Louis Vuitton Tambour Opera Automata
In unveiling the Tambour Opera Automata, Louis Vuitton continues its journey through the exclusive world of high watchmaking timepieces with automata
Inspired by the Sichuan Opera’s Bian Lian, the virtuoso decoration of this specific watch presents a traditional mask that comes to life and changes expression on demand. An artistic performance driven by a virtuoso movement entirely conceived, developed, and assembled by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton.
With the Tambour Opera Automata, Louis Vuitton continues – in Asia – the daring journey it initiated in Europe in 2021 by creating of the Tambour Carpe Diem Automata dedicated to the Vanitas. By choosing to celebrate the Sichuan Opera today, La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton is taking its mastery of contemporary fine watchmaking to the next level. Indeed, this timepiece, which is the subject of several patents, took over two years to develop. As with the Tambour Carpe Diem, the time is only displayed on the dial – by means of a jumping hour and a retrograde minute mechanism – by activating the automaton. This calibre LV 525, totalling 426 components, has a power reserve of 100 hours.
Tambour Opera Automata © Louis Vuitton
As for the automaton mechanism, its five animations create a unique and unforgettable 16-second watchmaking spectacle, driven by this exceptional calibre with jumping hours and retrograde minutes. When the latch is pushed, the engraved pink gold dragon’s head rises to reveal the jumping hours inscribed on the forehead of the cloisonné enamel Bian Lian, while its tail indicates the retrograde minutes. The mask’s expression changes dramatically – its eyebrows frown, its eyelid closes over its left eye, and the pupil of its right eye retracts to reveal a pointed Monogram flower. Going from joy to sadness through the movement of its chin, the Bian Lian mask expresses a wide range of emotions. The beauty of the dial and the lively rhythm of this miniature theatre leave the viewer spellbound.
Tambour Opera Automata © Regis Goley
The excellence of craftsmanship
To root this Tambour Opera Automata in the 21st century, Louis Vuitton has combined traditional Chinese symbols with the brand’s emblematic design elements, such as the canvas pattern and the Monogram flowers enamelled on the dial. Reigning supreme, the imperial dragon, a mythical creature associated with ancient Chinese emperors, represents strength, power and nobility. The fan by its side is a sign of wisdom and authority. As for the clouds, they symbolise good luck, and the gourd in the shape of a calabash is believed to protect people from evil spirits.
As an ultimate refinement, the Asian unlucky number 4 in the time display is replaced by a four-petalled Monogram flower.
Crafted in white, red and black cloisonné enamel separated with white gold threads, the mask owes its flawless workmanship to the master enameller Anita Porchet. The fan is given remarkable depth through the champlevé enamel technique, which involves removing some material from the surface in order to deposit colour pigments. The enamelling of the dial and crown took over seven days to complete.
Tambour Opera Automata © Piotr Stoklosa
Crafted over a period of nearly two weeks by the famous Swiss engraver Dick Steenman, the details engraved in the precious metal give the Tambour Opera Automata an unparalleled level of relief. The pink-gold dragon displays its expressive character in the smallest of details (piercing ruby eyes, engraved and sandblasted scales, etc.). So much so that it appears to literally leap out of the Bian Lian’s mask to reveal, open-mouthed, the time display.
The push button of the automaton depicting a dragon’s head, as well as the winding crown and adorned with a champlevé enamel fan, are entirely hand-made. Finally, pushing sophistication and technicality to the extreme, Louis Vuitton has reproduced the shape of the Chinese mask on the back of the movement, contrasting a shot-blasted finish with a perfect mirror polish, without the slightest flaw.
With the Tambour Opera Automata, Louis Vuitton has amplified the technical complexity of the automaton watch with a bold, powerful and contemporary aesthetic.
Tambour Opera Automata © Regis Goley
Twenty years ago, Louis Vuitton boldly ventured into the world of watchmaking with the unveiling of the Tambour watch. Since, the Maison has dreamt up a growing collection of innovative timepieces driven by unparalleled creativity, savoir-faire, and craftsmanship.Find out more >
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