" hours, the button at "8 o’clock" allows you to distribute cards to the player, and the button at "10 o’clock" - to the bank. In addition to visual effects, all operations are accompanied by sound effects that mostly approximate the watch “Christophe Claret Baccara Dragon” to the atmosphere of the casino. Dice is displayed in the windows on the side of the case, where you can also see a hammer and gongs, responsible for watch "voice". The transparent back case shows us a great roulette wheel in 3D-image, which begins to rotate at the movement’s rotor motion.
The ultra-precise caliber BCR09 with automatic winding, consisting of more than 500 parts, is responsible for all this splendor. The movement with seven double sets of ceramic ball bearings and two drums works at 40 stones and has a power reserve of about 72 hours. The balance varies at frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour.
Christophe Claret presents his men's wrist watch “Christophe Claret Baccara Dragon” in two ways: in the case of 18-carat pink gold and titanium with black PVD coating, as well as in the case of 18-carat white gold and titanium with black PVD coating. On the bezel of 45-mm case there are black lacquered hour markers that are specifically "moved" from the dial, freeing up a space for the game "table." The massive case is waterproof at 30 meters. Speaking of the great "gambling" watches, we have completely forgotten about the main theme of 2012 - the symbol of Dragon. Creating his men’s watch “Christophe Claret Baccara Dragon” with games, Christophe Claret has not lost sight of the new "governor" of 2012 - the Dragon. The black figure of this creature is put on the sapphire crystal, of which the dial is made. The Dragon, laser-cut in the process of sapphire crystal metallization, stretched out his powerful body on the surface. Still the large figure of mythical beast does not interfere with the process of watching the game, unfolding under the dome of sapphire glass. The master himself believes that the Dragon, symbol of luck (he calls it an ideogram), is located in this way to protect both the watch movement and the owner of the time meter.
Each model will be supplied on a black crocodile leather strap with gold buckle, which is equipped with special safety system that prevents the precious case from damage at replacement of strap. One must admit that careless handling of this watch masterpiece is "an unattainable luxury", as the level of complexity of this watch is simply fantastic, as well as the price: it is more than USD200,000. However, neither high price nor strictly limited number of issued watch “Christophe Claret Baccara Dragon” (by 9 copies of models of two types of gold) will stop the true connoisseurs of Haute Horlogerie, who, fallen for an incredibly strong excitement, will do everything possible to buy a watch by Christophe Claret with the symbol of Dragon, which will undoubtedly bring its owner good luck in the most difficult game in the world - in real life. The famous watchmaker says that the idea of creating "gambling" watch with the symbol of Dragon has come into his head during a tour to the Macao Casino. “When I visited the Macao casino, I realized that most of the players were superstitious. They have their lucky talismans next to them, or they might destroy several decks of cards before starting a round. When you witness that sort of behaviour, it’s really incredible. What’s more, some players tend to gather around certain tables and shy away from other ones, as if those chosen tables will bring them luck. Luck – everyone counts on luck! That is what I wanted to symbolize with this ideogram."
Piaget Dragon & Phoenix — the harmony of Yang and Yin
The Swiss watchmaker “Piaget” thoroughly prepared for 2012, presenting its new models of watches from the collection with the beautiful name "Dragon & Phoenix” at the Geneva SIHH 2012 exhibition. This collection includes more than 20 watch novelties, devoted to the Year of Dragon. The Swiss company “Piaget” already has in its rich “piggy bank” a line of wristwatches “Dancer Zodiak”, the dials of which are adorned with 12 animals of the eastern horoscope, but the wristwatches of 2012, devoted to dragon, form a single line of the manufactory. Such heightened attention to the dragon is due to the fact that, according to the representatives of Piaget, this creature is the only mythical character in the eastern horoscope, which symbolizes imperial power, strength and nobility. It is believed that the Year of Dragon is the happiest period of all 12-year cycle. In Chinese culture, phoenix symbolized the empress, grace, virtue and prosperity. Therefore, the company “Piaget” presents watches with dragon theme for men (Yang) and models with pictures of Phoenix for women (Yin).
According to experts, the new collection of watches “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix” will undoubtedly become a hit because of high demand on these "cultural" time pieces in China. In addition, the Year of Dragon is going to be more than successful for the company “Piaget” in terms of sales at both Asian and European markets. Below we’ll consider some of the most outstanding male and female watches from 20 models of the collection “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix”. To buy a watch from Piaget of 2012 theme, you need to address to the official representatives of the company.
Piaget Dragon & Phoenix Altiplano with silvered dials
For the collection “Dragon & Phoenix”, the Swiss company “Piaget” has created new variations of its superfine watches “Altiplano”, the case thickness of which doesn’t exceed 5.25 mm. The Men's watch “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix Altiplano” with the Dragon has a 38 mm diameter of case, and for the beautiful half of humanity the manufactory presented the ladies wristwatch with Phoenix, the case of which has a diameter of 34 mm. The watch “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix Altiplano” with silvered dials is made of 18 carat rose or white gold, the bezel is decorated with 78 luxury diamonds weighing approximately 0.7 carats. The images of mythical animals are applied on the dials with the use of enamel technique “Grand Feu” (the artist applies powder on the glassy surface, which after heating in a furnace melts and freezes, forming a unique pattern. Both male and female models are equipped with ultra-thin calibers Piaget 430R (thickness is only 2.1 mm) with a manual winding, working at 18 stones with a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour. The power reserve is 40 hours.
Piaget Dragon & Phoenix Altiplano with enamel dials
The next version of famous “Piaget Altiplano” in honor of the Year of Dragon is a wristwatch with 38-millimeter case of 18 carats white or pink gold, which is adorned with an amazingly beautiful image of Dragon or Phoenix. The bezels, as in previous versions, are decorated with matchless diamonds in the amount of 78 pieces, the total weight of which makes up 0.7 carats. A unique feature of these watches is "portraits" of mythical animals, written by talented master Anita Porchet. Anita Porsche is a famous Swiss artist, working with enamel technique, and her masterpieces of art are truly unique, they have individuality that is easily recognized. The artist also makes dials for the watches of such legendary companies as Ulysse Nardin, Vacheron Constantin, Jaquet Droz, Hublot, Roger Dubuis and others. To decorate the watch “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix Altiplano” she used cloisonné, when the finest gold or silver bands are "soldered" to the surface of the dial. It turns out that the contours of the figure are clearly outlines by these bands that can be seen at close look at the new watch by Piaget. On the watch dials, in the position of "5:30", the initials "A.P.", which do not require decoding and explain who is behind each of gorgeous enamel dial, show off. Each model “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix Altiplano” with enamel dial is released in a limited edition of 38 copies. The back case is engraved with Chinese character, symbolizing the Dragon (or Phoenix), and individual number of the model. Inside the ultra-thin case of Swiss watch the abovementioned ultra-thin movement Piaget 430P is ticking. The movement is decorated by hand in the style of Cotes de Geneve, beveled. We should admit that the watchmakers of Piaget were focused less on the technical aspect of the watch, than on the aesthetic at the design of "Dragon" collection. Indeed, the laborious hand-work of genius enameller is worth of admiration. "Dragon" from Piaget is completed with a brown leather strap and gold “thorn”-buckle, and the female model with the bird Phoenix is equipped with snow-white crocodile leather strap with gold buckle.
The name of this model by Piaget can be translated from French as "double game” ("Double Jeu"). The design idea of new wristwatch fully justifies such an interesting title, because each of these models has two cases. The outer case is decorated with three-dimensional image of Dragon or Phoenix. The majestic animal is hand-carved from a single piece of white gold, decorated, and inserted into sapphire crystal. Under the outer case with a golden figure, which can be easily opened by pressing the button at "3" hours, a completely "clean" silvered dial, lack of counters and time scale, hides. Two central hands run on it in circles. For easy time reading, the upper case leans back to 120 degrees, fully revealing the dial hidden beneath. The Dragon, located on the outer case, is decorated with 38 diamonds (total weight is about 0.2 carats), and two red rubies (weight - 0.002 carats) serve as the dragon’s eyes, who holds in his powerful clawed paw a pearl - a sign of its vitality and wisdom. By the way, the beast on the case is an indigenous "Chinese", with all five fingers. The women's watch with a figure of phoenix on the outer case shimmers with diamonds: 60 baguette-cut gems weighing approximately 4.6 carats are located on the bezel, and 500 diamonds (3.5 carat weight) decorate the sides of the watch case, the staples, and the button opening the case, the crown and even the outer ring of the back case. The amazing Phoenix is decorated with 355 magnificent diamonds (0.7 carats), and two blue sapphires sparkle in its eyes.
Both women and men "two-faced" Piaget watches have a fairly large case of 43 mm diameter, made of 18 karat white gold. Because of the opening button at "3" hours, the crown is slightly moved down to "4" hours. The most striking thing is that despite two cases, the new watch “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix Altiplano "Double Jeu" is only 12 mm thick. Not surprisingly the men's and women's watches “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix Altiplano "Double Jeu" are released in a strictly limited number - by 8 copies of each model. The men's watch “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix Altiplano "Double Jeu" is offered with a black crocodile leather strap with gold folding buckle, and the female model with Phoenix is completed by a white leather strap and gold buckle, decorated with 26 diamonds weighing 0.4 carats.
