This Chinese zodiac assigns an animal to represent each lunar new year, cycling through the 12 animals who according to myth came down from heaven to help the Chinese people celebrate the spring. This year is the year of the dragon, which promises to bring good fortune and strength—and, of course, year of the dragon special edition watches. Worn & Wound has already covered some of the best ones out there, but one article (and even two) isn’t enough to cover them all.
The IWC Portugieser Chronograph might be the most beautiful year of the dragon watch to come out thus far. The wine colored dial with gold numerals and hands that just ooze luxury, and pays tribute to the Chinese new year on its movement, which features an intricately carved gold dragon rotor. The watch comes with a black calfskin strap, but the rubber strap in a wine that matches the dial provides a stunning complement. IWC has done a few Chinese new year models in the past—this one is far and away the best. The brand’s year of the rabbit had a similar wine and gold coloring, but lacked a two-subdial chronograph complication like the year of the dragon. 2022’s year of the tiger was a chronograph but as a three-subdial chronograph with day and date windows, the dial just feels crowded and lacks the more elegant simplicity of this year’s model. And the metal work on the dragon rotor blows away the last two years’ animal rotors.
Tag Heuer uses the inverse color scheme of the special edition Portugieser in their Carrera Chronograph Year of the Dragon, which features an 18k rose gold dial and case with wine subdials and highlights. The Chinese character for “dragon” is featured on the dial in the middle of the case, while a dragon is printed on the display sapphire caseback. There’s a stainless steel version available also, with a beautiful sunray dial.
Commemorating the year of the dragon in similarly subtle fashion, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel Dragon’s black enamel caseback features an engraved gold dragon. The Reverso caseback often features artwork on the flipside of the dial, and has even celebrated the Chinese new year in the past. In 2022, Jaeger-LeCoultre released a nearly identical watch, but with a tiger on the caseback. The Reverso may have been designed so you could flip the watch to protect the dial, but as gorgeous as the enamel and metal work on the dragon side is, you may find yourself doing the opposite with this iteration.