Louis Vuitton’s Tambour collection has come a long way. Introduced in 2002 as a stylish ticker proudly bearing the house’s iconic logo, it has evolved into a technical and aesthetic tour de force. In the last 20 years, the Tambour’s silhouette — drum-shaped case, octagonal crown and the 12 letters of the brand’s name engraved into the case side — has largely remained unchanged. The complications, however, are a different story, drastically evolving through the decades.
There have been chronographs, minute repeaters, world timers, tourbillons, multiple iterations of the Spin Time (its own modern version of a jumping hour mechanism), and even a jacquemart. The list isn’t comprehensive, but it does illustrate Louis Vuitton’s commitment to developing and mastering its watchmaking savoir faire.
This year, the maison continues to march to the beat of its own drum with two spectacular timepieces that offer unique portrayals of time. Tambour Spin-Time Air Quantum is the latest interpretation of its Spin-Time mechanism that premiered in 2009.
Its most celebrated timekeeping icon, Spin-Time is an original, unconventional take on the traditional jumping hour complication. The hours are represented by 12 cubes that each make a quarter revolution twice a day. When the minute hand passes the 12 o’clock position, the cube corresponding to the correct hour spins to indicate the time. Driving this animation is a Maltese cross gear placed perpendicularly underneath that reliably converts a continuous motion into intermittent rotary movements.
With the Spin-Time Air Quantum, Louis Vuitton has added another exciting feature to highlight its distinctive timekeeping — lights. Specifically, a ring of 12 tiny light-emitting diodes (LED) that illuminate the hour cubes on demand via a pusher incorporated into the crown. These LEDs are positioned directly on the top face of each cube and project a well-defined beam of light that lasts for as long as the button is depressed, and a further three seconds after it is released.
The hour cubes, made from fused silica, ensure optimal and homogenised light diffusion. The non-crystalline, colourless silica glass is typically used in photonic applications because of its outstanding thermal properties and excellent optical transmission. Louis Vuitton is not the first watchmaker to combine a mechanical watch with a light module, but it is the first to provide one with a vivid, lasting luminescence.
Two discreetly placed batteries power the watch and keep it illuminated for three years when it is activated six to seven times a day. An indicator at the base of the crown flickers when the batteries need to be replaced. This is easily accomplished without tampering with the electronic or mechanical sections of the movement.
Presented in a 42.5mm DLC-finished titanium case, the watch is powered by the proprietary LV 68 selfwinding calibre developed by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton.
In the new Tambour Slim Vivienne Jumping Hours, all eyes are on Vivienne, the cute and charming mascot Louis Vuitton introduced to the world in 2017. At times a toy, accessory or pendant, she entered the brand’s watchmaking universe in 2021 and is the star of this year’s new whimsical creations. Three different versions of the watch are offered, depicting Vivienne as a fortune teller, casino croupier, or circus juggler in a different coloured gold.
In the pink gold model, a dark blue aventurine dial serves as a fitting backdrop for Vivienne the fortune teller as she offers a glimpse into the future with her deck of auspicious tarot cards. As a casino croupier, she deals a winning hand in the yellow gold model. The dial is made of an unusual hard stone called skarn, which mimics the green felt that covers casino tables, and is adorned with diamond-set poker chips and cards. Finally, the white gold variant, set with a shimmering mother-of-pearl dial, shows Vivienne juggling pink balls decorated with Louis Vuitton’s stylised floral motifs.
All three watches have two apertures that serve as alternating jumping hour indications showing the hours and a slim, transparent hand indicating the minutes. Combined with a complex multilevel cam and a sprung ruby roller, the Maltese cross drives the innovative mechanism. In comparison to the conventional system of star wheels and jumper springs, this approach is more energy-efficient, resulting in optimal display precision.
Each dial is also a canvas for the different watchmaking métiers d’art the brand has mastered, from miniature painting and gem-setting to glyptic art. In 38mm gold cases, they are driven by the LV 180 calibre, a self-winding movement with a double aperture jumping hour complication created and built by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton.