Beware the Dragon

Setting itself apart from the eleven other earthly animals of the Chinese zodiac, the dragon is a symbol of luck, success, respect, and excellence. Watchmakers are eager to take inspiration from this fantastical beast, with celebrations starting on Saturday, February 10, the start of this new year in the Chinese Lunar Calendar. A rare opportunity for the watchmaking Maisons to channel their creativity and create timepieces in the image of this mythical creature. Here are Frank Sans C’s top five picks of the finest dragon inspired watches.

By Chloé Redler

HUBLOT’s Spirit of Big Bang Titanium Dragon

This truly original watch is a collaborative effort by the Swiss watchmaker Hublot and Chinese artist Chen Fenwan.

Fenwan is considered a virtuoso in the art of Chinese paper cutting. She manifests her mastery of the craft with an incredible sculpture, which she scales down to fit the specific features of this Spirit of Big Bang Titanium Dragon watch. The 42mm titanium case houses the dial, which displays the delicate layering effect of paper cutting. This lavish yet miniature work of art is a multi-levelled structure – five overlays in total – that represents a 3D dragon head.

HUBLOT Spirit of Big Bang Titanium Dragon.

Those with an eye for detail will no doubt have noticed, in this fine example of the ancestral art of paper cutting, the presence of nine other animals within the dragon’s head: the antlers of a stag, the mouth of an ox, the nose of a dog, the whiskers of a catfish, the eyes of a shrimp, the tail of a snake, the scales of a fish, the mane of a lion and the claws of an eagle. This beautiful and terrifying creature called a ‘loong’ looks ready to jump right out of the dial. The shape of the hands mimics the spikes which crown the dragon’s head, and the ‘H’ shaped screw on the bezel are also present in the dragon’s eyes. One must pause a moment to marvel at the strap which is a made to look like the scaly body of this chimera and evokes wood marquetery. This, however, is a work of rubber marquetry that was done entirely by hand – it took eight hours per strap! This limited edition (88-piece) watch comes with an additional grey fabric and Velcro strap, an inhouse self-winding movement, it is water resistant up to 100m and has a power reserve of approximately 50 hours. Majestic!

The head of the Imperial dragon is enclosed within a 42mm titanium case that’s water resistant up to 100m.

Limited edition, 88 pieces – €30,800

Click here to read the full HUBLOT Spirit of Big Bang Titanium Dragon technical sheet.


G-SHOCK, MTG-B3000CXD Golden Dragon

The G-SHOCK MTG-B3000CXD Golden Dragon.

The golden dragon has chosen the G-Shock collection to leave its mark. It materialises on the casing of the MTG-B3000 ‘Golden Dragon’, which is water resistant up to 200m. The case is made of carbon and stainless-steel with gold colour ion plating and a scale pattern that evokes the dragon’s reptilian skin.

The G-SHOCK MTG-B3000CXD Golden Dragon’s case is yellow gold coloured and decorated with dragon scales.

The dazzling gold on the bezel, the hands, and the indices is balanced by a black resin strap. A touch of brilliant red here on the chronograph hand and there on the seconds hand is a nod to the Chinese New Year. This special edition unnumbered model conforms to the aesthetic of the G-SHOCK brand and comes in a unique boxset stamped with a stunning golden dragon.

The dragon also appears on the case back.


Click here to read the full G-Shock MTG-B3000CXD Golden Dragon technical sheet.


HAMITLON, Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Dragon

The Hamilton Ventura was released in 1957 and become the legendary watch it is today thanks to rock & roll superstar Elvis Presley who wore it in Blue Hawaii (1961). The futuristic design of the Hamilton Ventura has firmly placed it among the most iconic watches in Hamilton’s many collections and over the years it has been a multifaceted model, always ready to reinvent itself to suit the trends. This year, the Hamilton Ventura starts a new chapter in its trailblazing story and adorns the face of the dragon 90° clockwise on the skeleton dial.

The piercing green eyes of the Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Dragon and its rose gold PVD coated case.

The two variations of the Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Dragon are both water resistant up to 50m. The first, a stainless-steel case with gold rose PVD coating, has a black skeleton dial and mysterious piercing green eyes. The second has blazing red eyes and a black PVD coated case. Beneath the dial beats an automatic movement with an 80-hour power reserve, equipped with a magnetism resistant Nivachron™ balance spring. The black rubber strap with 3D dragon scales is a perfect example of the fine detail this watch displays.

The Ventura Elvis80 Dragon Skeleton and its black rubber strap with 3D dragon scales.


Click here to read the full Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Skeleton Dragon technical sheet.


BELL & ROSS’s BR 05 Artline Dragon

BR 05 Artline Dragon by Bell & Ross.

It’s always a pleasure to see watch manufacturers blend fine art into their design, especially when those watch manufacturers usually present technical timepieces rather than artistic ones. This is especially true when the combination of these two features is mastered. We need look no further than Bell & Ross’s BR 05 Artline Dragon to appreciate this achievement. The laser engraving of the dragon motif across the entire watch is the closest thing one could get to a steel tattoo. Inspired by a tradition Chinese engraving technique, the process leaves no room for error.

The BR 05 Artline Dragon creates the illusion of a metallic tattoo with its meticulous line work, juxtaposing thin and thick lines, balancing light and shadow.

It wasn’t enough to tattoo the bezel with the dragon motif. To reach the pinnacle of precision, each individual link had to be laser engraved – the final two are identical for size adjustment purposes – and then assembled one by one to create the desired effect. The result is stunning, as the dragon seems to wrap around the entire watch. The workshops of the Maison have done a stunning job in adapting the design of the BR 05 model to the style of the graphic designer. The artist’s style is palpable as one notices the different symbols of Chinese mythology like the image of a swallow, the sun and moon, and other natural elements. It can also be felt in the design of the skeletonized hands, which are filled with black lacquer, and have an ingenious snake-like appearance.

The 360° oscillating weight can be glimpsed through the sapphire case back of the BR 05 Artline Dragon.

Looking at the watch from a technical standpoint, the case measures 40mm in diameter, is water resistant up to 100m, and in it beats an automatic calibre with a 360° oscillating weight that can be seen through the sapphire case back. It also has a 54-hour power reserve.

Limited edition, 99 pieces – €8,200

Click here to read the full BR 05 Artline Dragon technical sheet.



DIOR, Grand Soir Year of the Dragon

Dior Grand Soir Year of the Dragon.

On grand occasions, the Dior Grand Soir makes its appearance. Dressed in the finest materials and bedecked with jewels, the collection embodies the creative exuberance of the French Maison. Mystery shrouds the dragon’s head, which figures on this 36mm model, created especially for the Chinese New Year. This creature is covered in golden feathers, four brilliant-cut diamonds in its mane and hypnotizes us with its marquise-cut diamond eyes. The dragon draws us in with its yellow gold bezel, set with 52 diamonds, atop a silver gleaming stainless-steel case – water resistant up to 30m. When flipped over, we can see the automatic calibre (42-hour power reserve) through the milky translucent sapphire crystal case back that is adorned with a delicate golden dragon. The silver satin bracelet is the finishing touch on this limited edition, 18-piece timepiece.

The milky translucent sapphire crystal case back lets us glimpse the oscillating weight of the automatic calibre.

Limited edition, 18 pieces – €38,500

Click here to read the full Dior Grand Soir Year Of the Dragon technical sheet.


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