2012 marks the 10th anniversary of the Louis Vuitton Tambour collection. In fact, 10 years ago the Tambour marked LV’s entry into the world of watchmaking. As its name implies the Tambour, or “drum”, watch was originally inspired by the Japanese Kodo drummers and their taiko drums. The Tambour collection for LV is also distinguishable by its 12 letters “Louis Vuitton” engraved on the caseband at each hour, and also (but not always) the use of the color yellow — a nod to the waxed thread used in Louis Vuitton’s iconic handbags.
Over the last ten years there has been a wide range of Tambour references launched by the brand representing a broad array of functions, complications and price points. There have been chronographs and regatta timers, tourbillons and minute repeaters…and unique complications such as the “Spin Time” and the “Mysterieuse”. Without a doubt, the Tambour collection is an interesting one (both mechanically and aesthetically), though it is likely that the brand’s dominant perception as a haute fashion and leather goods house has overshadowed its horological presentations. But this is all about to change, and Louis Vuitton’s standing as a serious watchmaker is about to get much more credible.
Louis Vuitton has taken several steps in recent years to vertically integrate its production capabilities, including recent acquisitions of movement and dial makers. This will all culminate in a new Louis Vuitton manufacture, in Geneva, in 2013. There is no doubt that Louis Vuitton’s horological ambitions are as great as ever. Though assuredly the mark’s presence in the world of fine watchmaking will remain very limited, serving the upper circles of the watch world with an increasingly sophisticated and integrated approach.