Happy belated Year of the Chicken’s Husband! As a cock myself (stop sniggering at the back), I’m hoping that 2017 will bring me good fortune. Last year was riddled with disasters, from impaling myself on a wine glass to appearing on French television effectively calling all Russian football hooligans lightweights and lots of misadventures in between. A quick google of the prospects for roosters, however, does not make good reading – in a word, I’m screwed.
Anyway, moving away from my upcoming travails, let’s get to the business of talking about rooster watches. Yes, it’s a thing, and big business. The watch industry is never slow to jump on a gimmick and the Chinese zodiac is no exception. There are literally dozens of awful examples out there but a handful, I have to admit, are not only excellent watches but really nail the whole mark-the-occasion thing.
First up is the latest in the zodiac series from Panerai, the Luminor 1950 Sealand Year of the Rooster. The Italian watchmaker has been on the zodiac thing for a long time and it takes the whole business seriously, creating watches that are very un-Panerai. Immediately you will notice the fold-over cover that has been painstakingly hand-engraved with a handsome rooster in what Panerai says is the “traditional Chinese style” but I’m pretty sure poultry looks the same everywhere. Under the cover is a classic Panerai, with the typical Luminor face that rests on a large 44mm steel case. Inside, there’s a P.9000 movement that pumps out an impressive 72 hours of power. Features are kept simple with only a small seconds dial and a date indicator.
The watch is limited to 99 pieces and priced at about HK$183,900. This isn’t the most practical everyday watch but for collectors who’ve got the other zodiac pieces it is a must.
Chopard has also been on the zodiac beat a long while and its latest entry is an absolute beauty. The L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the Rooster is more an art piece than a timepiece and, intriguingly, Chopard melds Chinese culture with Japanese craft and Swiss watchmaking nous.
The Japanese element comes from the use of lacquer and mother-of-pearl marquetry on the dial face, executed by master Kiichiro Masumura, of the Yamada Heiando studio, to create the proud cockerel and its extravagant plumage. Inside the watch is an excellent L.U.C 96.17-L movement that has the Geneva seal and can store 65 hours of power. Limited to 88 pieces, this watch is priced at HK$169,000.
Finally, something a little more playful (and affordable) – Swatch’s Rocking Rooster. Now, there areSwatch obsessives out there – indeed the largest collection, containing 5,800 Swatches, was sold in Hong Kong in 2015 for a ludicrous HK$46.7 million – so the Rocking Rooster is already a must-have as it completes the 12-year cycle the brand started with its Year of the Dog watch. But this particular piece is also cheap enough (HK$680) for anyone who wants to mark their year, a great gift or something fun, and it all comes in a nifty pack, too.
Features-wise, it’s a Swatch, so there’s nothing more advanced than simple time-telling but of all the rooster depictions, at least for me, this one has the most artfully rendered fowl.