Louis Vuitton: Tambour12 July 2023
In 2002, Louis Vuitton premiered the Tambour watch, an immediately recognisable drum-shaped case with a bold vision of time interpretation. After 21 years, the Tambour has matured, and its next expression comes in a slimmer form, characterised by exceptional finish.
“After twenty years of audacious watchmaking design based on the renowned Tambour shape, and with the same quest for modernity, elegance and functionality that the Mason has been built on for more than 160 years, Louis Vuitton elevates its watch offer with an unprecedented level of sophistication, on each and every element of the new watch”, says Jean Arnault, Watch Director.
Two steel versions distinguish the launch of the new Tambour, reinforcing the designation of this collection for daily wear. A tone-on-tone model with silver-grey dial and one with a contrasting deep blue dial with integrated bracelet and an exclusive new and beautifully crafted automatic movement designed by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton.
ERGONOMIC CASE AND BRACELET
What makes a Tambour watch? A round case with curved sides, marked with the 12 letters LOUIS VUITTON embossed on the bezel, a certain volume, almost architectural in its approach to dimension and proportion. To begin, a modern morphology, with a fully unisex 40mm diameter and an 8.3mm thick case that follows the line of any wearer’s arm. The integrated bracelet on the new Tambour, a first for Louis Vuitton, is a blend of robustness and fluidity, its slim, curved links providing a close and comfortable fit on the wrist.
Everything about the new Louis Vuitton Tambour comes down to the design, which is to say that everything has a meaning and a reason. The exterior of the watch, every surface that contacts the skin, is shaped to accommodate the body. The caseback is not flat, but ascends in an arc towards the case middle, fitting the natural curve of the forearm as it approaches the wrist. In echoing the topography of the human arm, the Tambour appears even slimmer than its 8.3mm. The bracelet links, convex on their upper surfaces and convex on the underside, form a rounded profile that maintains a continuous line of touch with the entire wrist.
The bracelet melds seamlessly into the case, a lug-free construction that makes the new only truly round watch with an integrated bracelet. An invisible closure completes the sleek aesthetic of the bracelet, attained with a triple-blade folding buckle whose position can be identified only through subtle cues: the engraved LOUIS VUITTON on the end link, and the absence central link that separates each brushed link from the next.
LIGHT AND REGIBILITY
In contrast with the taut curves of the case and bracelet, the dial of the new Tambour conveys surprising depth and three-dimensionality. A split-level chapter ring, divided by a polished step, consists of an outer ring for the minuterie and an inner ring for the hours, both with micro-sandblasted main surfaces. The dial markers are designed to complement each other in terms of spatial balance, with the 5-minute markers being recessed, while the hours are indicated with appliques. This difference in the height level of the markers allows for quick reading, since the light interacts variably between them, a variation that our eyes subconsciously register even if we do not actively take notice. The indexes are in gold, diamond polished to amplify their interaction with light, but even in dim conditions, the new Tambour remains fully legible, thanks to the numerals and hands filled with Super-LumiNova.
The evolution of the gold Tambour hands from broad batons into tapered and facetted openworked hands brings an additional sense of space to the display. The slimmer hands allow more of the dial to be seen at any moment, resulting in an overall lightening of the watch.
The new Tambour comes with a new statement of identity on its central brushed dial section, LOUIS VUITTON PARIS, a declaration of the Mason’s origins, founded in Paris in 1854. Tucked below the snailed small-seconds counter, FAB. EN SUISSE replaces the more familiar SWISS MADE quality assurance, a small change that alludes to historic fine-watchmaking dials of the 1950s and 1960s. In its unabbreviated form, the phrase is “Fabriqué en Suisse” – an allusion to La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton and the elevated levels of craftsmanship present in this timepiece.
THE NEW IN-HOUSE MOVEMENT
The new cal. LFT023 is more than the movement driving the Tambour, it is also the first proprietary automatic three-hand movement designed by Louis Vuitton in conjunction with Le Cercle des Horlogers to fully embody the Mason’s visual codes, from the barrel cover with openworking reminiscent of a Monogram Flower to the micro-rotor decorated with a stylised LV in a repeating motif. It is resolutely contemporary, with micro-sandblasted bridges, polished edges and chamfers replicating the aesthetic vocabulary of the rest of the watch. A circular-grained mainplate is a nod to traditional movement decoration, but the colourless transparent jewels in place of the conventional magenta movement rubies maintains the avant-garde visual approach of the cal. LFT023. The micro-rotor is in high-inertia 22k gold, paired with peripheral gearing that provides 50 hours of power reserve on a 4Hz (28,800vph) escapement.
Chronometer certified to the same performance standards that apply across some of the most important watchmakers, the cal. LFT023 has a timekeeping accuracy of between -4s and +6s per day. This certification comes from the Geneva Chronometric Observatory under the auspices of the TIMELAB Foundation, ensuring that the cal. LFT023 complies with the rigorous standards of ISO 3159 and its exacting criteria for timekeeping accuracy. Louis Vuitton is the first watchmaking company to certify its pieces through the Geneva Chronometric Observatory, demonstrating the Mason’s ongoing commitment to excellence and quality in modern horology. (Price €. 19,500)