It’s not easy to tear your eyes away from the beautiful appearance of the watch, but the movement is also worth to look at. Inside the watch “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix Altiplano "Double Jeu" a super-slim hand-wound in-house caliber Piaget 830R with the power reserve of 62 hours works. The height of the caliber is only 2.5 mm, and the balance frequency - 21,600 vibrations per hour. The caliber, decorated and engraved by talented craftsmen, is built on 19 stones of 131 components.
Piaget Emperador и Piaget Emperador XL — Imperial Dragon for "imperial" watch
The men's wrist watch “Piaget Emperador” in honor of the Year of Dragon is presented in three versions: in rectangular case of 18-karat white gold with 171 diamonds weighing 2.1 carats, in case of 18-carat pink gold decorated with 171 diamonds weighing 2 1 carat, and in case of 18-carat pink gold without diamonds. Each of these versions is numbered and strictly limited. A 3D gold figure of the Dragon (the material is the same as the case material), adorned with 85 diamonds weighing 0.09 carats, is situated on a gray rectangular dial. The dragon stretched its mighty body across the surface of the dial, forming an "eight" - a Chinese symbol of prosperity and success. "The pearl of life" of this Dragon is the automatic caliber Piaget 534R, operating at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour and providing a power reserve of 40 hours. Two central hands count hours and minutes. The ideogram of Chinese dragon shows off on the back case. The grey alligator leather strap and “thorn”-buckle of 18 carat white or pink gold allow wearing the Imperial Dragon of Piaget on wrist.
The men's wrist watch “Piaget Emperador XL” (Reference G0A36577) with imperial "title", released in a symbolic amount of 8 pieces, differs from the above models by a unique complication - tourbillon. The design of rectangular case, made of 18-carat pink (or white) gold, is like the men's watch “Piaget Emperador”. The Chinese dragon has also "settled" on a gray dial comfortably, curled up in a figure of eight. The figure of the animal is encrusted with 257 diamonds weighing approximately 0.3 carats. The dial design is great: at "12 o'clock" there is flying tourbillon, and opposite to it, in the position of "6" hours - an indicator of 40-hour power reserve. Hours and minutes are counted by two central hands. The small second hand is located on the carriage of minute tourbillon, which is the thinnest tourbillon with a second hand. It is not surprising, as thin details are Piaget’s forte. The ultra-thin in-house caliber with manual winding Piaget 600r (thickness is 3.5 mm), feeding the men's wrist watch “Piaget Emperador XL”, works on 24 stones at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour. The image of Dragon is completed by gray alligator strap and folding clasp of 18 carats rose gold.
Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif Dragon Piece Unique – union of technical complexity and aesthetic perfection
Another grand novelty of the Swiss company “Piaget” - men's watch “Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif Dragon Piece Unique” (reference GOA36545), which is characterized by the presence of popular Chinese symbols. In connection with 2012, many watch manufactories have rushed making watches with Chinese Dragons, but I think some of these watches, in spite of being perfect from a technical point of view, seem at times rather boring, unlike the model “Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif Dragon Piece Unique”, which I would like to refer to a true masterpiece of complex watch mechanics, a piece of jewelry and fine art. Presented in the case of 18-karat white gold, this men's watch is issued in a single copy and characterized not only by matchless incrustation with 53 diamonds weighing 2.4 carats, but a unique design of the dial, made in “Grand Feu” enamel style and by technique “champlevé”. By the way, 19 diamonds weighing approximately 0.06 carats adorn the crown of white gold. In simple words, the abovementioned enamel technique is that the artist carves fragments of the picture on the surface, fills them with vitreous enamel, "bakes" at high temperatures, and then polishes the surface of the dial. You can enjoy the result at the watch photo: the dial looks amazing, the talented artists didn’t pass by the sides of the case either, decorating them with hand-engraving in a dragon shape. The men's wrist watch “Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif Dragon Piece Unique” “lives" at the expense of ultra-thin in-house caliber Piaget 608R with manual winding (the parameters: 3.28 mm x 25.6 mm). Showing off a pair of winding drums, the movement at 27 stones ensures a power reserve of at least 68 hours at full wind, the frequency - 21,600 vibrations per hour. According to ancient traditions of Piaget, the movement is carefully engraved and decorated by hand.
