Urushi, an ancient lacquer technique developed in Japan using tree sap, is the catalyst for Chopard’s limited-run L.U.C XP timepiece ($24,290). The watch depicts a horse, inspired by the 2014 Chinese New Year, adorned with lotus flowers painted onto the dial by hand. To make each piece, a skilled urushi specialist applies thin layers of resin derived from the sap of the Japanese urushi tree and then traces the fine lines, using thin bamboo brushes, with gold powder to highlight the design. The number of timepieces available is determined by the amount of sap at harvest (which occurs just once per year and generally yields very small quantities).
The newest L.U.C XP—and the latest edition in the Urushi series that Chopard launched to its Japanese market in 2009—has a 39.5 mm 18-karat-rose-gold case and a mechanical L.U.C Calibre 96.17-L movement produced in the company’s workshop in Fleurier, Switzerland. Even with two barrels, the movement is able to fit into a slimmer dial (just 6.8 mm thick) thanks to an off-center micro-rotor that is visible through the caseback. The piece is fitted with a black alligator strap and comes in a black octagonal box that is also decorated using urushi techniques on the outside and maki-e in gold on the inside. (800.246.7273, www.us.chopard.com)