Louis Vuitton celebrates 20 years of fine watchmaking and marching to the beat of its own Tambour.
Founded in the Victorian era as a trunk-maker that would later go on to dominate the world with a comprehensive range of luxury and lifestyle goods, most notably leather bags, shoes and accessories as well as designer fashion, Louis Vuitton made its official entry into the world of fine watchmaking in 2002 with the launch of the Tambour timepiece. Bold and innovative, it was recognisable at a glance with its unprecedented shape, its round case sculpted from a block of metal, and signature applied horns. This launch opened up the doors to the closed world of haute horlogerie for Louis Vuitton.
Having become a symbol of Louis Vuitton’s watch collection over the years, the Tambour has seen different expressions over time, all the while staying true to its devotion to the Art of Travel, bold creativity, technological innovation and exceptional craftsmanship. With the Tambour Spin Time in 2009, it even reinvented how time is displayed, with rotating cubes instead of clock hands and indexes.
As any respectable, bona fide luxury house would do to maintain creative independence and full ownership when branching out into a new territory, Louis Vuitton legitimised its commitment to watchmaking in 2011 by consolidating some of the world’s most skilled artisans in the art of high-end watchmaking under the roof of its very own workshop La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton in Geneva. In doing so, the Maison incorporated horology into its DNA and has since flourished into a full-fledged player in the field.
Launched in 2014, the Tambour Evolution bore strong, masculine lines with its 45 mm diameter case, whereas the 2016 Tambour Slim, in a Tourbillon version, appeared sleek and discrete on the wrist. With the Tambour Moon model launched in 2017, the Tambour kept its signature round case while reversing its caseband’s curve. Then, in 2020, the Tambour Curve quite literally pushed the boundaries of timekeeping, with its titanium and Carbostratum case; its surprisingly elongated convex curve, and its phenomenal flying tourbillon calibre, stamped with the prestigious Geneva Seal (Poinçon de Genève) – a perfect match between high-complication movement and bold creativity.
In 2021, the Tambour Carpe Diem received the Audacity Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, while the Tambour Street won the Diver’s Watch Prize. Louis Vuitton’s watchmaking has also been closely linked to the connected watch. With this technology, the future is now.
Today, only two short decades since its first foray into watchmaking, Louis Vuitton has proved its deep passion and innovative capacity for watchmaking and made quite a name for itself within the industry. The Maison has already unveiled the third generation of its Tambour Horizon Light Up model. This connected watch is simply revolutionary. Not only is it bright, travel-friendly and playful, but it is also entirely customisable, thus staying true to the Maison’s DNA.
A TWENTY FOR TWENTY YEARS
In celebration of the watch that made all this possible – the iconic Tambour –, La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton has created an exclusive anniversary model: the Tambour Twenty. The limited edition of 200 pieces pays tribute to the original watch by reprising the iconic codes that made it an icon of watchmaking design.
“Watch enthusiasts will recognise all the features that made the Tambour’s design so unique. While this limited edition is a true concentrate of everything that made this watch stand out, it also boasts brand new features that will set it apart for collectors,” says Jean Arnault, marketing and development director of Louis Vuitton watches. “To me, as well as celebrating our anniversary, this watch also paves the way for many future decades of fine watchmaking, staying true to Louis Vuitton’s values of creativity, craftsmanship and excellence.”
The Tambour Twenty boasts the same unique and instantly recognisable case, a nod to the watch’s tambour component which, in English, is known as the “drum”. The timepiece stands out with its deep, flared shape, which gives it a robust and reliable feel. On its iconic 41.5mm diameter case are the twelve letters that make up the name “Louis Vuitton” across the numbers and indexes, just like on the 2002 version. This collector’s edition also features a brown sun-brushed dial, along which the chronograph’s long yellow hand glides – a nod to the thread historically used in leatherwork. The two elegant sub-dials also make a comeback.
The Tambour Twenty, which is water-resistant to 100 metres, keeps time with a LV277 high frequency movement based on the iconic Zenith El Primero, the first automatic chronograph ever. This movement with a 22k gold rotor and 50 hours of power reserve is exact to the tenth of a second.
A true collector’s item, the limited-edition watch is also available with another iconic Louis Vuitton staple: a miniature trunk in Monogram canvas. A tribute to Louis Vuitton’s travel legacy, clients can continue to protect their most precious belongings in cases that will stand the test of time. With that, Louis Vuitton officially establishes its legitimacy as a bona fide haute horloger.
(Images: Louis Vuitton)