Louis Vuitton celebrates 20 years of watchmakingBy Bhanu Chopra
It’s been two decades since Louis Vuitton introduced the first of their high watchmaking pieces: the Tambour. The watch featured a brown dial inspired by the maison’s iconic monogram and equipped with a COSC-certified automatic Zenith El Primero movement.
This first model included a few variations, including a simple quartz with central three-hand timekeeping and a chronograph complication. The polished steel case was engraved with the Louis Vuitton brand name, aligned perfectly to each numeral on the dial. Named for its unique drum-like case, the Tambour put Louis Vuitton on the map as a watchmaker.
The Tambour has seen many design updates over the 20 years that followed. It showcased the brand’s close relationship with the world of water sports with regatta timers and diving watches, their dedication to world travel with GMT watches, and their mastery of high fashion with the innovative Spin Time and jewel encrusted models.
Louis Vuitton watchmaking is also being recognized by its peers and experts in the industry. In 2021, the Tambour Carpe Diem received the Audacity Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, while the Tambour Street Diver won the Diver’s Watch prize.
To celebrate the 20-year anniversary, Louis Vuitton is returning to its roots with Tambour Twenty, a timepiece that brings together many milestones for a new watch that showcases their talent for making beautiful and complex watches.
Designed for beauty
The 41.5mm case of the new Tambour is made from flawlessly polished stainless steel and is true to the flared “drum” shape of its predecessors. Around the case is the name “Louis Vuitton,” aligned to the numerals in the same way as it was in the 2002 original. The “LV” embossed crown and two chronograph pushers are polished to give a smooth and harmonious impression.
The dial is a gorgeous sun-brushed dial in a rich brown shade that picks up the light for a display that has a dynamic aspect. The clean numerals and minutes track in white and the simple, elegant hour and minute hands create a highly legible dial and the askew date window is just unobtrusive enough to fit in well.
The long hand of the chronograph, as well as the petite hands for the black snailed subdials, are a golden yellow in homage to the thread of the maison’s popular bags. The caseback is polished stainless steel with a sapphire crystal to view the mechanicals that are as striking as the dial. The limited edition of 200 pieces is engraved on the caseback along with the Louis Vuitton name and Swiss-made designation.
Crafted for endurance
The first Tambour Chronograph LV277 in 2002 was equipped with a COSC-certified automatic Zenith El Primero movement. Therefore, it is befitting that inside the polished case is the La Fabrique du Temps’ LV277 high-frequency movement, developed from the famous Zenith El Primero automatic chronograph. The caliber LV277 features a 22K pink gold oscillating weight, a prominent feature visible through the caseback. At 36,000 vibrations per hour, this high-frequency movement is exact to the tenth of a second and features automatic winding and a chronograph high complication. The case has been engineered for water resistance up to 100 meters and the movement has a 50-hour power reserve, making the Tambour Twenty a perfect companion for an adventurous outing.
Superb finishing touches
The attention to detail and quality doesn’t stop at the timepiece. The watch is paired with a handsome alligator strap in a rich dark brown that complements the brown dial well and highlights the contrast with the polished stainless steel case. The watch is presented in a charming Louis Vuitton miniature trunk with Monogram canvas as a tribute to the brand’s long history of serving clients during their travels.
A tribute timepiece
The Tambour Twenty is a fitting tribute to the success and innovation of Louis Vuitton’s journey through high watchmaking. It incorporates the design aesthetic and commitment to quality that have made the brand what it is today. It’s an exciting addition to the Tambour line with just the right blend of nostalgia and progress.
“Watch enthusiasts will recognize 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 for 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.”
Louis Vuitton Tambour Twenty
Movement: Self-winding La Fabrique du Temps caliber LV 277; 50-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date
Case: 41.5mm; polished stainless steel; water resistant to 100m
Dial: Brown sunray with black snailed counters; applied Arabic numerals and hour markers
Strap: Interchangeable dark brown alligator & Nomade calf leather
Price: USD 17,800