The Immortals – Why the jump hour display of the Louis Vuitton Spin Time shook the watch world The Immortals – Why the jump hour display of the Louis Vuitton Spin Time shook the watch world

The Immortals – Why the jump hour display of the Louis Vuitton Spin Time shook the watch world

D.C. Hannay

Watches. They broadly tell the time, but the way in which they do so is where things get interesting. You have your minimalists, which strip things down to the barest of elements: an hour and minute hand. Once you begin to add complications, like a second hand, a chronograph function, day/date apertures, perpetual calendars, and even high complications like the minute repeater, things begin to really heat up, horologically speaking. There are nearly infinite variations on these themes, which is what makes watch collecting such a compelling pursuit.

Louis Vuitton Spin Time

One of the oddest and most interesting complications has to be the jump hour. These outliers typically display the time via a disk that advances at the top of the hour to indicate the current time. But Louis Vuitton changed the game when they released the first iteration of the Spin Time in 2009. The venerated luxury house, known primarily for their logo-emblazoned handbags and high-end luggage, have long been a favourite of the well-heeled and image-conscious, or as I like to say, the Flexerati. And LV could have been easily satisfied by merely splashing their world-famous monogram all over a series of quartz fashion watches like so many other high-ticket brands, but that’s not the case. The Spin Time is LV’s showcase for displaying their bona fide horological chops, a John Coltrane standing out against all the Kenny G’s of their haute couture peers.

Louis Vuitton Spin Time

The Spin Time’s jump hour display is totally unique in the space, utilising a series of twelve revolving cubes as hour markers, each one rotating from a neutral side to one displaying the correct hour as time advances, while a more traditional hand is used for the minutes. The Spin Time was an innovation of the watch design team of Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini, who work under the moniker La Fabrique du Temps, established in 2007 after careers working for some of the biggest names in Swiss watchmaking. Since the creation of the Spin Time, La Fabrique du Temps was acquired by Louis Vuitton in 2011 as their fully in-house watch division. The first Spin Time model was the GMT variant, followed in succession by a visually bold five-minute regatta countdown model, and several highly decorated and jewelled models.

Louis Vuitton Spin Time

Needless to say, the Spin Time shook the watch world with this innovative approach to time-telling, and successive versions continue to enthral fans of the unique and offbeat. There really is nothing out there that looks quite like these in-your-face expressions of horological virtuosity. To me, the Spin Time series is one of the ultimate “just because” watches. Why tell the time using a series of tiny revolving cubes? Why the hell not?

Louis Vuitton Spin Time
Image courtesy of Robb Report

The latest versions include a somewhat monochromatic model that uses marker faces that recall regatta flags, a gold-cased meteorite-dialed model, and the completely bonkers Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum, which lights up the fluorescent-hued yellow cubes via miniscule LEDs, transforming the timepiece into a rave for the wrist. The light show is powered by two batteries, but the movement itself remains a mechanical one. It really must be seen to be believed. In a world of “me too” design, the Spin Time truly is a timepiece that swings for the fences, and the watch world is a better place as a result.