Watch & Jewellery
A LEGIT CASE: Louis Vuitton's Tambour Twenty Chronograph
Text by Kee | Photos courtesy of Louis Vuitton
16.09.2022
Louis Vuitton's 'Tambour Twenty Chronograph'
Louis Vuitton's 'Tambour Twenty Chronograph'
Louis Vuitton's 'Tambour Twenty Chronograph'
Louis Vuitton's 'Tambour Twenty Chronograph'
Louis Vuitton's 'Tambour Twenty Chronograph'
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Let’s set the record straight: Louis Vuitton had wristwatches in its catalogue prior to 2002. It would be crazy to assume that a luxury house of such storied history and size weren’t offering timekeepers as an accessorising choice to the most discerning dresser. But that was the extent of what Louis Vuitton’s watches were pre-Y2K, merely an accessory. Purists were not taking it taking seriously until 2002 when the luxury house surprised many by signalling its strongest intent to be a legit watchmaker. That means manufacturing majority of its components, assembling its timepieces, and packaging it all under one roof – a tall order that only a handful of today’s leading marques can lay claim to due to astronomical outlays. In Louis Vuitton’s case, it was willing to put in the money and work by investing smart and bringing in talents with the right experience. Its introduction into fine watchmaking truly started with the release of the Tambour in 2002. Although not obvious at first glance, the Tambour case – which means drum in French – was a bold first step. Ask any watch designer today to redesign a round watch case without forgoing the popularity of the shape and you might get a blank look in return. (Let’s just say that not even a car manufacturer would dare propose an alternative to the shape of a rubber tyre.) The Tambour case is shaped like a drum sculpted from a block of metal; think of it like a plateau formation that is flat on the top and slightly wider at the base. Then, using the 12 letters of the Louis Vuitton name, each letter is engraved on the case band corresponding to an hour marker. It was an ingenious package and dare we say one of the most underrated and understated case designs in modern day horology. Plenty of thought also went into the dial work, a sun-brushed finish on brown with accents of yellow – colourways alluding to its iconic leather goods and stitching. In the case of the original Tambour Chronograph – it also launched a basic three-hander in its debut – it was powered by a COSC-certified self-winding El Primero movement by Zenith, known in the industry as the very first chrono movement and a reliable workhorse of an engine that is exact to a tenth of a second. And although Louis Vuitton still has its fair share of detractors trying to pour cold water on its lofty ambitions, it is able to hold its head up high that the Tambour has not gone out of style 20 years since its debut. Today, it celebrates this milestone with the launch of a limited edition Tambour Twenty that is nearly identical to the original chronograph of 2002, a gentle reminder of how far it has come. The 41.5mm stainless steel case remains, housing the same self-winding LV 277 high-frequency movement that is based on the El Primero movement that packs a 50-hour of power reserve. Flip to the case back to enjoy a peek of the movement along with a gilded pink gold rotor commissioned for this release. Louis Vuitton spent plenty of time tightening the loose ends for this, including the dial work that now features a more pronounced concave design that has been adopted by the Tambour in recent years. Another minor tweak on this celebratory model is the central sub-dial at 6 o’clock. It is now flushed with the main dial and features a printed Twenty that marks the anniversary. Only 200 pieces have been greenlit for this launch and we’re not expecting them to remain unattended for long. It’s time many start putting respect on the name.

www.louisvuitton.com

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