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For the LV of it: breaking down the new Louis Vuitton Tambour

'Thinness is the new rule, with the case specifically designed for ergonomic reasons'

Jean Arnault, the youngest son of Bernard Arnault (the wealthiest man on earth, on and off) has seemingly been everywhere of late. Although the notion of putting your kids in charge of the big-brand players within the LVMH conglomerate might have one thinking of nepotism, I have been told countless times, by those close to the family, that the pressure that comes down on the children is far greater and heavier than that placed on other employees.

Jean might only be 25, but he has already seen Louis Vuitton’s watchmaking division explode wonderfully. At the end of the day, he is a passionate collector who spends a lot of time interacting with the community and has a genuine passion for watches. So, when he announced the revamped Tambour, the watch world sat up.

Crown of the Louis Vuitton Tambour Automatic 40mm Steel watch on a black back drop

The Louis Vuitton Tambour was actually first released in 2002, but, because the luxury label has struggled to shake off its leather-bag reputation, many don’t realise the fact it’s over two-decades old – but it is, and it has come to define the foundation of LV’s watch designs.

Make no mistake about it, the new Tambour has its sights set on the integrated-bracelet sports watch market. To start, you have a 40mm case that features a svelte 8.3mm thickness. Though the model has long been known for its drum case shape, which includes its rotund depth, that definition is no more when it comes to the latest iteration. Instead, thinness is the new rule, with the case specifically designed for ergonomic reasons, meaning that the underside isn’t completely flat. It is currently time-only, something that I celebrate; less is always more. Additionally, the most controversial design touch will, with little doubt, be the brand print on the case, on the sloped portions of the bezel – a nod to Tambour heritage – as it won’t be for everyone.

Crown and watch face of the Louis Vuitton Tambour Automatic 40mm Steel watch on a black back drop
Mechanics and back of the Louis Vuitton Tambour Automatic 40mm Steel watch on a black back drop

On the dial side, it has depth and layering, a look that stands out in the current sports watch category. There are sectors moving inward, creating an array of circular enclosures, including the small seconds display. The applied Arabic numerals appear to utilise a similar typographical style to that of the existing Tambour, but they’re made more impactful with the raised application and lumed interior.

The bracelet has been completely reworked, combining brushed and polished finishes. Its seamless affixture to the case is not too dissimilar to how the Apple Watch attaches to its bracelets. And, maybe having that familiarity is by design.

Within this watch beats the LFT023, a micro-rotor, chronometer-certified calibre. In other words, top-notch stuff (the micro-rotor has been used to reduce the thickness of the overall case).

The Louis Vuitton Tambour, in steel, is priced just shy of $20,000. That puts it in the same ball park as the Laureato, Octo Finissimo and Chopard Alpine Eagle. Good company if you ask me.

Want more watch content? Read about CODE41’s new creation, which modifies the brand’s record-breaking timepiece…

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