88-piece limited edition in ethical 18-carat rose gold, Chopard celebrates the Chinese New Year with the art of Urushi lacquer and mythical dragons.
In the horological world, the fusion of gold and lacquer is rarely seen and even less frequently mastered. The L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Dragon is an artisanal expression of luck and prosperity which marks the Chinese zodiac cycle. The dragon was the earliest creature to appear in Chinese myths and legends, representing imperial authority, wealth, fertility and auspiciousness. The new Year of the Dragon starts on February 10th 2024.
According to tradition, the legendary first Emperor of China, Huangdi – who reigned from c.2700-2600 BCE – incorporated various creatures in his coat of arms as he conquered neighbouring tribes and was the one who ultimately created the image which would become the forerunner of the Chinese dragon we know today.
Greatly inspired by these traditions, Chopard’s L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Dragon boasts a 39.5 mm ethical 18-carat rose gold case, while the in-house L.U.C 96.17-L calibre with micro-rotor ensures that a slender profile of just 6.80 mm can be maintained. It mingles technical savoir-faire and artistic flair delivered by Chopard Manufacture. Its dial is a piece of art, skilfully decorated with Urushi lacquer, gold powder and mother-of-pearl inlays. For the 12th year running in the Chopard Urushi story, the dial has been hand-crafted in Japan by a world-renowned artisan specialising in the Maki-e technique.
A Symbolic And Artistic Narrative
The Chinese Five Elements Theory assigns one of the five elements – Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth – to each year, in addition to the zodiac signs. 2024 is the Year of the Wood Dragon. If the Dragon is usually powerful, endlessly energetic, full of vitality and endowed with the keenest sense of Self among the 12 zodiac signs, the Wood Dragon is seen as a protector of the environment and a symbol of harmony with Nature. This strong identity beautifully echoes Chopard’s respect for the Earth and its riches. The Japanese master lacquerer called upon by the Maison has thus created a moody, elegant black dial on which the dragon comes to life. Soaring high above the clouds, it radiates a striking blend of power and grace, with bold statement colours of red and yellow.
This year also marks a milestone for the L.U.C XP Urushi series. Back in 2013, Chopard launched the very first model of this kind with the Snake edition. With the addition dedicated to the Dragon, the Maison thus completes a full circle in the Chinese calendar. On this opportunity, a wonderful wooden case featuring the 12 L.U.C XP Urushi crafted since then will be unveiled in 2024, offering the collectors a chance to admire these masterpieces of craftmanship thus united as a magnificent whole.
A Meticulous Approach To Craftsmanship
Faithful to tradition and the preservation of savoir-faire, Chopard has once again worked with the finest Japanese artisan specialised in the traditional Maki-e lacquer technique for the L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Dragon. All 88 of these spectacular dials have been produced in the workshops of the century-old company Yamada Heiando and crafted by master artist Minori Koizumi, a meticulous task requiring no less than 20 hours for each. In accordance with this refined ancestral technique, gold flakes placed between layers of lacquer made from the sap of the Toxicodendron vernicifluum tree light up the background. This precious dial is housed in an extra-thin case in ethical 18-carat rose gold, which is not only comfortable on the wrist but also offers an unparalleled level of understated elegance.
This thinness is made possible by the use of the 3.30 mm-thick in-house L.U.C 96.17-L self-winding movement equipped with an off-centred 22-carat gold micro-rotor incorporated into the overall thickness of the calibre. Its strong inertia ensures 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 Dragon to offer a 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.
‘L’Art D’une Manufacture’
The L.U.C collection from Chopard Manufacture is widely appreciated and collected by watchmaking connoisseurs globally. It has been committed to the art and traditions of Fine Watchmaking for over 25 years. Unwilling to rely on others to supply movements, and committed to preserving ancestral savoir-faire and skills, it took the bold step – under Mr Karl-Friedrich Scheufele’s leadership – of building an entirely in-house calibre. The revered L.U.C 96.01-L started the beginning of Chopard Manufacture in 1996. The first model it featured in was the L.U.C 1860, which was introduced one year later and immediately named ‘Watch of the Year’ by Montres Magazine.
The collection has expanded over the years, consistently offering elegant and original complications which were conceived, developed, produced, assembled, decorated and certified in Chopard’s Fleurier and Geneva watchmaking workshops. The audacious L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Dragon marks the next chapter in the story, simultaneously demonstrating Chopard’s creativity and technical watchmaking.