This past weekend I was in Macau for the 1st ever International Exposition of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Ancient Art. I was very fortunate to be invited (by my friends from the China Horologe Association) to have a look at some cool watch products that were showcased along with many other Chinese cultural relics, both old and new.
As the name of the event suggests, this weekend was all about historically important Chinese craftsmanship. I was pleased to be introduced to a brand that was not previously on my radar, Zhang Dao, from Shanghai. For a brand that is only a few years old, Zhang Dao boasts a huge selection of watches, most of which feature extremely detailed ceramic dials combined with impressively engraved movements.
The founder of the brand, Mr. Zhang Shuyang, is an extremely successful business man, noted art collector, and a true breath of fresh air. In a room full of expensive suits and formality, Mr. Zhang confidently strolled in with a huge smile wearing a hoodie and canvas shoes, puffing on a fat Cuban cigar. It’s obvious that Zhang Dao is a passion project for him; a blending of his own personality with his years of experience collecting art, clocks and watches, among many other items.
From a strictly artistic point of view, the dials on Zhang Dao watches are really quite special. Unlike other ceramic watch dials, many Zhang Dao pieces feature an additional depth element with subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) raised and textured surfaces upon which the decorative finish is applied, an effect which begs your eyes to view it from all angles to fully absorb the detail. And beyond the dial, many pieces also feature ceramics on both the front and back of the watch. For art lovers that lean in the direction of horology, these pieces are truly something to be desired.
From a watch enthusiast point of view, the pieces are not lacking in the least. I’ll soon be writing a more thorough review of one of my favorite Zhang Dao pieces, the ‘Silk Road’ Double Orbital Tourbillon (pictured below) in which I will go into more detail about case and movement qualities. Zhang Dao watches are not cheap, but in the world of fine art…whatever is? Check out the Zhang Dao website for more pics, info and boutique locations. For other purchase and pricing info, contact them via their website.