The new Louis Vuitton Tambour shines brightest in goldJamie Weiss
When it comes to watches in 2023, nothing screams luxury more than an integrated bracelet. Now, are they particularly practical? No. Are they cool? Definitely. And if watches with integrated bracelets are luxurious, then a gold watch with an integrated bracelet – and a Louis Vuitton logo on the dial – is the height of decadence. Enter the new Louis Vuitton Tambour in gold: an incredibly luxurious proposition that represents not only a high watermark for gold integrated bracelet timepieces but also for Louis Vuitton’s new watchmaking pursuits more broadly.
My colleague Fergus goes into great detail about the design of the new Louis Vuitton Tambour in their hands-on review of the stainless steel models, so I recommend you read that first. The biggest talking point about the new Tambour design is that it represents a marked departure from the exceptionally chunky Tambour designs of the past: it’s still got that recognisable drum-like form, but at 40mm in diameter and only 8.3mm thick, it’s a much slimmer, dressier proposition, comfortably fitting under a cuff with a much less pronounced profile.
Previous Tambour designs (to my eyes, at least) were somewhat – well, maybe not artless, but an acquired taste, especially when imagined in precious metals. The slimmer, more elegant form of the new Tambour is a much more stylish design – but more importantly, it’s nowhere near as heavy, especially when imagined in gold. The new Louis Vuitton Tambour is available in two gold alloys: yellow gold and rose gold, with the former available with a silver dial, and the latter with a chocolate brown dial. More on those dials in a bit.
It’s important when making a watch out of gold – especially a watch with an integrated bracelet – that the bracelet is both well-balanced ergonomically and visually impressive. This is something LV has absolutely nailed with the Tambour’s bracelet: somewhat neo-vintage in appearance, it features wide, flat brushed links that alternate with thin, polished stadium-shaped links, which catch the light brilliantly. The bracelet has a curvaceous, somewhat organic look – it’s a much more considered design than previous metal bracelets available for Tambour models, which featured much bigger, less slinky links.
It’s got an almost lugless look, thanks in part to the clever design of the integrated bracelet, which connects to the watch inside a shoulder on the back of the case. More importantly, this design is extremely ergonomic, which is important when you’re lugging a big hunk of Franco-Swiss gold around on your wrist. A hidden butterfly clasp allows the beautiful design of the bracelet to wrap around one’s wrist in one uninterrupted, luxurious golden bangle. It’s really something.
The dial of the new Louis Vuitton Tambour is also a classy affair and one that’s filled with gold. A somewhat 1930s-esque sector design with alternating brushed and matte surfaces (plus an azuraged small seconds at 6 o’clock), each sector is delineated with polished gold indices and dividers, as well as semi-skeletonised gold alpha hands tipped with lume. It perfectly straddles the boundary between dressiness and sportiness.
While normally I’m a yellow gold sort of guy, I find myself drawn most to the rose gold/chocolate dial model. Not enough watchmakers make brown dials, and the Tambour’s is truly exceptional: the crisp sector dial perfectly complements its almost ganache-like hue. It’s also quintessentially Louis Vuitton: it’s the colour of their leather goods, the foundation of the Maison.
It’s not just the case of the new Tambour that’s received a Midas touch. Its LFT023 movement, a co-creation of Louis Vuitton’s La Fabrique Du Temps and the renowned Le Cercle des Horlogers, features a solid gold micro-rotor engraved with dozens of little LV logos, which stands out against the perlaged steel mainplate of the movement. Here, the use of gold is both aesthetic and functional: gold’s heavier than steel, so it’s commonly used in the creation of micro-rotors, which are widely considered a sign of haute horlogerie.
Interestingly, the LFT023 is based on the CH200.CHSA calibre that powers the Speake-Marin Ripples, another integrated bracelet luxury sports watch – but it’s interesting to see how LV’s gone in such a different direction when it comes to finishing the movement. Where the Speake-Marin features a traditional aesthetic with côtes de Genève and a white gold rotor, the Louis Vuitton’s movement is grained and features a luxe gold rotor. The bridges are even designed to look a bit like an LV logo. It’s an irrefutably beautiful movement, and comes off as a more luxurious offering, both for its horological sophistication and aesthetic brilliance – important when you’re housing it in a gold watch.
Louis Vuitton is a maximalist brand; one that’s a byword for luxury. In many ways, few brands suit gold better than LV… And the new Tambour particularly suits gold well. This is a perfect example of how much a different case material can change the aesthetic of a watch: while the new Tambour in steel is sporty and exudes a sort of ‘quiet luxury’ vibe, the gold Tambour is unabashedly luxurious – yet not OTT. It’s ‘raising its voice’ rather than screaming.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Gold pricing and availability
The new Louis Vuitton Tambour in gold is now available from Louis Vuitton boutiques Australia-wide and online. Price: A$88,000.
|W1YG10 (yellow gold/silver dial)
W1PG10 (rose gold/brown dial)
|40mm (D) x 8.3mm (T)
|18ct yellow or rose gold
|Sapphire with AR coating
|Two-tone silver or chocolate brown
|Gold 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
|Available now from Louis Vuitton Australia