Introducing Louis Vuitton’s Take On A Luxury Steel Sports Watch — Here’s The New Tambour
Everybody knows Louis Vuitton, but you probably don’t know the brand for its watchmaking. The first things that come to my mind, at least, are the Parisian brand’s handbags. My wife uses (and abuses) her Neverfull bag every day. You’ve probably seen many of those around you during your commute to work or while sitting at a restaurant. However, what you don’t see very often are Louis Vuitton watches in the wild. But that might be about to change with the introduction of this completely new interpretation of the Louis Vuitton Tambour.
Jorg already mentioned in his article on serious mechanical watches from fashion brands that Louis Vuitton has great horological aspirations. In 2011, the brand bought La Fabrique du Temps, a movement specialist founded by master watchmakers Enrico Barabasini and Michel Navas, who used to provide movements to Jacob & Co, Speake-Marin, and Laurent Ferrier, among others. But now watches like the hand-painted Escale Worldtime, the incredibly bold Tambour Carpe Diem, and the sporty Tambour Street Diver are all made there. Today is a very special day, though, because we see the introduction of Louis Vuitton’s first-ever all-steel sports watch with an in-house-developed movement. Let’s take a look at the newest Tambour.
The revamped and unexpected Tambour
When I browse through Louis Vuitton’s current lineup of timepieces, I don’t get overly excited. Many of the watches, such as the Tambour Street Divers, are quite big at around 44mm, while the smaller watches often have diamonds on them. Overall, they just don’t suit my style, which I would describe as more on the classic and comfortable side. So when I heard that this new Tambour was on its way to the Fratello office for a photo shoot, I wasn’t exactly waiting at the doorstep for its arrival. But when we took these two versions out of the box, I was very happily surprised indeed.
What immediately caught my attention was the all-steel construction of both the case and the integrated bracelet. With its organic shapes, it reminded me a bit of my Cartier Santos Galbée XL, which is one of my favorite watches. That’s not to say that the watches look anything alike. However, with the Santos, I especially appreciate its wonderful combination of sportiness and elegance, and the new Tambour has that going for it as well. All right, before I get all too excited, let me go over the basics first.
A very slender 40mm case
The circularly brushed case of the new Tambour is 40mm wide and only 8.3mm thin. Because of its integrated bracelet, it’s hard to say what the lug-to-lug measurement would be. But when measuring the distance between the tips of the first links protruding from the case, I’d say it’s somewhere around 44mm. Of course, the bracelet doesn’t immediately articulate around the wrist, so it’s a bit longer than that in practice. Anyway, I usually feel like 40mm time-only watches wear a bit large on my 17cm wrist. The new Louis Vuitton Tambour, however, fits me quite well and looks just right.
That also has to do with the fact the case flares out a bit from the bezel to the back. It is indeed 40mm across the case back, but at the sandblasted bezel with polished, relief-engraved letters all around, I measured a width of about 36–37mm. That’s a size I would rather choose for a time-only watch, and that’s exactly why the Tambour works so well on a smaller wrist like mine. Just take a look at the pictures Morgan took of the Tambour on me, and you can see how well the slender case and the integrated bracelet hug my wrist.
The brushed bracelet with polished chamfers and intermediate links starts at 23mm at the case and tapers down to 18mm. The fully concealed butterfly clasp closes with a very firm click and opens simply by pulling each half of the bracelet.
A beautifully finished sector dial
An impressive stepped sector dial complements the case and the integrated bracelet very well. The minute track is a bit elevated, and the polished hour markers have been milled out. The sandblasted hour disc, on the other hand, steps down one level and displays sharply polished numerals and chamfered indices. In the center of the dial, we see a vertically brushed portion, and the seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock has a snailed finish. The tips of the skeletonized hour and minute hands have been filled with Super-LumiNova, just like the numerals.
You can choose between a blue or silver/gray version of the new Tambour. If I were buying one, I think I’d go for the silver variant because all of the facets and levels on the dial make it plenty interesting to look at, even without vivid colors. The blue dial, on the other hand, contrasts nicely with the hands and the numerals and is a very sophisticated shade of blue. At 12 o’clock, you’ll find the Louis Vuitton signature and “Paris” instead of the “Automatique” text that donned the dials of the brand’s mechanical watches before.
A proprietary movement developed by Louis Vuitton
And right below the sub-seconds dial, it now says “Fab. en Suisse” instead of “Swiss Made.” That text refers to many parts of the Tambour but especially to the all-new caliber LFT023. This automatic micro-rotor movement was developed by Louis Vuitton’s Fabrique du Temps and manufactured by Le Cercle des Horlogers. It runs at 28,800vph and offers a power reserve of 50 hours. It’s also certified by the Geneva Observatory to run within the chronometer standards of +6/-4 seconds per day.
Just like the case, bracelet, and dial, the LFT023 is also beautifully finished. Luckily, you can look at it through the large sapphire crystal on the case back. The bridges have been sandblasted and have polished chamfers. The 22K rose gold micro-rotor is engraved with numerous LVs, and even on the side of it, you’ll find inscriptions. You operate this non-hacking movement through the typical Tambour (non-screw-down) crown, which resembles the flaring case shape. The movement winds very smoothly, and setting the time feels punchy and direct.
My, how the Tambour has matured!
With this new Tambour, Louis Vuitton would like to mark the coming of age of the 21-year-old model. Well, I think the designers and watchmakers have done an excellent job in making this watch feel more grown-up. It might look less audacious than LV’s usual offerings, but the sporty and chic design has something unique about it. The watch is also finished very well, and the bracelet feels sturdy. Combine that with an exclusive, accurate, and beautifully finished movement, and you have a winner.
But all of that doesn’t matter if the watch doesn’t feel good on the wrist. Well, that’s certainly nothing to worry about here. You can feel that the designers have put a lot of thought into how the watch should fit the wrist. And as a result, the new Tambour is incredibly comfortable to wear. It almost looks like it shapes itself to the curves of the wrist. This is a feature I love about my Cartier Santos, but the Tambour might do it a little bit better. One thing I would like Louis Vuitton to increase is the 5 ATM water resistance rating. On the other hand, that might also sacrifice its thinness, and I’d rather not mess with that.
Available as of September
So yes, I most certainly feel that Louis Vuitton is adding something very alluring to its watch collection with this new Tambour. I might have to start saving up, though, because a luxury watch from a luxury brand also comes carries a luxury price, of course. The new Louis Vuitton Tambour will be available as of September 2023 for €19,500. For more information, please visit the official Louis Vuitton website. We published a video review on the new Louis Vuitton Tambour here.
Let me know what you think of Louis Vuitton’s new Tambour in the comments below.
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