Not all of you might know that, in addition to its core collection mostly made of Tambour watches, such as the recently introduced Tambour Street Diver, LV also owns the right to be called a high-end watch manufacture, thanks to its integrated structure La Fabrique du Temps. With it, the luxury giant and maker of all kinds of high-end goods can produce fine and complex in-house movements, such as the Tambour Spin Time Air and its floating display. Now, the watchmaking division of LV, which has recently hired Jean Arnault, the youngest son of LVMH’s owner Bernard Arnault, is presenting a bold and (literally) luminous watch that might give an idea of where it’s heading. Let’s discover the new Louis Vuitton Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum.
Watches certainly aren’t the core business of Louis Vuitton. Neither they are a point of entry to the brand. Yet, the brand has long worked on making traditional luxury watches – mostly under the Tambour collection, which will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary – but also has devoted great efforts to create a rather impressive expertise in haute horlogerie, thanks to the integration of La Fabrique du Temps, a renowned movement maker in Geneva directed by the talented Michel Navas – a specialist of minute repeaters and complex displays. What makes Vuitton special in this industry is that they look at design with different eyes, and the watchmaking division is surprisingly quite autonomous and doesn’t have many constraints. Which has led in the past to bold and original creations. And the new Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum is another demonstration of what the brand trying to achieve.
This new take on the Tambour is bold, exclusive, quite polarizing and certainly not meant for traditional collectors. Good point, Louis Vuitton watches is not trying to compete here against the established names, where the battle would have been difficult. Instead, LV wants to reach a new audience, not necessarily attracted to traditional watches. Like it or not, it might be a clever way to expand the division’s awareness. The fact that the watches are only sold through selected LV points of sale is another one.
Back to the topic of the day, this highly luminous watch. The whole concept of this Quantum edition was to elevate the idea behind the (not so) classic Louis Vuitton Tambour Spin Time Air and to bring a different light on it… And some will tell you that it’s a hybrid watch, which is true in a way, but the entire display is powered by pretty clever mechanics produced in Geneva, by Navas and his teams. The concept of illuminating the display of a watch to make it stand even more isn’t new, as we’ve seen such integration already with HYT or De Bethune. But where these two were using a mechanical dynamo to bring power to the light system, the Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum relies on batteries, so the whole experience remains fun and simple, and a simple battery service is required when the system is out of energy (with 10 activations a day, the brand announces a 3-year battery life). Be safe, the watch itself is very mechanical still.
The Quantum edition is housed in a classic Tambour case, the brand’s most emblematic watch design, made of black DLC-coated titanium with a matte finish. Some polished accents are used on the periphery of the crystal or on the lugs, to bring a more dynamic feel to this otherwise minimalist case. The case is engraved with the 12 letters of Louis Vuitton on the side. It measures 42.5mm in diameter and 12.3mm in height, yet the watch sits comfortably on the wrist thanks to the nice integration of the strap between the lugs. A few elements of the case, such as the use of Super-Luminova around the crystal or several neon-green accents, bring contrast and fun to the look.
In daylight conditions, the watch is already standing out with its original display of the time. Starting from the middle of the dial, you’ll find a central container that encapsulates the miniaturized movement, which displays the minutes on top a bit like a regulator. On its periphery comes the truly interesting part of the Tambour Spin Time Air, the 12 floating cubes to display the hours. Attached by a small arm to the movement, they are rotating on their own axis to indicate the current hour. A rather complex series of Maltese crosses allows them to rotate so the cubes change face, moving from light green to black so the current hour is easily picked up.
Until now, no difference between the Quantum and classic editions of the Louis Vuitton Tambour Spin Time Air. What’s new in this version is the addition of a light-emitting system to illuminate the cubes at night. Pressing the crown shines the light on the fused silica cubes, thanks to 12 LED lamps. While this system would have certainly been rejected by most mainstream brands due to its hybrid nature, LV isn’t really constrained by such matters and can bring fun and boldness with different technologies. Like it or not (and rightfully so) but the whole concept in action is actually quite cool… In addition, all the neon-green elements are covered in SLN, meaning that in combination with the light system, the whole watch really glows at night.
Powering the Louis Vuitton Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum is the calibre LV 88, an in-house automatic movement that has been developed specifically for this display. The movement is compact and needs to send power to a complex display, explaining its rather short power reserve of 35 hours. It’s entirely encapsulated inside the central container and the back is equally closed, due to the presence of the batteries.
The Louis Vuitton Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum is a polarizing watch, but also a clever move to differentiate the brand in a market that is mostly under the control of the industry heavyweights. The target here might not be the traditional watch collectors, and the execution really proves this. The watch is a limited edition of 100 pieces, sold exclusively through LV’s own distribution channel. It is priced at USD 93,000. More details at www.louisvuitton.com.