IN-DEPTH: The Louis Vuitton Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon IN-DEPTH: The Louis Vuitton Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon

IN-DEPTH: The Louis Vuitton Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon

Fergus Nash

The average person thinking of Louis Vuitton will have a lot of inspiration from which to draw their impressions. Between the $4000 handbags, $700 T-shirts, and even $1000 bucket hats, the image that Louis Vuitton paints is a surprisingly broad spectrum of wealth across high-fashion and streetwear. Leather goods, fragrances, clothing and eyewear are just some of the avenues where the Parisian brand have a firm identity, but what of their timepieces?

Many watch collectors dismiss any and all fashion brands that produce watches based on a decades-old trope of brands taking a $10 watch, printing their logo on the dial, and selling it for $200. But, as we approach 2022, the market for hyper-luxury watches has only grown larger, and one only needs to look at the list of brands under the LVMH umbrella to see that Louis Vuitton take haute-horology seriously. The Louis Vuitton Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon has definitely been eclipsed this year by the Tambour Carpe Diem as a showpiece, but it deserves to be looked at as its own travelling luxury spectacle.

The case of the Louis Vuitton Tambour series has been described as an extruded Mobius strip, but seeing as the case does actually exist within only three dimensions, it’s much more akin to a subtly flared drum shape, given that ‘tambour’ is the French word for drum. At 46mm wide, it’s definitely not a watch for a shy person, but we’re not going to pretend that ease of wearability is a priority for a watch like this. The Tambour case architecture exists across a huge range of Louis Vuitton’s watches now, from street-divers to complicated novelties, but the Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon has more than just an air of UFO about it. The slick, dark titanium cases are reminiscent of flying saucers, with the semi-detached lug design looking like outstretched landing gear upon the wrist.

Continuing the sci-fi themes, Louis Vuitton’s contemporary stylings are a huge departure from some of their more classical approaches. You won’t find the Monogram Flowers on this watch. Instead, we see a plain black dial that is semi-skeletonised in an interesting pattern, with a Venetian blind effect on the top and bottom thirds and a stylised hourglass in the centre revealing a spectacular sub-layer in contrasting material. For the two first references, the all-titanium model has a lightly shimmering grey sunburst layer, while the two-tone charcoal and 18k gold model uses a brushed gold layer to similar effect. The third available reference is even more unique, utilising a slice of meteorite from Namibia for an even more industrial and space-age appearance. Although the meteorite reference is by far the most luxurious of the three, with baguette-cut diamonds used for the hour markers, the other two are just a hint more practical. The white hour markers are actually solid blocks of Super-LumiNova, so you know that they should shine like beacons into the night.

The symmetry of the dial is fairly pleasing in the subdials too, with the titular flying tourbillon of course displaying a V for Vuitton, and the LV logo forming the 24h subdial for the GMT complication. The touches of yellow in the GMT markings and text is also a nice touch, offsetting the metallic tones that would otherwise dominate the watches.

The Louis Vuitton Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon is another production of La Fabrique du Temps, the high-end movement manufacture that LVMH acquired in order to make Louis Vuitton a true in-house watchmaker. It’s powered by the LV 82 calibre, with a 65-hour power reserve running at 28,800 vibrations per hour, which is quite a high beat rate for a flying tourbillon. The tourbillon cage offers a great view into the escapement from the front of the watch, which is a definite plus, as the sapphire display caseback doesn’t actually give much insight into the movement. The pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock make the GMT complication a breeze to use, simply letting you adjust the 24h hand backwards or forwards in single hour increments.

Louis Vuitton will probably never win over those people who see all fashion brands as pretenders, but all they need to do is produce watches like the Tambour Curve GMT Flying Tourbillon as proof of their watchmaking mettle. The retail prices begin at $79,000USD for the titanium model, jumping up to $91,000 and $103,000 for the pink gold and meteorite models. You’re definitely not going to see as many of these in a city’s shopping district as you would LV handbags, but I’m sure that they’ll find a home on the wrists of the brand’s most loyal followers.