The Lunar New Year is one of the most important dates in the Chinese calendar, a time to start over anew. This year, Sunday 22 January officially marks the move into the Year of the Rabbit, a creature which symbolises peace, prosperity and, importantly, hope. From Dior and Gucci to Piaget and Vacheron Constantin, some of the world’s finest watch brands and jewellery houses have created limited-edition timepieces to celebrate the occasion, incorporating rabbit-themed motifs as well as traditional Chinese colours and symbols.
As we bid farewell to the fierce Year of the Tiger and welcome in the milder Rabbit, it feels like a fitting change of pace for 2023. Where the Tiger symbolises strength, vitality and growth, the Rabbit manifests in fluidity, quietness and contemplation, with the year set to usher in some much-needed calm. In Chinese culture, the rabbit is the luckiest of the 12 animals of the zodiac and those born under this sign are considered to be amongst the most elegant, intelligent and skilfully discerning of people.
The Lunar New Year marks a traditional time of celebration, and one which sees consumers spending lavishly on luxurious gifts for friends and family. Though giving clocks as presents isn’t the done thing in China (the words for ‘giving a clock’ can be misheard as ‘attending a funeral’), watches have become an increasingly popular gift in recent years, with some of the world’s most prestigious makers releasing fanciful, limited-edition timepieces themed for the zodiac animal of the year. Here, we’ve rounded up the finest watches to invest in this Chinese New Year.
THE YEAR OF THE RABBIT
Grand Soir Year of the Rabbit watch
Taking inspiration from the House’s signature use of Toile de Jouy prints, this eye-catching timepiece boasts a deep blue aventurine dial, adorned with a scenic depiction of a rabbit beneath a tree in mother-of-pearl and yellow gold. Its pink gold bezel is encrusted with 52 brilliant-cut diamonds, which bring light and sparkle to the steel case, whilst its creamy satin strap is a subtle nod to Christian Dior’s use of satin ribbons in his couture designs. Limited to just 88 pieces (8 being an auspicious number in China), each watch is also individually numbered on its case back.
Premier Chinese New Year Automatic 36mm
This striking scarlet watch (red is a lucky colour in China) is dedicated to a legend about the moon, in which the magical Jade Emperor was once touched by the kindness and self-sacrificing nature of a rabbit and rewarded it with eternal life on the moon – which is why lunar markings are often said to resemble a rabbit. Harry Winston’s timepiece celebrates this ancient myth on its red mother-of-pearl dial, embellished with a rose gold rabbit and white marquise and brilliant-cut diamonds.
Classique 9075 2023 Chinese New Year Edition
Breguet’s homage to the Lunar New Year sees six playful rabbits leaping across a hand-engraved 18k white gold watch dial, set against a background of fluffy clouds, lucky bamboo and blossoms. The white gold case is highlighted with 88 white diamonds around its bezel and lugs, and its sky-blue leather strap picks up the shimmering blue of its Grand Feu dial.
Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar Watch 2023
First unveiled in 2012, Blancpain’s annual Chinese New Year Villeret models display the main indications of the traditional Chinese Lunar calendar on their intricate dials. This year’s limited-edition platinum timepiece also boasts a crisp white grand feu enamel, a signature moonphase window and delicate hands resembling hollowed-out sage leaves. On its case back, the watch also features a pair of rabbits, symbolising gentleness and trust.
Limited-edition Altiplano Year of the Rabbit
Created in collaboration with master enameller Anita Porchet, Piaget’s new Year of the Rabbit watch sweetly portrays two luminous white rabbits in painted enamel, edged in shimmering gold and framed with a white gold bezel set with 78 brilliant-cut diamonds. The manual-winding timepiece is powered by an ultra-thin in-house movement, combining Porchet’s stunning hand-crafted charm with the Maison’s renowned technical mastery.
Métiers D’Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac
Year of the Rabbit
For 2023, Vacheron Constantin has unveiled two different watch designs to celebrate the Lunar New Year – one in platinum, with a blue enamel dial, and one in pink gold with a bronze enamel dial. Each has been inspired by the Chinese Jianzhi paper-cutting technique and boasts a richly detailed design based on iconic Chinese flora. Rather than using hands, the time and date are displayed through windows around the edge of the dial, leaving the centre free for a playful rabbit motif, hand-engraved in precious metal.
G Timeless Watch, 38mm
Four different iterations of Gucci’s sporty Timeless watch have been released for the Year of the Rabbit: two depicting the fluffy animal as a colourful graffiti motif, and two that incorporate it into a graphic pattern alongside the Maison’s signature ‘G’. Each of the quartz-powered watches is made from recycled steel and boasts a special design engraved on its caseback, which sees Gucci’s iconic logo accessorised for the new year with its own set of long ears and whiskers.
Carrera Chronograph Year of the Rabbit
As a maker of refined motorsports watches, TAG Heuer’s celebration of the Year of the Rabbit is rather subtle, though no less special for it. This new limited-edition chronograph (only 500 will be made) has a black dial bearing a printed motif that represents the texture of a rabbit’s fur and its rose gold-plated indices and hands are picked out in red lacquer. Flip it over to reveal a lucky red rabbit design, destined to keep watch over its wearer.