Watches & Wonders: Louis Vuitton’s Tambour Line Gets A Sporty Diver, Tourbillon, And An Automaton
The new Street Diver timepieces are crafted of PVD-coated stainless steel and feature an internal rotating bezel for tracking dive time. But Louis Vuitton hasn’t ignored high watchmaking this year; the brand also introduced a flying tourbillon and an automaton watch.
When Louis Vuitton burst onto the watchmaking scene at the Baselworld in 2002, it went all-out, presenting on a riverboat with an interior fully customized in true Louis Vuitton style. That same year, the Tambour case design was born. Crafted from a single block of metal, its uniqueness wowed the press and caused quite a buzz at the show.
Beating Their Own Drum
Tambour means drum in French, and the round case shape tapers inward slightly from its base to the top. Since its introduction, the unique watch shape has been instantly recognizable as Louis Vuitton. This year, the brand is introducing its take on the dive watch but inside its iconic Tambour case, giving it a decidedly urban vibe.
There are four versions of the new Tambour Street Diver: three are in 44mm cases and one is in a 39.5mm case. And they are functional dive watches in every sense. The Tambour Street Diver has everything a diver needs: a unidirectional bezel, a high-water resistance, non-corrosive case and strap, luminous hands and markers, and a movement that can withstand a few undersea knocks.
More than just a dive watch, the Tambour Street Diver’s bold, urban, street style is unmistakable. The deep, saturated colors of the three 44mm models pairs with bold accents for a cosmopolitan flair.
The Tambour Street Diver Skyline Blue features a 44mm steel case with blue Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) accents and a deep blue dial. The watch is available with a choice of two straps, each bearing Louis Vuitton in bold lettering, one in navy blue with light blue lettering, and one in light blue with navy lettering. It is priced at $7,505.
The 44mm Tambour Street Diver Neon Black is fully coated in black PVC with a deep black dial. It has neon yellow accents, including the 15-minute dive timer section of the interior bezel, and comes on either a black strap with neon yellow lettering or neon yellow strap with black lettering. It is priced at $7,505.
The last of the 44mm models, the Tambour Street Diver Black Blaze, incorporates pink gold as its accent color, and its case is also fully coated in black PVC. It is priced at $16,910.
It is an auspicious coincidence the name "Louis Vuitton" has exactly 12 letters. And the brand has utilized its name to great effect in its watches since its inception.
On all of the Street Diver models, the letters "L-O-U-I-S-V-U-I-T-T-O-N" ring the case sides and are in line with the hour markers on the dial. On the Neon Blue and Black Blaze versions, the brand name is stamped through the metal case-band, showing the PVD coating below. But on the Neon Black version, the name appears on the PVD-coated case-band in neon yellow.
Similar to the Neon Black, the 39.5mm Tambour Street Diver Pacific White version has the brand appearing on the stainless steel case-ban in royal blue. Moreover, the blue accents on the watch dial and navy lettering on the rubber strap invoke a decidedly nautical feel. It is priced at $5,200.
A New Flying Tourbillon
Travel is in the very DNA of Louis Vuitton. Founded in 1854, the brand’s first products were luggage and travel bags. It’s no wonder, then, that a GMT function would be a desirable complication for the brand.
This year, Louis Vuitton is pairing a flying tourbillon with a GMT function. The Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon builds on the Tambour Curve Flying Tourbillon Poinçon de Genève, which was launched last year. This year, the watch’s design “presents a modern, contemporary look with a luxury that is all about understatement,” according to the brand. The flying tourbillon can be viewed from the top as well as from the sides of the case.
The new 46mm Louis Vuitton Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon comes in three versions: one in titanium for $79,000, one in pink gold for $91,000, and one in a titanium case with a meteorite dial and baguette-cut diamond indices for $103,000.
Seize the Day with an Automaton
Automatons were once very popular in watchmaking. People loved watching when tiny figures would move according to the time or activated by the push of a button. They provided entertainment as well.
A “jacquemart” automaton tells the time by a striking mechanism indicating the hours and minutes. And Louis Vuitton sought to recreate a jacquemart for the Tambour Carpe Diem (“seize the day” in Latin) watch, with a skull and a snake that are both decorative and functional. The watch’s framework “was built around two major axes,” according to the brand. “By pressing a push-piece, the dial’s miniature scenery comes to life on the wrist, and the story’s protagonists, the snake and the skull, perform the role of jacquemarts, to indicate the time.”
But that’s not all - the Tambour Carpe Diem also features a jumping hour, retrograde minute indicator, and a power reserve display. And though Louis Vuitton has, in the past, created automaton watches for clients on a special-order basis, the brand decided to “lift the veil on the mystery by creating a one-of-a-kind model.” We’re glad they did.
The Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem comes in a 46.80mm 18K pink gold case that is 14.42mm thick. It features the LV 525 movement with a minute repeater, a jacquemart with four automatons – one for the jumping hour, retrograde minute hand, power reserve indicator, and the skull’s jaw – and 100-hour power reserve. It is priced at $475,000.
(Images © Louis Vuitton)