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22Studio Year of The Dragon

The Dragon is the fifth of the 12-year cycle of animals that appear in the Chinese Zodiac. Interestingly in 2024, the year of the dragon symbolises wood. However, in the world of horology, this translates to a range of interesting dial designs. It’s also a phenomenal opportunity for watchmakers to capitalise on a golden marketing opportunity. Some of the highlights are Breguet’s Classique Double Tourbillon Dragon, Chopard’s L.U.C. XP Urushi Year of the Dragon and Ulysse Nardin’s Blast Tourbillon Dragon. All of these timepieces are absolutely exquisite and have a sublime luxurious appearance. However, they are also well beyond the realms of most people’s budgets. That is why I was fascinated to discover a realistically priced alternative from 22Studio called the ‘Year of the Dragon’.

22Studio was established in 2005 and inspired by the works of Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The company (based in Taipei, Taiwan) has an integrated studio, design hub, factory and workshop under one roof. Originally I became aware of the business due to a shared passion for concrete. At this stage, I was doing extensive research for my 7th book entitled ‘Concrete Houses‘. I also had created a massive hexagonal concrete watch with Konstantin Chaykin that was featured in Mondani Magazine. My concept was to achieve a raw aesthetic as a celebration of brutalist modern architecture. In contrast, 22Design is delicately exposing the refined beauty of this material in all their products including the impressive new ‘Year of the Dragon’.

The ‘Year of the Dragon’ is a new release from 22Design and a personal favourite of mine. This watch pays homage to the dragon motif on the door-gods of the Puji Temple in Tainan. What makes this model so impressive is the multi-layered architectural concrete dial. 22Design has created a special compound (that is less susceptible to shrinkage) and poured it into bespoke moulds. Taking the main stage is a large ornate dragon which perfectly works in harmony with the brand’s signature ‘four-dimensional’ rotating staircase. Other distinctive details include stainless steel hands (treated with Super-LumiNova) and raised indexes. There is also a raised circular date window (located at 3 o’clock) that displays the Chinese character “龍” (dragon) on the 24th of each month. For the price ($1,000) it’s tough to find a better-designed watch for the money.

Beneath the 45mm sculpted natural brushed stainless steel case is a Swiss-made automatic movement sourced from Selita. The Caliber SW200-1 comprises 26 jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. This refined mechanism is visibly showcased via a sapphire crystal exhibition case back with a vermilion red seal motif (generally found in temples) Functionally the ‘Year of the Dragon’ features hours, minutes, seconds and date indication. The watch also has a power reserve of 38 hours and is water resistant to a depth of 50 metres.

As a perfect finale the ‘Year of the Dragon’ is presented on a brown vegetable-tanned leather strap with a complimentary stainless steel buckle.

Within the range, there is also another variant called ‘Year of the Dragon-Shadow’ with a black PVD-treated steel case, concrete dial and leather strap.

To purchase via the company’s website follow this link.

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