10 Years of the Louis Vuitton Tambour and the Future of Louis Vuitton Watchmaking
by Kyle Stults on October 23, 2012
Pinit

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.

Louis Vuitton Watchmaking, 2002 – 2012:  1o Years of the Tambour Collection

2002

Louis Vuitton Tambour Chrono Automatic LV277

2004

Louis Vuitton Tambour Regatta

2005

Louis Vuitton Tambour Tourbillon Monogram

Louis Vuitton Tambour Diving

2006

Louis Vuitton Tambour GMT in Black

Louis Vuitton Tambour Bijou

 Louis Vuitton Tambour Lovely Cup

2008

Louis Vuitton Tambour Orientation

2009

Louis Vuitton Tambour Mystérieuse

2010

Louis Vuitton Tambour Spin Time

Louis Vuitton Tambour Spin Time Rose Gold + Diamonds

2011

 Louis Vuitton Tambour Répétition Minutes

Louis Vuitton Tambour Capsule Chronographe Voyagez Tachymètre

Louis Vuitton Tambour Chronographe Volez Flyback

Louis Vuitton Tambour Chronographe Voyagez

2012

Louis Vuitton Tambour LV Cup Spin Time

Louis Vuitton Tambour Bijou Secret White Gold + Diamonds

Louis Vuitton Tambour America’s Cup Automatique

The Future of Louis Vuitton Watchmaking

With Louis Vuitton’s early 2011 acquisition of the Fabrique de Temps — specialists in high end watch movements and complications such as minute repeaters and tourbillons — followed ArteCad and Léman Cadrans (dial makers), Louis Vuitton is perhaps as ever as ready to help define Louis Vuitton’s status in the world of high watchmaking, exclusive though it may be.

Fabrique du Temps was founded in 2007 by master watchmakers Enrico Barbasini and Michel Navas, two of the three creators of the now-defunct BNB Concept.  Mattias Buttet, as you may know, joined Jean-Claude Biver at Hublot and has already made his mark on that brand’s high complication developments.  Barbasini and Navas are surely looking to do the same at Louis Vuitton; and indeed already they have set the tone; two of the more prominent examples being Louis Vuitton’s $310,000 minute repeater (of 2011) and the “spin time” caliber.

Of course 2013 will be the long anticipated moment when the vertical integration of the brand’s watchmaking capabilities are brought under one roof at the new Louis Vuitton manufacture in Meyrin (in Geneva).  The 70,000-square-foot facility will ready LV for the future, including its new ability to take full advantage of the Poinçon de Genève, or Geneva Seal, to further raise the status of its timepieces.  Indeed the bar has been raised for 2013 and beyond, and Louis Vuitton’s watchmaking presence will now start to be defined each year at the most important of all watch shows, Baselworld.  Which, incidentally, prior to 2011 Louis Vuitton did not even attend.  Clearly the focus has been sharpened!

Hamdi Chatti, Louis Vuitton’s head of watches and jewelry since 2010, was recently quoted in a NY Times article:  “Much of what we are doing today was decided three years ago.  Our long-term strategy is to establish ourselves as a high-end watchmaker.”  Having previously been managing director of jewelry and watches at Montblanc, and Chief Executive of Harry Winston Rare Timepieces before this, Mr. Chatti would certainly seem to have the requisite background to elevate Louis Vuitton’s status in the exclusive — and competitive — world of high watchmaking.

With the new Geneva manufacture opening and a clear organizational commitment to the long-term, 2013 should be defining and seminal year for Louis Vuitton watchmaking.  Of course, Perpetuelle will continue to bring you all the latest developments!