Of course, the most attractive part of this watch is its dial, which is decorated with traditional Chinese dragon image, made by hand on the enamel dial. In addition, the carriage of flying (unfixed) tourbillon, which was transformed by the watchmakers into a large minute hand, is an amazing decoration of the “face”. The center of the dial is decorated with a Chinese symbol of longevity, which, according to some critics, looks amazing and original, but somewhat reduces the readability degree of the dial. However, I personally do not see anything like this. By the way, thanks to three titanium bridges the weight of tourbillon carriage is minimal: it is only 0.2 grams. Bravo, masters of Piaget! But, unfortunately, the company has released only one piece of the wristwatch “Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif Dragon Piece Unique”, therefore, we can only envy the happy owner, who will manage to buy the Swiss watch “Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif Dragon Piece Unique”. The price of this model is not known to me, but I can safely say that it will exceed half a million dollars. The index of this model’s water resistance is low - up to 30 meters. The men's wrist watch “Piaget Polo Tourbillon Relatif Dragon Piece Unique” is equipped with a gray leather strap and folding clasp of white gold of 18 carats. Summarizing all the above, I will add that the beauty of Chinese Dragons and craftsmanship of hand-work, demonstrated by the team of Piaget in this case overshadows the technical complexity of the watch. Thus, even the incomparable tourbillon pales against the backdrop of a luxurious design of the wrist Dragons from Piaget.
The women's and men's wristwatches from the collection “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix” are available not only in China, the models will also be presented at the European and American markets. In 2012, many watch brands have joined the general movement of watches to the Chinese market by releasing special limited edition series of watch models that are often devoid of deep meaning. Some watch companies decorate their creations with Chinese characters and national symbols in order to sell watches for fabulous sums on the Chinese market. The Swiss company “Piaget” has also chosen the "Chinese" direction of movement in 2012, but it has introduced watches that cannot be considered as vulgar, loud, or meaningless. For the presentation of collection “Dragon & Phoenix” the experts have created a beautiful movie that tells the viewer a legend that once upon a time in the world a majestic Dragon and a chaste Phoenix lived. When two amazing creatures finally met, a new collection of watches “Piaget Dragon & Phoenix” was born. True craftsmen are able to draw inspiration from the most unexpected areas of life, based on unique events and phenomena. The main thing is to convey the thrust of his work and ideas to the audience, remaining original and restrained. Of course, the masters of Piaget know the secret of success!
Audemars Piguet with its collection “Jules Audemars” in honor of the Year of Dragon
For the great Swiss watch company “Audemars Piguet” the new year of 2012 has become significant: this year the legendary collection “Royal Oak”, launched by incomparable Gerald Genta in 1972, turns 40. Therefore, the watch family “Audemars Piguet Royal Oak” got the "basic load". By the way, for the fans of “Roal Oak Offshore” the new watch year has begun relatively quiet. In addition, as we know, the year 2012 is called the Dragon’s year by the East people, so talking about wristwatches, devoted to the Chinese dragon, we turn our attention to another, not less renowned collection of Audemars Piguet called “Jules Audemars”. The Swiss company “Audemars Piguet” is one of the manufactories, who presented the "dragon" watches at SIHH 2012 in Geneva. This is a series of men's watches “Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars the Year of Dragon Limited Edition”, which consists of models, complicated by tourbillon and perpetual calendar. The men's watches with tourbillon have an image of Dragon on the bright dials. The Swiss watches “Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Tourbillon” are presented in three stunning variations. One model is made of pink gold of 18 carats and adorned with the figure of five-fingered Chinese Dragon, which is cut from the same pink gold and placed on a gold dial. Simply put, everywhere you look - all is made of gold! The case of another model is made of pink gold, the figure of Dragon (also from pink gold) shows off on the enamel dial of red color. And finally, the third Dragon of white gold climbed the enamel dial of scarlet color, placed in the case of 18 karat white gold. Each of the above models is produced in a limited number of only eight pieces (again, the lucky Chinese "eight"). The Imperial Dragon is carved from a single piece of gold, completely hand-engraved and placed on the enamel dial, decorated with beautiful guilloche patterns.
Claudio Cavaliere, the Production and Sales Head in Audemars Piguet, says that the company chose the line “Jules Audemars” for the realization of the dragon motive, as this line "is more adapted to the world watch market." "We have created a special collection, which embodies all our ancient traditions and the fine art of hand-work," - said the representative of the company “Audemars Piguet” at SIHH 2012. Indeed, the high level of professionalism of engravers and designers can be seen in the nature of Golden Dragon performance. The dragon has not only decorated the top free part of the dial, but also stretched out its long tail, embracing the tourbillon carriage, placed in a position of "6" hours. The tourbillon and the Dragon on the watch dial as if merged together, creating extraordinary harmony of unsurpassed beauty and complex mechanics. The Dragons come to life on the eyes due to highly accurate Swiss movement at 19 stones. The caliber has been tested and adjusted in five positions. The functions (hours and minutes) are carried out by two central hands. The watch “Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Tourbillon” of rose gold is equipped with brown strap of alligator leather with buckle (the material coincides with the case material), and the model of white gold has a black leather strap and gold buckle.
