The Tambour Twenty Celebrates 20 Years Of Horlogerie

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

Twenty years after venturing into watchmaking, Louis Vuitton launches the Tambour Twenty, commemorating the house’s iconic codes and setting the tone for the years to come.

What do you look for in your twenties?

Two decades is baby years in the watch industry, a domain suffused with heritage, tradition, and the kind of craftsmanship that is almost exclusively transmitted from master to apprentice. Yet, in this span of time, Louis Vuitton managed to carve its place in the terrain and into the vaults of even the most discerning collectors.

How does one do this? And where does the horlogerie department fit into the overall Louis Vuitton brand? The answers, one could hope, might be lurking somewhere in the Maison Louis Vuitton, the French house’s boutique on the infamous Place Vendome in central Paris. Floating over the busy shop floor is a space especially designed for the launch of Tambour Twenty. A dark room filled with an array of watches, one model per year, illustrating the evolution and the changing phases of the Tambour.

This archival presentation traces Louis Vuitton’s watch journey, from collaborating with industry experts, finetuning techniques, crafting an identity to slowly acquiring key patents, workshops, and building the Fabrique du Temps in Switzerland. Today, they have a global 360° approach: from design and testing to manufacturing and production, every Louis Vuitton watch is entirely Swiss-made and exclusively distributed within the group’s points of sale.

Imagine a Louis Vuitton dress. Or even a pair of Louis Vuitton boots. Chances are, you have a clear vision of what it is: something slightly nostalgic and retro but also a bit punk-rock and futuristic. This strong aesthetic identity carefully built by Nicolas Ghesquière throughout the years towers like a double-edged sword over their watch department. While there are clear codes that constitutes the Louis Vuitton sartorial alphabet, all comprehensive and readily available, the Fabrique du Temps is a completely independent entity, having free reigns on their own watch designs and fabrications. The challenge is to reach a similar recall, for someone to hear Louis Vuitton watch and immediately conjure a specific image, a certain mood.

To reinterpret the world traveller and nautical soul of the house, Louis Vuitton watches highlight nifty features echoing this spirit of voyage: deep sea visibility and water-resistance, automatic home time setting, smartwatch access to travel plans, boarding passes, reservations, and Louis Vuitton’s iconic City Guides. The French word for drum, the Tambour features a robust and now iconic flared shaped case. It has seen many iterations over the years, but for its 20th anniversary, the Tambour Twenty comes with a deep brown sun-brushed dial and against which a lively citron yellow hand glides over time, a nod to the brand’s signature colorway. With only 200 numbered pieces, this limited edition chronograph comes encased in a miniature Louis Vuitton trunk. The message is clear: here is the Louis Vuitton watch. So far.

It takes careful planning, measured steps, and perhaps some luck to arrive in such a prominent position at an early age of 20. With a strong machinery in place, a rich database of heritage designs, and an innovative approach to traditional watchmaking, the next 20 years of Louis Vuitton horlogerie seem promising. But as always, only time will tell.

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