The latest model to join Louis Vuitton’s Tambour collection is the Street Diver, a sporty watch with a bold splash of colour. The iconic drum-shaped case of the Tambour incorporates a second crown to manipulate the internal bezel with a diving scale and gives the case its compressor-style looks – even though it’s not a true professional dive watch. With its playful, fashion-conscious Louis Vuitton vibe and relatively modest water-resistance rating, it would be a long shot to qualify this as a dive watch. Louis Vuitton envisions the Tambour Street Diver as an urban watch that will get you from the office to the gym in bags of style. Of the three mechanical models presented, we had the Tambour Street Diver Skyline Blue for our photoshoot.
As a brand that built its reputation on travel trunks and has since grown to become a leading French fashion house and luxury goods emporium, not many associate Louis Vuitton with high-end mechanical wristwatches. In 2002, Louis Vuitton launched its first watch collection known as the Tambour. Its distinctive drum-shaped case is now the most recognisable watch design for men and women at Louis Vuitton. Unlike many fashion brands that prize design over substance, Louis Vuitton took the bull by its horns and decided that if it was going to produce watches, they had to be as good on the inside as they were on the outside.
Hamdi Chatti, former vice president of watches and jewellery at LV, was the man in charge of consolidating the brand’s watchmaking adventure and turned to Enrico Barbasini and Michel Navas, two independent watchmakers with a flair for developing complications at their La Fabrique du Temps atelier in Geneva. In 2012, Louis Vuitton acquired La Fabrique du Temps, and several models, including the Tambour Curve Flying Tourbillon (2020), have already achieved the coveted Geneva Seal.
Street Diver Skyline Blue
Viewed from the side, the distinctive Tambour case, which is larger at the base than at the top, looks very much like a drum. Measuring 44mm across, this model’s two-tone stainless steel case displays a polished steel bezel and a dark blue PVD-coated case middle. The 12 letters forming “Louis Vuitton” are engraved around the side of the bezel and filled with blue to match the case and dial. There are two screw-down crowns; the steel one at 3 o’clock is to set the time, and the blue crown with a diver’s silhouette at 1:30h is to manipulate the 15-minute diving bezel on the flange of the dial. To set the scale, which is picked out in sky blue, the letter V (part of the iconic LV monogram) is rotated to align with the colour-matched V at the tip of the minute hands; once they are aligned, they form a figure X. The case is water-resistant to 100m, making it a capable sports watch, but not a true diver.
The thick drum-shaped case means that there is a lot of depth and the plunge from bezel to dial is noticeable. Set below the thick sloping flange with the diving scale and minutes, the dark blue sun-brushed dial is set with chunky round and rectangular indices framed in sky blue and filled with Super-LumiNova. The hour and minute hands are partially skeletonised. The tip of the hours hand is filled with lume, while the all-important minutes hand features a strip of lume down its centre and a sky blue-coloured V-shaped tip. The small seconds counter at 6 o’clock has a silver frame, and its snailed background is traversed by a thick bar placed at an angle.
It is, in fact, an allusion to the diver down or Alpha flag used by a vessel to indicate that there is a diver in the water. Like the rest of the elements on the dial, the small seconds hand is framed in sky blue with a strip of lume in its centre. Although it is not a watch you would even consider taking on your next scuba-diving holiday, it does capture the diving watch aesthetic with its compressor-style case and excellent legibility.
The smoked sapphire glass on the caseback reveals the automatic movement powering the watch. Unfortunately, LV has not been very forthcoming with information regarding the movement. But what we see is undoubtedly an ETA 2895-2 no-date, a small seconds version of the tried-and-tested ETA 2892 – thus a 4Hz movement with 42h power reserve.
The hallmark lugs attached to the case band bend to adapt to the wrist and are fitted with the quick-change strap system. In keeping with the dive mood of the watch, the Tambour Street Diver Skyline Blue comes on a navy blue rubber strap with a light blue logo or a light blue strap with a navy logo.
The Louis Vuitton Tambour Street Diver Skyline Blue retails for USD 7,100. and will soon be available from Louis Vuitton stores and online boutique. More information at louisvuitton.com.