The cult of Dragon from Audemars Piguet does not end by the issue of abovementioned splendid wristwatches with tourbillon. The manufactory presented to the visitors of exhibition the men's watch “Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Perpetual Calendar The Year of the Dragon” with a perpetual calendar module. Since the models complicated with perpetual calendars should have a clear and readable dials with a large number of counters, then the dial of watch “Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Perpetual Calendar” is more restrained than the above-described luxury "faces" of three wrist Dragons. It is made in white and devoid of any additional decorative elements. Even the popular Dragon is not seen at once, as it hid on the back case. The figure of mythical Chinese animal, engraved by hand, is placed on a skeletonized rotor movement, which can be carefully observed through the transparent back case from sapphire glass. A rather unusual way to pay tribute to Chinese culture. I think the Asian clients of Audemars Piguet were delighted. Moreover, from a technical point of view the men's watch “Audemars Piguet Jules Audemars Perpetual Calendar” is perfect: in-house caliber 2121 with bi-directional self-winding function, working on 38 stones at a frequency of 19,800 vibrations per hour, providing a power reserve of up to 40 hours, the thickness of the movement with perpetual calendar module, consisting of 343 parts, is minimal - about 4 mm. On the white dial in the positions of "3", "9" and "12" hours there are three counters of perpetual calendar, and at "6" hours there is the Moon phase indicator. Two central hands count hours and minutes with the help of 12 Roman numerals. "The Swiss monster" from Audemars Piguet is presented in traditional round case “Jules Audemars”, made of 18-carat pink gold, with a leather strap of brown color with brand buckle of AP.
Summing up our story about Chinese Dragons of Audemars Piguet, it should be added that the Swiss company rarely makes watches, designed for the Chinese watch market. Probably, the most recent product of Audemars Piguet with an Asian theme is a limited edition of watches “Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Pride of China”, introduced in 2008-2009, with an engraving of the Great Wall of China. Those watches had a huge success and all 250 copies were immediately sold out. In 2012, the company “Audemars Piguet” continues to win the Chinese watch market with its magnificent works of art, this time with a frightening and magnificent role of Dragon. I think not only Chinese customers, but also European fans of the company want to buy Dragon watches from Audemars Piguet.
Richard Mille RM 057: Jackie Chan, "turned into a Dragon"
The men's watch “Richard Mille RM 057 Dragon-Jackie Chan Tourbillon”, first exhibited at SIHH 2012, bears a large number of symbolic elements that can be associated with such an amazing mythical animal, like Dragon. The Swiss company, which is distinguished by its special handwriting and original design ideas, created a unique watch. It has attracted the attention of not only Chinese fans of watchmaking, but also connoisseurs of exclusive time meters from around the world. The main plate of the movement, made of pure black onyx, is provided with the figure of Dragon, carved in gold and engraved by hand. In its huge claw the Chinese dragon holds the bridge of tourbillon, as if demonstrating its unlimited power over the course of time. In addition to the symbols of strength and power, personified by the Dragon, the men's watch bears another Chinese cultural feature. Black Onyx (grained variety of quartz, composed of silicon dioxide), from which the plate is made, is a magical stone, which protects from evil spirits and evil eye best of all, this is a stone of balance, harmony and inspiration. The Imperial status of the Chinese Dragon is confirmed by the presence of all its five fingers. The plate of the movement of black onyx on the back case is engraved with the autograph of Jackie Chan, which rotates every 60 seconds with the tourbillon. To those readers, who do not know about the role of Jackie Chan in the watch company “Richard Mille”, I will explain. Talented actor, director, stuntman, and athlete Jackie Chan is considered to be a "living God" in China, but he is also known worldwide as a generous and noble man. Under the leadership of Jackie Chan the charitable foundation with the symbolic title “Dragon's Heart Foundation” was established. It protects and supports disabled children. For a quite long period of time the Swiss company “Richard Mille” has worked closely with Jackie Chan. For example, the latest result of this cooperation is the watch “Richard Mille RM 055 JC Tourbillon”, which was sold at a charity auction in September 2011. All proceeds (which are about USD 800,000) were donated to the fund "Dragon’s Heart."
