Jean Arnault tells the story of the new Louis Vuitton TambourFergus Nash
To most people an entry-level watch would be something like a Casio, Seiko, or maybe a Hamilton if you want to go Swiss. However, Louis Vuitton have made a significant declaration that they’re not interested in catering to ‘most people’. Although the Louis Vuitton Tambour range has included some true technical marvels, the air of them being ‘just another fashion watch’ has lingered among some of the more stubborn collectors. The Parisian fashion house are eliminating that misconception once and for all by scrapping all of their ETA-powered affordable ranges in favour of the Louis Vuitton Tambour — a thinner and more elegant execution of the Tambour style.
Proving their commitment to fine watchmaking, approximately 80% of their catalogue has been discontinued in favour of the Tambour W. This brings the average cost of an LV watch way up, and moves their ‘entry-level’ price point up from EUR3,000 to EUR19,500. Although price is never the sole indicator of quality, this is a clear signal from Louis Vuitton that they’re no longer playing in the shallow end. Aside from the buzz and context surrounding this new release, the watch itself really is a step up. The flanged shape of the Tambour case used to make them fairly bulky, but the Louis Vuitton Tambour retains all of the quirky character while standing at only 8.3mm tall. The integrated bracelet is incredibly comfortable and flexible, allowing the smooth 40mm case to cling to the wrist seamlessly.
The dial, available in either deep blue or silvery grey, gives the illusion of a gradient thanks to contrasts in texture between the outer and inner sectors. It’s a great mix of legibility and style that suits daily wear without feeling too ordinary. While La Fabrique Du Temps has manufactured some incredible movements for Louis Vuitton in the past, the new Calibre LFT023 is their first three-hand effort. Of course that doesn’t mean anything’s been phoned in, with a staggering display caseback revealing the high-end finishing across the plates and the gold micro-rotor.
Louis Vuitton Tambour pricing and availability
It’s currently unclear how many Louis Vuitton Tambour watches will be made, however the production will begin slowly with fewer than 1,000 pieces and gradually increase based on demand. Models in gold cases will be announced later in 2023. Price: A$31,000
|40mm (D) x 8.3mm (T)
|Sapphire with AR coating
|Two-tone blue or silver
|Steel bracelet with three-blade folding clasp
|LFT023, by La Fabrique du Temps and Le Cercle des Horlogers, CH200.CHSA base, micro-rotor
|Hours, minutes, small seconds
|Limited production initially