15 watches celebrating 2024’s Year of the DragonBuffy Acacia
Lunar New Year has been an increasingly popular milestone to celebrate among watch brands, but the Year of the Dragon in 2024 has seen an explosion of new releases across the world. Even watch accessories are being brought into it. Being the only mythological creature among the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, the dragon holds powerful significance in the calendar as well as an aesthetic opportunity for thrilling watch designs. Before the fireworks go off on February 10th, let’s run through the best of the new Year of the Dragon watches of 2024. Get ready, there’s a lot.
Longines Flagship Heritage Year of the Dragon
Is there anyone who doesn’t love Longines? Their specific brand of elegance blended with utility is underpinned by affordability and quality, making their catalogue full of absolute winners. This Flagship Heritage watch in a 38.5mm limited edition of 888 pieces for 2024’s Lunar New Year is delightfully versatile too, as the red fumé dial with yellow gold accents and moonphase display isn’t overtly linked to a dragon. That said, you can see the face of a dragon etched into the caseback, which seals in the automatic calibre L899.5. Price: A$5,100.
Bell & Ross BR 05 Artline Dragon
With this reference, Bell & Ross’ style of flight navigation instrumentation has been sidelined for a complete case engraving of a traditional Chinese dragon. With the hands stylised as the dragon’s whiskers, almost the entire watch has been given over in service of this artistic display. The monochromatic aspect of its steel and black decoration gives it quite a surreal quality, and its 40mm square case with a thickness of just 10.33mm wears impressively well. Price: A$11,700.
Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Titanium Dragon
Hublot aren’t exactly known for their subtlety, so it’s no surprise their tribute to the Year of the Dragon involves a heavily stylised depiction with pop art themes and bright, punchy colours. The titanium tonneau case is an industrial frame for the pink, blue and white dragon which was designed by Chinese artist Chen Fenwan to incorporate the tradition of paper cutting. Topping it off, the watch has been given a scaly bracelet made of rubber that takes up to eight hours alone just to colour with nano-vulcanisation. Price: A$45,000.
Arnold & Son Luna Magna “Year of the Dragon” Onyx
Presented in a 44mm case of 5N red gold, this phenomenal and three-dimensional sculpture of a dragon can be seen rising in and out of the dial’s depths to focus in on the large moonphase display, replacing the pearl which Chinese dragons usually covet. The black section of the dial is made from onyx stone, and the opaline white subdial stands stoic above the dramatic scene. Price: US$92,999.
Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute Enamel ‘Dragon’
While the usual face of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Tribute Enamel ‘Dragon’ may appear just like a standard Reverso in black and rose gold, which in itself makes for an amazing piece, the titular dragon is hidden away on the reversible caseback. Flipping the dial over reveals a meticulously engraved relief, and the surrounding area is flooded with jet-black Grand Feu enamel for an incredibly deep sense of contrast and personality. Price: US$107,000.
Grand Seiko SBGH323
Although Grand Seiko limited editions can be rather elusive, it’s impossible to ignore the rich red dial of this Chinese exclusive reference. From the real-life photos that I’ve seen, the SBGH323 absolutely lights up far more than its official render suggests, and the fan-style guilloché adds a layer of dynamics that makes it even more dazzling. The case is 44mm in diameter, and it’s powered by the hi-beat 9S85 movement which runs at 5Hz for a smooth sweep, at an accuracy of +5/-3 seconds per day. Price: on request.
Vacheron Constantin Métiers D’Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac – The Year of the Dragon
Vacheron Constantin’s most luxurious watches tend to have quite verbose naming schemes, but it’s hard to get upset by that when the dials are as detailed and expressive as they are. The Métiers D’Art collection is reserved for their pinnacle of artisanal crafts, and that’s evident here from the 22k yellow gold dragon sculpture above its background of gold and clay-red. In four corners of the dial, there are displays for the jump hour, minutes, weekday, and date. Price: US$112,000.
Piaget Emperador Year of the Dragon
Piaget has actually released 6 watches for the 2024 Lunar New Year – however I found the Emperador to be the most stunning of an impressive lot. The golden dragon sculpture extends all the way across the dial and even throughout the case, both of which are also set with an array of precious stones that depict a sky’s full gradient of blues. Windows are cut into the dial to reveal the movement’s micro-rotor and tourbillon from the front of the watch, meaning that you don’t need to flip it around to get the full experience. Price: on request.
Casio G-Shock MT-G Year of the Dragon
Rather than sticking a golden dragon on the dial, this G-Shock incorporates its spirit throughout the entire metal case. Its gold colouring and scaly texture give it a unique flair, which is also accented by the scales on the black dial and red accents. At nearly 52mm in diameter, this truly is a monster on the wrist, but its ruggedness and functionality deliver everything you’d expect from a modern G-Shock with mobile connectivity. Price: A$2,499.
Ball Engineer III Marvelight Soaring Dragon
Ball is a brand with a fascinating history and a loyal fanbase who swear by their incredible quality for the price, and this limited edition of 168 pieces seems to be a rare departure from their usual utilitarian image. While the Engineer III Marvelight still has the 100m of water resistance and micro-gas tubes that glow in the dark we expect of their tool watches, the dial is also adorned with a 2D golden dragon upon a deep burgundy background. What the photos don’t do justice is the shininess of the metallic dragon, which glints beautifully in the light. Price: US$1,999.
Swatch Year of the Dragon in Wind PAY!
If you’re looking for something on the budget end, Swatch is always worth checking out. For 2024’s Year of the Dragon, they’ve released 6 new watches, and although there are plenty of fresh and fun colours available, I’ve chosen the Dragon in Wind PAY! version for this list. Considering that Chinese dragons are symbols of wealth and luck, it seems fitting that this model is equipped with SwatchPAY! NFC technology, which allows you to make contactless payments with it. Price: A$110.
Ulysse Nardin Blast Tourbillon Dragon
Ulysse Nardin has also gone for a rendition of the dragon protecting a pearl, however their version is much more contemporary. The golden dragon sculpture has been painted in red, orange, and yellow enamel as it weaves its way around the skeletonised X structure of the UN-172 movement, and the pearl has been placed at the centre of a spinning tourbillon. Price: US$100,600.
IWC Portugieser Chronograph Year of the Dragon
Presented in a burgundy colour so decadent that it’s basically purple, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph Year of the Dragon features gilt highlights that sparkle in delicate contrast. The refined appointments of the watch rarely get this kind of colourful chance to shine, and show how versatile its design as a vintage-styled chronograph is. Here the gold dragon is on display through the sapphire caseback, carved into its calibre 69355’s automatic winding rotor. Price: A$14,600.
TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph Year of the Dragon
TAG Heuer’s Carrera Chronograph Year of the Dragon has been released in both rose gold and stainless steel versions, but how can we go past that intoxicating combination of gold and red? The two maroon subdials and the seconds hand really bring out the pinkness of the golden sunburst dial, which is also marked by a Chinese character for dragon in calligraphy. The movement is the Heuer 02, which can be seen behind the dragon printed onto the sapphire display caseback. Price: A$32,600.
Bovet Récital 26 Chapter 2 Golden Dragon
Bovet is definitely one of my grail brands, mostly for how unbelievably opulent and unashamedly grand their watches are. The Récital 26 Chapter 2 Golden Dragon is no exception, with one of the largest and most detailed dragon sculptures I’ve seen. Here it’s curled up beneath a main dial of translucent blue quartz and next to a world time display. They’ve also snuck in a moonphase display which the dragon’s head is pointing at, and the sloped 46.5mm ‘writing desk’ case offers a very rare refinement. Price: on request.