The men's watch “Richard Mille RM 057 Dragon-Jackie Chan Tourbillon” is another great fruit of mutually beneficial cooperation between Richard Mille leadership and Jackie Chan. In fact, according to the representatives of the watch manufactory, the idea of creating such time meter appeared a long time ago, the company wanted to create something special only for Jackie Chan as a sign of respect. So the men's watch “Richard Mille RM 057 Dragon-Jackie Chan Tourbillon”, which bore the name of outstanding man, was born. And it is not by chance, as "Jackie Chan" in Chinese language means "the one who will become Dragon." By the way, before taking such an alias, the actor tried a variety of other names and roles. According to a popular legend in China, a carp overcoming all obstacles and jumping over the Dragon Gate transforms into a mighty Dragon. In the real world this legend is used as an allegory in relation to a person who, in spite of all problems on his path, reaches the finish line and wins in a particular case. Jackie Chan can be safely called this kind of person. He grew up in a poor family and felt desperate need. Jackie Chan wrote in his autobiography: "Hong Kong in the 50s was a terrible place. It was a bad time for the poor." The men's watch “Richard Mille RM 057 Dragon-Jackie Chan Tourbillon”, as well as many exclusive "dragon" models in 2012, is released by a strictly limited edition of 36 copies of white or pink gold of 18 carats. The dragon, carved from 18-carat rose or white gold and fully engraved by hand, encircles the watch movement RM057, the total thickness of which makes up 5.5 mm. At least 20 skilled engravers and jewelers have worked on the dragon decoration, which eyes sparkle with red semi-precious stones. To create a more realistic image, the masters hand-painted the dragon scales with a special technique of micro-painting. Then the watch was complicated with tourbillon, around the bridges of which a Dragon stood in a magnificent dance, and the module carriage is in its paw.
The visiting card of Richard Mille is an exclusive case of watch, consisting of three parts –barrel-shaped and slightly curved, so that a watch perfectly fits the wrist. The design of this unique case took the masters of the company a year of active research. The watch case with the parameters of 50 mm x 42.7 mm x 14.55 mm is water-resistant at 50 meters. The vital energy of Dragon is provided by movement with manual winding, functioning at 21 stones at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour and power reserve of up to 48 hours. The power reserve is indicated with a red scale, located on a rotating disk between the marks of "10" and "11" hours. Two small off-centered hands indicate hours and minutes. The movement has all characteristics that classify it to the category of the most reliable caliber in the world: balance Glucydur, spring NIVAROX, shockproof and antimagnetic systems. The dial and the back case are covered with a thick sapphire crystal treated with antiglare from both sides. Jackie Chan and other happy owners of “Richard Mille RM 057 Dragon-Jackie Chan Tourbillon” will be able to put this masterpiece on their wrists with the help of comfortable rubber strap with a gold buckle (pink or white gold).
Perhaps, the watch “Richard Mille RM 057 Dragon-Jackie Chan Tourbillon” is one of the most significant creations of 2012. Having a bright form-factor (barrel-shaped case, five-pointed screws, etc.), the men's watch “Richard Mille RM 057 Dragon-Jackie Chan Tourbillon” remains one of few models that make the hearts of millions of Haute Horlogerie fans in China and around the world beating.
Antoine Preziuso Celestial Chinese Dragon: «Небесный Дракон» Антуана Пресьюзо
There is no doubt that creating the new men's watch “Antoine Preziuso Celestial Chinese Dragon”, talented Swiss watchmaker Antoine Preziuzo showed his interest in the popular Eastern symbolism. This model, first introduced at the BaselWorld show in 2012, embodies desire for success, happiness and good fortune. A perfect lacquer dial is made of green color, which in Chinese philosophy is associated exclusively with the dragon theme. An exclusive alligator strap, presented in the same bright green color, matches the dial. Against the backdrop of such unforgettable beauty a magnificent Chinese dragon is hand-carved on the pink gold dial. As you would expect from this legendary creature, his powerful figure takes almost all the space on the dial, leaving a little space for round date aperture at "6" hours, as well as for a single Arabic numeral. I think the careful reader has already guessed what numeral I’m telling about. It's still the same lucky Chinese "eight", which, according to the Asians, brings them good luck. The majestic imperial Dragon holds a fireball in its paw, which according to Chinese mythology, is the crown jewel of its life, the base of its power and authority.
