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The Millennium Watch Book
Louis Vuitton - Tambour Street Diver : Parisian Luxury's High-Scoring Dive

Louis Vuitton Tambour Street Diver : Parisian Luxury's High-Scoring Dive

Discover this exclusive extract from the Millenium Watch Book. Underwater drum roll, please: Louis Vuitton, an icon of French fashion and luxury, has come up with a stylish new take on dive watch etiquette

Louis Vuitton's Adventures in Watchmaking 

Louis Vuitton decided to break into fine watchmaking in 2002. As it turned out, that was quite a feat: a few years on, less than a handful of the big names in fashion have succeeded in carving out a niche in timekeeping: Hermès, Chanel — and the legendary luggage maker. One of the secrets of this success has been the brand’s wholehearted quest for horological legitimacy. For its Swiss Made watches, Louis Vuitton uses tried and tested mechanical movements made by ETA, Dubois Dépraz, Jaquet or Zenith (a LVMH group sister company since 2000). Besides, the brand’s Tambour collection gave it a way of building a meaningful bridge between its own world and that of watchmaking: the word tambour is French for ‘drum’, not only echoing the shape of the case in question, but also bringing to mind the musical instrument — and the mainspring component of the same name that’s used in clocks.

In the early 2010s, Louis Vuitton acquired La Fabrique du Temps, a fine watchmaking workshop founded by two talented master watchmakers, Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini. Ever since, the brand has benefited from all the creativity of this duo, in particular their stunningly original displays. In 2016, the Tambour Moon was honoured with the exclusive Poinçon de Genève hallmark. And in 2021, the Tambour Carpe Diem won the Audacity Prize for daring design in the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève contest.

Tambour Street Diver : Parisian Luxury's High-Scoring Dive

Tambour Street Diver © Louis Vuitton

Designing an LV Dive Watch

Perhaps through a natural sense of affinity, Louis Vuitton drew inspiration notably from the worlds of travel and regattas; after all, diving is essentially ‘vertical’ exploration. The brand took the plunge for the first time in 2005. The Tambour Diver borrowed heavily from the style of the watches of the 1960s and 70s. The rotating bezel, designed to measure dive times, was fitted beneath the sapphire crystal. This unusual choice made it more difficult to adjust (requiring the use of a crown), so it was somewhat frownedupon by hardcore divers, but it had the advantage of preserving the aesthetics of the case. The steel watch features a brown flange with yellow highlights — shades that echo the brand’s leather and stitching. The timepiece’s offspring, the 2010 Tambour Diving II, featured an improved display with circular hour-markers and slimmer, hollowed-out hands, while the adoption of a traditional external rotating bezel gave the piece a more conventional air. 

Style transceding Function

Louis Vuitton’s 2021 edition of the Tambour, the Street Diver, brought together the best of both its previous dive watches. This is the Tambour in which the ocean deeps go street-level, designed for urban wear just as much as for extreme diving. The functions and markings are still those of a dive watch, and not too far removed from ISO 6425 standard requirements, with the disappearance of the date window improving readability — a characteristic that’s further enhanced by the baton-shaped quarter-hour markers coated with white Super-LumiNova, highlighting key display components. The small seconds dial has become circular once again, and now features the characteristic diagonal bar of the ‘diver down’ flag.

Tambour Street Diver : Parisian Luxury's High-Scoring Dive

Tambour Street Diver © Louis Vuitton

In deference to the style requirements for smooth, continuous lines, the Tambour Street Diver has reincorporated the original twist of having the rotating bezel located beneath the crystal. This is adjusted via a screw-down crown located between 1 and 2 o’clock. To monitor dive times, the V marking on the bezel must be aligned with the minutes hand at the start of the descent. In a literal signature touch, the outer rim of the steel bezel is decorated with the letters L-O-U-I-S-V-U-I-T-T-O-N. A sapphire crystal caseback reveals the mechanical movement for further viewing pleasure. This comes at the expense of water resistance being reduced to 100 metres, as while this remains quite respectable, the Diving and the Diving II were rated to 300m. And of course divers would rather be seen dead than wear one without its accompanying moulded rubber strap, also featuring the 12 letters of the Louis Vuitton name in relief. Inside the watch, a sturdy Swiss ETA calibre provides the mechanical beats required to power the timepiece. In short, there’s everything one might ask for to be able to wear the legendary brand in style on chic terraces — and during recreational dives.

This year GMT Magazine and WorldTempus have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the divers watch since 2000 in The Millennium Watch Book - Divers watch, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book - Divers watch is available in both French and English here:

 

 

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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.

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