Each year, select watch brands introduce limited-editions to commemorate the Chinese New Year, which begins on Jan. 25.

The Chinese zodiac, which has existed for thousands of years, is based on 12-year cycles, with each year assigned a symbolic animal, whose characteristics are believed to be exhibited in the people who are born in that year. This year is the Year of the Rat.

Those born in the Year of the Rat, the first zodiac sign and a symbol of renewal and prosperity, are regarded as ambitious, intelligent, and inventive, as well as fiscally prudent, among other traits.

Over the past two decades, Swiss brands have heavily invested in the enormous potential of the Chinese luxury watch market. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, the top three Swiss watch export markets for the first nine months of 2019 were Hong Kong, the U.S., and mainland China respectively. And while Hong Kong dropped a little over 6%, attributed to last year’s political unrest, exports to mainland China grew more than 15%.

Chinese New Year provides an opportunity to target specialized pieces to that burgeoning market as well as to affluent Chinese nationals and aficionados worldwide.

Provided with a new animal theme each year, the brands typically showcase their artisans, who have depicted this year’s resourceful rat using age-old métiers d’art—decorative crafts such as engraving or enameling.

Read more about the Five Artful Watches that Celebrate the Year of the Rat  HERE

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