Participating for the fourth time, Louis Vuitton has produced a superb piece unique for the upcoming Only Watch charity auction. As in prior years, Louis Vuitton’s piece for Only Watch 2013 is extra special because it was designed in collaboration with young Paul Pettavino. Paul has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and it is research towards a cure for this disease which proceeds of the event go to support. Paul’s father LUC is president of the Monaco Association against Muscular Dystrophies and a figurehead in the Only Watch event. This year, Paul designed the enamel and gold sailboat or painted on the dial and the painted Louis Vuitton Damier canvas trunk. A message signed by the young boy is also stuffed inside.
Louis Vuitton unveiled a very neat and unique new complication at Baselworld 2013, a dual chronograph + differential display. Developed in-house by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, the caliber is specifically intended for match racing, though there are a number of other uses for this type of functionality. This first-of-its-kind complication displays two distinct chronograph times, as well as the difference between the two at any given moment. The mechanical ingenuity of the 437-component caliber is complemented by extremely simple means of operation (a four-stroke monopusher) as well as a beautiful aesthetic highlighted by a blue grand feu enamel dial. I will break it all down for you, below.
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2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the Louis Vuitton Tambour collection. In fact, 10 years ago the Tambour marked LV’s entry into the world of watchmaking. As its name implies the Tambour, or “drum”, watch was originally inspired by the Japanese Kodo drummers and their taiko drums. The Tambour collection for LV is also distinguishable by its 12 letters “Louis Vuitton” engraved on the caseband at each hour, and also (but not always) the use of the color yellow — a nod to the waxed thread used in Louis Vuitton’s iconic handbags.
Over the last ten years there has been a wide range of Tambour references launched by the brand representing a broad array of functions, complications and price points. There have been chronographs and regatta timers, tourbillons and minute repeaters…and unique complications such as the “Spin Time” and the “Mysterieuse”. Without a doubt, the Tambour collection is an interesting one (both mechanically and aesthetically), though it is likely that the brand’s dominant perception as a haute fashion and leather goods house has overshadowed its horological presentations. But this is all about to change, and Louis Vuitton’s standing as a serious watchmaker is about to get much more credible.
Louis Vuitton has taken several steps in recent years to vertically integrate its production capabilities, including recent acquisitions of movement and dial makers. This will all culminate in a new Louis Vuitton manufacture, in Geneva, in 2013. There is no doubt that Louis Vuitton’s horological ambitions are as great as ever. Though assuredly the mark’s presence in the world of fine watchmaking will remain very limited, serving the upper circles of the watch world with an increasingly sophisticated and integrated approach.
Follow along as we take a look back at ten years of the Tambour Collection — and explore the future of Louis Vuitton watchmaking.
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Triple-circle tachymeter scale…
In the wake of the first Louis Vuitton automatic chronograph Tachymeter launched in 2011 (yes you saw it here), the famous Parisian trunk maker Louis Vuitton continues to explore the universe with the arrival of the Voyagez Tambour Chronograph Edition II. This eye catching timepiece is available in 44 mm steel or rose gold (limited edition of respectively 888 and 88 copies) and features a triple-circle tachymeter scale, a feature which I am absolutely positively certainly quite sure will be used often by the wearer to calculate his average speed. Here’s how it works: the small subdial at 3 o’clock is the normal time seconds; the larger red center-set hand is the chronograph seconds; the small red central hand marks chronograph minutes. Any questions? Personally, this one is a bit too complicated looking for me — I’d take last year’s model, given the choice.
Louis Vuitton Voyagez Tambour Chronograph Watch II
Limited edition 888 pieces steel, 88 rose gold
44mm case, automatic mechanical Dubois-Depraz Caliber for LV