The aforesaid luxurious and fascinating picture is placed in no less than perfect "frame" - barrel-shaped case 46.95 mm x 38.7 mm, made of incomparable white gold of 18 carats, also engraved by hand and adorned with shimmering diamonds. In addition, Antoine Preziuso has released another version of the watch “Antoine Preziuso Celestial Chinese Dragon” in an elegant case of 18-carat white gold with a diamond bezel. Contemplating an unparalleled dial of “Antoine Preziuso Celestial Chinese Dragon” through the sapphire crystal (the back case is also made of transparent sapphire glass), one cannot help thinking that the Chinese celestial Dragon represents unlimited power and superiority, fearlessness and nobility. All these qualities can undoubtedly characterize the automatic movement, which runs the wristwatch “Antoine Preziuso Celestial Chinese Dragon”. Also, I do not get tired to admire the high skill and creativity of watchmakers, who gave eternal life to their watch creation. The men's watch “Antoine Preziuso Celestial Chinese Dragon” lives thanks to the Swiss caliber APG 282, engraved and decorated by hand, with a 42-hour power reserve and 21 stones. The watch by Antoine Preziuso is able to show hours and minutes by two central hands, coated with gold to match the material of the case. Only ten fans of Chinese symbolism and art of watchmaking can buy the Swiss watch “Antoine Preziuso Celestial Chinese Dragon”, as the model is limited by 10 copies. The index of water resistance of this masterpiece does not exceed 30 meters.
In my opinion, the men's wristwatch “Antoine Preziuso Celestial Chinese Dragon” conveys the symbolism of the East best of all, perhaps, due to the correctly matched color of dial and strap. In addition, the Dragon itself, perfectly executed, is a vivid character in Chinese mythology, it is most realistic and close to the images of these legendary creatures that always occur in any part of the Celestial Empire.
Laurent Ferrier Galet Secret Dragon Deco Edition — a watch with a secret
The Year of Dragon, 2012, has given all watch companies a chance to "show off" and take a step forward in conquering the Asian watch market. Therefore, it is not surprising that at the international fair Basel World 2012 we can observe a large number of "fire-breathing" time meters. The men's wristwatch “Laurent Ferrier Galet Secret Dragon Deco Edition” is an incredibly "smart" model. Of course, nothing else could be expected from a man, who was the head of the department for product development in the legendary watch company “Patek Philippe” for 37 years. Thus, the former employee of Patek Philippe, Laurent Ferrier, getting invaluable experience over the years at the prosperous watch company, together with his son, Christian, founded his own watch company “Laurent Ferrier”, which produces complex and exclusive watches.
As a representative of the supreme forces, the Dragon symbolizes power, and its amazing abilities are described by many mystical legends. During the design of their new wristwatch “Laurent Ferrier Galet Secret Dragon Deco Edition” the masters of the company were guided by myths that the dragon is a creature with a lion's head and a reptile’s body, the tail of which is covered with scales. So, inspired by the story about the great Chinese Dragon, the watchmakers of Laurent Ferrier have created an extraordinary wristwatch – “Laurent Ferrier Galet Secret Dragon Deco Edition”, which is decorated with an image of unique Dragon, differing from all "portraits" of the animal in various books and sources. The dial of this model is decorated with enamel miniature of Dragon, showing eternal power of the animal. The secret of this watch is that the figure of fire-breathing monster is hidden from the eyes of viewers under the top layer of the dial, but the Dragon can be seen by pressing the button on the case. Thus, with a subtle motion of the hand, the watch “Laurent Ferrier Galet Secret Dragon Deco Edition” turns from a classical model with a dark gray dial with two hands and Roman numerals into a unique piece, characterized by strong cultural load.
Since the men's wristwatch “Laurent Ferrier Galet Secret Dragon Deco Edition” is released in a limited quantity, it certainly represents a great value for the collectors and fans of Chinese philosophy and symbolism. The new watch “Laurent Ferrier Galet Secret Dragon Deco Edition” is not only a high-tech, but also a fantastic model. The unique movement, hidden under the classic cover, makes two dials rotate around axis, reminding of fans. The flaps, moving aside at 240 degrees and similar to blinds, open the enamel dial, decorated with a dragon in soft gray, beige and gold tones. There is no doubt that the enamel is the most exquisite material of decorative art, giving the picture a three-dimensional image and dazzling beauty. The historical enamel technique was born as a result of mixing different elements, such as quartz, alkali, borax, and bauxite (aluminum ore). By adding different metal oxides, the masters obtain necessary colors and achieve transparency.
