Introducing the Louis Vuitton Novelties at Watches and Wonders 2021By Israel Ortega
Tambour Carpe Diem
The Tambour Carpe Diem is one of those watches that attracts a lot of attention. And rightly so. This highly artistic timepiece which took two years to develop takes the skull watch design concept to the level of performative art.
The Tambour Carpe Diem is built around two main axes to obtain a functional automaton (or jacquemart) that shows the time on demand without using hands. By pressing a pusher, the miniature scenography of the dial comprising a rattlesnake and skull comes to life to indicate the hours and minutes. To reveal the time, you first engage the ophidian-shaped pusher located at two o’clock. The rattlesnake’s head then rises to reveal the hours aperture located on the skull’s forehead, while its tail swings towards the minutes, located below the hourglass of the power reserve.
As the eye of the skull makes way for Louis Vuitton’s signature flower motif, its mouth opens to display the phrase “Carpe Diem” (meaning “seize the day” in Latin), which appeared in Book 1 of the Roman poet Horace’s Odes in 23 BC. The clockwork movement goes on for 16 seconds and each of its operations is clear and precise.
Entirely developed and assembled at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton (a facility located just outside Geneva and operating since 2014), the watch’s 426-component LV 525 manual winding caliber demonstrates the brand’s true horological prowess and is currently the subject of several patent applications. Offering four functions — jumping hours, retrograde minutes, a power reserve indicator, and the automaton with four moving parts — the caliber’s design is also uniquely skull-shaped and can be seen on the back of the watch.
The playful timepiece comes in a 46.8mm 18K pink gold case with a reasonable height of 14.42mm. A sapphire dome reveals the splendid time display. The dial, snake, and teeth decoration are hand executed by master enameler Anita Porchet, while the engravings are the work of master craftsman Dick Steenman. A small diamond on the dial and two rubies for the snake’s eyes add the final embellishments to this special timepiece.
For those of us who love automatons in watches, the Tambour Carpe Diem is a real trip with its mesmerizing time-reveal mechanism. While we may remember LV’s colorful and (some say) notorious watches from the recent past, this time they have blown it out of the water. The Carpe Diem is one of the most unique interpretations of the “skull watch” in recent years, and boy, have there been many of those! The list of brands that have launched skull watches in the past decade is formidable and it reflects the charm of this memento mori inspired theme.
However, the macabre symbol is usually limited to an ornamental role — or maybe even a structural one, when the skull supports the watch’s movement — with few exceptions that take advantage of the design to integrate some function. Louis Vuitton joins this artsy conglomerate but redefines it with remarkable originality.
The animation on the Carpe Diem dial is easily one of the most creative automatons of recent times with its striking artisanship and the integration of time-telling function. One shouldn’t miss the fact that Louis Vuitton is one of the six houses to regularly obtain the highest official approval of Geneva watchmaking: the Geneva Seal. This is a good reminder of Louis Vuitton’s horological sense, which is to create watches that are artistic and entertaining yet also technically robust and functional. The Tambour Carpe Diem wastes no time to achieve this.
However, the macabre effigy is usually limited to an ornamental role —or maybe even a structural one, when the skull supports the watch’s movement— with few exceptions that take advantage of the design to integrate some function. Louis Vuitton joins this artsy conglomerate and redefines it with remarkable originality.
The animation on the Carpe Diem dial is worthy of recognition as one of the most original automatons of recent times, as its overall artistry is overwhelming. The fact that the automaton is so clearly linked to the time indication in such a creative way is to be appreciated.
One shouldn’t miss the fact that Louis Vuitton is one of the six houses to have earned the highest official approval of Geneva watchmaking: the Geneva Seal. This is a good reminder of the sense with which Louis Vuitton likes to have fun and entertain us with its signature watchmaking. The Tambour Carpe Diem wastes no time to achieve it.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem Ref. Q1EN0Y
Mechanical, hand-wound; calibre LV 525; jumping hours and retrograde minutes; power reserve indicator; four-element automaton; 21,600 bph; 100-hour power reserve
Rose gold, 46.8 mm; domed sapphire crystal; engraved dial elements; enamel and miniature hand-painted dial; see-through sapphire case back, 30-meter water resistance
Black alligator leather with folding buckle
Tambour Street Diver
From its launch in 2002, Louis Vuitton’s watch division has strived to create pieces that present its views of originality, artisanship, and functionality. That’s why most LV watches have more than one complication and are presented in daring ways. The new Street Diver —the new member of the Tambour family— expands on this idea.
As the name suggests, the Tambour shape was inspired by a drum. The case is crafted from a single block of metal, which is larger at the base than at its top. Attached to it is a set of integrated horns that are pretty good-looking and enhance the watch’s overall shape and classy presentation. As usual, the hours are indicated on the case band by the 12 letters of the maison’s name. These essential elements highlight a story of 19 years of Tambours, amongst which there have been some enjoyable and remarkable watches, such as the Curve Flying Tourbillon of 2020. However, aside from the epic Carpe Diem, this 2021, the Tambour is all about exploring new worlds (or high-end, sea-side destinations) more straightforwardly.
The Tambour Street Diver is LV’s answer to the versatile dive watches that have become the go-to pieces for executives and sportspeople alike. But what’s different about the Street Diver is that, unlike other dive watches with a tool watch aesthetic, it brings together a dive watch’s robust requirements while retaining the brand’s fun and colorful style.
Admittedly, the Tambour Street Diver is no professional dive watch (nor does it pretend to be), but it ticks the basic must-haves of a diver: screw-down crowns; inner, unidirectional 60-minute diving scale on the dial’s flange; lots of Super-LumiNova on the markings and hands; a good 100-meter water resistance. These elements are featured within a 44mm case for the self-winding models and a 39.5mm enclosure for the quartz one. A quick-change strap system allows for even more personalization, which adds to the Street Diver’s lively colors. The automatic watches are available in the following variations: Skyline Blue (steel PVD case with two-tone blue and white on the dial), Neon Black (black PVD case with black and yellow), and Black Blaze (steel PVD with pink gold bezel and black and pink on the dial). In contrast, the Pacific White (white and blue) is restricted to the quartz movement and smaller case.
The strange name notwithstanding (what is a street diver?), this watch is good-looking and manages to add a bit of haute couture originality to the typical dive watch concept. Between the generous 44mm cases and the colorful offerings, these timepieces are decidedly more joyful than serious and they surely stand out from the crowd. The 39.5mm offering is attractive and not too small to be considered delicate, so both women and men can find it appealing, with the only trade-off being that it has a quartz movement (for the time being, at least). That said, the 44mm size is both fun and charming and will undoubtedly find a way to some of the best trendy port cities this summer.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Street Diver
Mechanical, self-winding; hours, minutes and small seconds
Steel with PVD finish; 44mm (mechanical) or 39.5mm (quartz); inner diving unidirectional scale on the dial’s flange operated by screw-down crown at 2 o’clock;100-meter water resistance
Rubber with brand engravings