Please welcome the 2021 Louis Vuitton Tambour
Watch enthusiasts are aware of Louis Vuitton's watch department's legacy and expertise. By opening the "Fabrique du Temps," the French luxury brand has gathered under a 4000 square meters roof an outstanding team of designers and watchmakers, who pride themselves on crafting some of the most prestigious high-end timepieces in the industry.
The Tambour collection, which is synonymous with watchmaking at Louis Vuitton, is the accessible sports-luxury collection par excellence, despite that case having housed stunning mechanical complications along the way. Please let me pick two examples: the first is the Spin Time, a patented mechanism that looks outstanding when paired with the Tambour Regatta Louis Vuitton Cup, for instance; the latter is a "forbidden fruit", the top-end reference LV 40 housing a Minute Repeating complication. Finally, I can't forget the brand's take on professional diving, represented by the Tambour Diving 300, a hard-to-find timepiece these days.
Therefore, there is no doubt that the overhauled Tambour collection is again Louis Vuitton's hero product in 2021. Initially introduced in 2002, the LV Tambour comes in an updated style along with a fresh take represented by the Curve; while the Tambour Street Diver is a three-hands timepiece, the Tambour Curve is avantgarde, exploiting uncharted territory in either style and technique with the likes of the Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon. Last but not least, we couldn't forget adding the outrageous Tambour Carpe Diem to this report; here is where the Fabrique Du Temps' technical prowess and decorative art reach their peak.
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As outlined above, the Tambour collection marked Louis Vuitton's step into the realm of luxury sports watchmaking back in 2002. The new one takes the original format to new heights, while the outgoing one has been produced in countless options, including a long list of patented mechanical complications. The 2021 Tambour gets the Street Diver moniker; it holds the collection's foothold while gearing towards an audience different from its predecessor's. You'll, therefore, find the inner rotating and graduated bezel you're familiar with, operated using a rubber crown with the effigy of a diver atop. By pulling the crown out, you can align the "V" on the bezel with its counterpart you'll find on the minute hand instead, as you're about to begin your diving session.
The Street Diver moniker proves the 2021 Tambour's new ambitions. The new model, rated at 100 meters, is designed for recreational diving rather than professional diving. Back in time, Louis Vuitton introduced plenty of 300m water-resistant Tambour; let's wait and see what the future holds with the renovated Tambour collection, although I feel the current offering will explore new segments. Louis Vuitton has taken the curtain off four options, coming in four different color and material combinations; three out of four are self-winding and geared towards men since they come with a 44 mm, and 12.8 mm thick case. An additional option measures 39.5 mm and is powered by a quartz movement; it's the brand's value proposition for her.
The self-winding variants come with a customized ETA 2895 movement; you can see it through the case back, which is open and not solid any longer. From a consumer perspective, the new collection welcomes a quick-change system to easily swap the rubber strap through two tiny buttons, as pictured above. I hardly understand what kind of strap you can change yours with since you are not yet provided with a steel bracelet and replacing rubber with another rubber strap makes no sense since they're color-matched to the Tambour you're choosing. We love the detail that designers removed any date window from the dial, which looks no-frills and super clean now. You can either opt for a steel case (entirely or partly treated with PVD) or pink gold and black PVD; the new Tambour Street Diver retails from 5920 Euros to 13300 Euros.
The 2021 Tambour Curve follows up the 2020 Tambour Curve Flying Tourbillon Poinçon de Genève, an unusual combination of savoir-faire and innovation (the case comes as a compound of carbon fiber and titanium). The Curve flagship collection welcomes a new tourbillon, the Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon. The case draws inspiration from the so-called "Mobiüs strip"; the designers' goal was to offer a fluid surface that any wearer can perceive as free from any geometric constraint.
The curved case and sapphire crystal enhance the timepiece's overall dimensions - 46 mm across and 13.15 mm thick - but the case body comes in Grade 5 Titanium and, depending on which option you pick, lugs, pushers, crown, and dial are in pink gold or titanium instead. The full-titanium Curve has a sandwich dial with a meteorite layer beneath. The applied indexes are curved too. The crown includes small rubber inserts to ease grip and match the LV rubber strap with a folding clasp. Case and lugs are almost entirely sandblasted if we exclude the fine mirror polishing between lugs and case, crown's and pushers' knurling.
The symmetrical dial holds the flying tourbillon cage with LV initials at nine and a GMT display at three, which you can adjust while traveling by pushing the buttons on the right, to move GMT's hand forward or backward, according to which timezone you're traveling. The caliber is conceived and assembled entirely in-house.
Coded as LV 82, it boasts a one-minute flying tourbillon, has 201 parts, and vibrates at 4 Hertz, guaranteeing 65 hours of power reserve when fully wound. It's a great example of craftsmanship but I admit I'd love to see a three-hands Tambour Curve as an option.
The Louis Vuitton Carpe Diem is the icing on the cake for the 2021 Tambour (Tambour Sapphire apart). Although it comes as a one-off piece that we expect Louis Vuitton to manufacture on-demand, the Carpe Diem stands as Louis Vuitton's offering in the automatons' class of products.
Whether you like skulls and snakes or not, we can't deny that artistry and design are extraordinary. The case is impressive, measuring 46.8 mm in size and 14.42mm in thickness. Nonetheless, it houses an unusual combination of complications, including four animations, paired with unprecedented levels of decoration and engravings that involved two independent and famed artists.
How does it work? By pressing the snake-shaped button on the case, the snake's tail and head start moving. The first one thus displays the retrograde minutes, while the snake's head uncovers the hidden hour instead. Therefore, the time display is hidden and available on request; simultaneously, the skull's eye turns the rounded, four-petaled flower into a four-pointed star, according to the LV monogram's design. During the 16-seconds animation, the skull's mouth jaw lowers to uncover the "Carpe Diem" word.
The LV 525 caliber is made up of 426 parts and has a quite impressive 100-hour power reserve. Although these flagship timepieces are usually restricted to an audience of super collectors who love a design this disruptive, I admire the uncommon union of micro-engineering and engraving plus enameling. As far as decoration is concerned, Louis Vuitton involved Dick Steenman and Anita Porchet, respectively.
The former is the founder of ART&D and is among the leading micro-engraving experts whose art of work includes countless executions on high-end jewelry pieces; Anita Porchet is one of the most respected artisans in hand-enameling and miniature painting, whose portfolio consists of Patek, Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Fabergé to name a few.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Louis Vuitton)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®