In watchmaking, 20 years is a blink of an eye fixed.
Vacheron Constantin was based in 1755; Rolex has been round since 1905; and this previous April, Audemars Piguet marked 50 years of the Royal Oak, thought of certainly one of its fashionable fashions.
By that measure, Louis Vuitton — a trend model recognized for its journey trunks, purses and ready-to-wear that ventured into watchmaking solely 20 years in the past — remains to be a newcomer. However 20 years is a milestone, and the model is marking it with a limited-edition watch and a brand new advert marketing campaign with loads of star energy.
The Tambour Twenty chronograph was launched final month in a brief promoting video, “Journey Past Time,” shot by the Oscar-winning “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle, and starring Bradley Cooper in his first look as a Louis Vuitton ambassador.
The watch itself, priced at $17,800 and restricted to 200 items, is sort of an identical to the 2002 Tambour mannequin that began Vuitton’s watchmaking journey, besides that it has a red-gold oscillating weight within the again. It’s powered by the LV 277 automated motion, based mostly on Zenith’s El Primero high-frequency chronograph motion, and made in-house by the Vuitton design studio La Fabrique du Temps.
“We selected the unique Tambour case for this anniversary piece as a result of it has turn into a signature of the home,” mentioned Michel Navas, a grasp watchmaker at La Fabrique, the motion design studio that Vuitton purchased in 2011. And “the Zenith El Primero motion was chosen as a result of it’s unmatched amongst precision chronograph calibers.”
(Each Vuitton and Zenith are among the many watch manufacturers owned by the luxurious group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.)
Vuitton doesn’t publish monetary details about its watch division, however LVMH reported a complete income of 36.7 billion euros ($35.7 billion) within the first half of 2022, up 28 % year-over-year, with the watches and jewellery division up 22 % for the interval.
Over the previous 20 years, Vuitton has launched 23 watch designs, and whereas it declines to reveal its annual output, studies have estimated it makes 20,000 items a yr.
A number of of these designs have made it a contender amongst severe watchmakers.
“Louis Vuitton is thought for its creativity and audacity in design, and our 20 years have been properly rewarded,” Jean Arnault, advertising and marketing and growth director for Louis Vuitton watches, mentioned final November when he accepted prizes for the Tambour Avenue Diver Skyline Blue and the Tambour Carpe Diem on the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (G.P.H.G.), an annual trade awards occasion.
It was the Carpe Diem, an automaton wristwatch that includes a cranium with a snake coiled round it, that drew specific consideration. The watch had 426 parts, a snake-shaped pusher at 2 o’clock that activated a 16-second course of to show the time, and included a minute repeater, a retrograde minute and leaping hours. It took two years to develop, Mr. Navas mentioned, and “required tons of of hours by distinctive métiers d’artwork artisans, just like the engraver Dick Steenman and the enameler Anita Porchet.”
The corporate thought of the watch successful — “We proved to our friends simply how far Louis Vuitton can go in haute horlogerie,” Mr. Navas mentioned — nevertheless it has stopped making it so as to deal with new initiatives.
For some within the trade, Vuitton’s acquisition of La Fabrique, based mostly in Meyrin, outdoors Geneva, has been its most important achievement. “Louis Vuitton was not well-known for its watchmaking, however the undisputed popularity of La Fabrique for excellence has put them on the map,” mentioned Nicolas Wiederrecht, co-director of Agenhor, a watchmaking studio in Meryin. “We’re neighbors and opponents, however it’s a constructive competitors, and we’ve large respect for La Fabrique as a result of they create vital creativity to watchmaking,” (Vuitton additionally purchased the dial maker Léman Cadrans in 2012.)
And shifting its watch meeting plant from La Chaux-de-Fonds, in northwestern Switzerland, to Meyrin in 2014 paved the best way for the home’s Flying Tourbillon to acquire the coveted seal of high quality for watches made in Geneva, often known as the “Poinçon de Genève,” two years later.
Together with its mechanical watches, Vuitton has made a smartwatch, the Tambour Horizon, since 2017. Earlier this yr, it launched a 3rd era, the Tambour Horizon Gentle Up, designed to appear to be a conventional timepiece, however powered by the corporate’s proprietary software program. Priced from $3,405 to $4,410, relying on the fabric used for the case and bracelet, it has an always-on show and colourful themes for its customizable face.
What can collectors anticipate within the subsequent 20 years? “We have now proven the world that we’re severe horological gamers,” Mr. Navas mentioned. “We’ll use it to make distinctive watches.”