As man’s best friend, the affable dog is naturally the most beloved and popular of all the animals in the Chinese zodiac. Loyal to a fault, it travels wherever you go, even on the wrist (at least for 2018) as watchmakers continue their annual tradition of depicting these totemic beasts on dials.
Here, take Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art “The legend of the Chinese zodiac” series, which portrays the dog’s noble disposition through an alliance of artistic crafts. A handsome setter, sculpted and hand-engraved in platinum or pink gold, takes pride of place at the centre of a blue or bronze-toned grand feu enamel dial, while surrounding foliage is etched to resemble the Chinese paper-cutting technique Jianzhi.
Jaquet Droz offers two renditions of the playful Pekingese on its Petite Heure Minute timepiece. One is a miniature painting; hand-painted using grand feu enamel in a watercolour style that echoes Chinese calligraphy, the pooch is found wandering in a natural landscape of rocks and plants. The other is a miniature sculpture of the toy dog in mid-leap, carved in decorative yellow gold and set against a backdrop of radiant red (the dial is made of the Sonora Sunrise variety of cuprite from Mexico) for good fortune.
Ulysse Nardin brings a fiery Akita to frolicsome life through its in-house mastery of the centuries-old craft of champlevé enamelling. A brilliant hound with flaming fur outlined in gold emerges, paws padding and tail wagging in the deep blue outdoors.
Finally, Panerai captures a retriever’s likeness on the cover of its special edition Luminor 1950 Sealand 3 Days Automatic Acciaio. Hand-adorned by Italian master engravers using the ancient technique of “sparsello” (named after the special tool used in the process), gold threads are meticulously inlaid onto the engraved steel lid to outline a dog in a field of plum flowers.