The men's wrist watch with a secret from Laurent Ferrier is put into action by the caliber FBN 961.02, assembled by hand. The main advantage of this legendary in-house movement is the patented dual spring of balance, based on the idea of two inverted pendulum springs. This allows to average the gravity, keeping the center of balance gravity on its axis, and two hairs, set one above the other, compensate for errors, caused by gravity. Thus, the caliber with tourbillon module, the carriage of which is seen only through the back case, made of sapphire (a surprising modesty from the manufacturer), is distinguished by maximum accuracy. The watch “Laurent Ferrier Galet Secret Dragon Deco Edition” is provided with 80-hour power reserve. The case of the model is made of 18-carat white gold, has an interesting form without a sharp angle, reminding of sea smooth stone (“pebble” shape). These ergonomic lines were specific to elegant pocket time meters of the XIX century. According to CEO of a famous watch company, it is not so easy to sell a watch on the Chinese market. Despite the fact that it is in China, where most of the goods are sold, the manufacturers do not receive great profit, since the tax is about 25%. Nevertheless, the watchmakers continue to create watches of Asian trend, earning a good reputation among the buyers from China.
Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Relief Dragon — Dragon in a glass "cage"
A special interest of the Swiss watch company “Jaquet Droz” in Chinese culture and watch market can be easily traced through the works of the manufactory, dedicated to the centuries-old traditions and history of China. In 2012 the company “Jaquet Droz” began with the release of watch series, characterized by most striking symbols of the culture - Chinese Dragons. Thus, the men's watch “Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Dragon Majestic Beijing”, presented by the company on the threshold of the Year of Dragon, was warmly received by the public (we told about that model in our article "Watches with Dragons of 2012"). However, the Swiss watchmaker “Jaquet Droz” has produced another wonderful "Dragon", which symbolizes one of the most ancient Asian legends, for the international exhibition Basel World 2012. The men's wrist watch “Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Relief Dragon” (reference J005023271), a novelty of this year, is a part of the collection “Les Ateliers d'Art”.
In contrast to 2011, when the total mood at the Basel World Exhibition was, shall we say, somewhat subdued and depressed, in 2012 the exhibition in Basel was characterized by more confident predictions and a large number of visitors from all over the world. The Swiss watch export has risen by 19% compared to 2011 and reached 21 billion dollars. The main part came to China (48%) and Asia (28% from Hong Kong and Singapore). From the beginning of its history the Swiss watchmaker “Jaquet Droz” has been attaching great importance to close ties with China, and its products were delivered to the Chinese market in the far XVIII century. The main characteristic of the watch “Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Relief Dragon” is a 3D miniature of Dragon that is placed on the dial, made of red gold. This men's watch has its own little story: in the XVIII century, on the eve of the Year of Dragon, the watchmaker “Jaquet Droz” created a model of watch with the motif of Dragon, holding a magical pearl in its paws, symbolizing the power and wisdom of emperor. That exclusive watch came to the Chinese watch market then and had a huge success. The new watch at the exhibition Basel World 2012 is an echo of that old story.
The Dragon, located on the dial of “Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Relief Dragon”, is a small sculpture, carved by talented goldsmiths and engravers from yellow 22-karat gold. The grand figure of beast, decorated by hand, floats in the mother-of-pearl "ocean", which the dial is covered with. This men's watch is a small theater, in which the dragon is the main and sole actor. Every bend, scale, and line of Dragon are made very skillfully, the fire-breathing beast holds the most valuable treasure in its claws - "the pearl of his life," made of red ruby. In addition, each wave of mother-of-pearl "ocean" looks so realistic that it seems as if you are drowning in the water depths. Another amazing piece of this masterpiece is the tail of Dragon, which is visible through the transparent back case. It seems that the volume dragon is inside the watch, in a transparent "cell" from two sapphire glasses.
The case of 41-mm diameter is made of red gold of 18 carats, water-resistant at 30 meters. The model is released by a limited edition of 88 copies, so, no doubt, it is of great value to the collectors around the world. Each of 88 models has an individual number, engraved on the back case. Inside the exclusive watch there is an automatic movement Jaquet Droz 2653 with two winding drums, providing the watch with a 68-hour power reserve. The caliber is built on 28 stones and operates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. On the mother-of-pearl dial, covered with sapphire glass, there are two off-centered hands (hour and minute), made of red gold of 18 carats. The hands describe circles on a small dial, gold-rimmed and provided with small hour markers as black dots. The "Dragon" is attached to the wrist with a black strap, hand-sewn of alligator leather, and a buckle of red gold of 18 carats.
Undoubtedly, until the end of 2012 the fans of Horology will see many models of watches, dedicated to the cult of Dragon, but it is the men's watch “Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Relief Dragon” that I would call a true piece of art, which is almost impossible to be surpassed.
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