Robust yet fluid, the latest Tambour watch reinvents the wheel to take an iconic masterpiece to the next level.
More than two decades have passed since Louis Vuitton debuted the Tambour watch with its bold drum-shaped case, in 2002. Now slimmer and more sculptural than ever, the new Tambour watch – that comes in a silver-grey dial or a deep blue dial – has been reimagined to make the luxury watch even easier to integrate into the everyday with its casual elegance and fluidity.
At 40mm diameter, with a thickness of only 8.3mm, the unique caseback ascends in an arc towards the case middle, fitting the natural curve of the forearm as it approaches the wrist. The result is a comfortable fit achieved by echoing the topography of the human arm. Adding to its fluidity is the integrated bracelet made of slim, curved links that provide a close fit that could rival the softest leather strap. This is all thanks to how the links are designed to convex on their upper surfaces and convex on the underside, to form a rounded profile that maintains a continuous line of touch with the entire wrist.
This integrated bracelet seen on the new Tambour watch is a first for Louis Vuitton. Melding seamlessly into the case, the bracelet features a lug-free construction that makes the new Tambour the only truly round watch with an integrated bracelet. A triple-blade folding buckle marked by the engraved LOUIS VUITTON on the end link provides an invisible closure while the absence of the polished central link that separates each brushed link from the next, makes this a truly seamless design.
The new Tambour doesn’t just celebrate the new though. It also amplifies what has defined this line: a round case with curved sides, marked with the 12 letters LOUIS VUITTON, and a near architectural approach to dimension and proportion. This time though, the letters are raised and polished, with each minutely sculpted letter in line with an hour marker, and presented on a sandblasted bezel with polished rims.
Slim as it may be, the dial shows depth and three-dimensionality. First, the split-level chapter ring – an outer ring for the minuterie and an inner ring for the hours, both with micro-sandblasted main surfaces – is divided by a polished step. Then there are the dial markers that are complementary in spatial balance, with the 5-minute markers being recessed, and the hours indicated with appliques. This difference in the height level of the markers allows for quick reading, given how the light falls on on them variably. Adding to this functionality are the indexes in gold, diamond polished to amplify their interaction with light, and the numerals and hands filled with Super-LumiNova, ensuring legibility even in dim conditions. On top of these details, 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, while the slimmer hands allow more visibility of the dial, resulting in an overall “lightness” of the watch, visually and conceptually.
In terms of tone, the new Tambour refreshes its identity with a central brushed dial section that indicates LOUIS VUITTON PARIS, a declaration of the Maison’s origins, founded in Paris in 1854. Below the snailed small-seconds counter, FAB. EN SUISSE (abbreviated from “Fabriqué en Suisse”) replaces the more familiar SWISS MADE quality assurance, alluding to historic fine-watchmaking dials of the 1950s and 1960s.
With this launch, we seek to open a new chapter in the history of the Maison’s watchmaking by creating a watch with strong horological credentials while identifiably Louis Vuitton in style.
Jean Arnault, Watch Director at Louis Vuitton
Besides the attention given to the aesthetic details, there is another first here: the exclusive new automatic movement designed by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, the watchmaking atelier of the Maison in Geneva. Founded and led by master watchmakers Enrico Barbasini and Michel Navas, La Fabrique du Temps has brought award-winning horological complications to Louis Vuitton.
The new cal. LFT023 is more than the movement driving the evolved Tambour, it is also the first proprietary automatic three-hand movement designed by Louis Vuitton in conjunction with movement specialists Le Cercle des Horlogers to fully embody the Maison’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.
Like the exterior design of the watch, the movement is a balance between the contemporary – micro-sandblasted bridges, polished edges and chamfers – and the conventional – circular-grained mainplate harks back to traditional movement decoration. Colourless transparent jewels are used instead of conventional magenta movement rubies to maintain the avant-garde visual approach of the cal. LFT023. The micro-rotor is in high-inertia 22k gold, paired with peripheral gearing that provides exceptionally efficient winding to the barrel with 50 hours of power reserve on a 4Hz (28,800vph) escapement.
Solid in make and presence while remaining sensual and fluid, the Tambour follows “…the same quest for modernity, elegance and functionality that the Maison has been built on for more than 160 years”, in the words of Jean Arnault, Watch Director at Louis Vuitton.
Images courtesy of Louis Vuitton, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.