The director of watches at Louis Vuitton, Jean Arnault — “a collector at heart” — has answered the market’s call for an integrated steel sports watch from the luxury brand by introducing a new chapter for LV’s emblematic Tambour. The youngest member of the luxury industry’s richest family may not be much older than the brand’s first timepiece, which premiered in 2002, but he has clearly been set on making his mark since taking over the division last year.
The new Tambour makes a statement, completely reimagining its now 21-year-old predecessor while embodying the essential codes of the original design inspired by the taiko — a traditional Japanese drum — that became the cornerstone of an extensive collection. Where initially a thicker silhouette celebrated the curvaceousness of the unique drum-shaped case design, the focus of the new unisex 40mm Tambour Steel is on ergonomics, with a slimmed-down 8.3mm profile. An inflection point at the base of its gentle curve also means that the new case appears even slimmer while ensuring comfort on the wrist.
Its fluid lines continue in the curved, brushed links of the integrated steel bracelet that blends seamlessly with its perfectly round case through a lug-free assemblage. Polished highlights in the chamfers and central links add nuance to the bracelet design. The bezel is sandblasted with a polished rim and features the 12 letters of “Louis Vuitton” in relief around its edge, corresponding with the hour markers.
As with its high-end watchmaking, the superior levels of craftsmanship that are so distinctly LV continue throughout these “entry-level” pieces. The play of light reveals the gradient surface treatments on the dial, from the micro-blasted split-level chapter ring and inner ring for the hours, separated by a polished step, to the brushed inner circle and snailed small-seconds counter. Bold applied white-gold Arabic numerals and indexes echo the style of earlier models and bring further three-dimensionality and legibility to the overall design. Skeletal hands, numerals, and indexes are coated with Super-LumiNova.
Conceived and assembled at LV’s La Fabrique du Temps, inside the evolved Tambour is the new calibre LFT023 — LV’s first propriety automatic three-hand movement, created with movement specialists Le Cercle des Horlogers. Every component is a work of art, hand-finished and detailed with great finesse, to be appreciated through an open case back. The micro-rotor is crafted from high-inertia 22kt rose gold and decorated with a stylised “LV” in a repeated motif. Certification from the Geneva Chronometric Observatory ensures that the movement complies with the high standards of ISO 3159 and its requirements of timekeeping accuracy of between -4s and +6s per day.
The movement has a 50-hour power reserve and 4Hz frequency.The two versions in steel with either a grey or a blue dial, launched in July, will be joined by a two-tone gold-and-steel model as well as full yellow-gold and full rose-gold versions, and are water resist-ant to 50m.
The steel versions are both R390 000 at louisvuitton.com, LV Sandton City 011 784 9854 or V&A Waterfront 021 405 9700.
• From the September edition of Wanted, 2023.