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Welcome to the New Era: The Louis Vuitton Tambour 2023

Welcome to the New Era: The Louis Vuitton Tambour 2023


As the Tambour watch reaches its 21st birthday, Louis Vuitton is honouring its most important model with a successor – and what a successor it is. The goal is clear: to move up into the highest class of watchmaking. Will it succeed? How good really is the new Louis Vuitton Tambour? And will Louis Vuitton watches now be more interesting for top collectors? Swisswatches took a look at the new Tambour at its launch in Paris, and is here to share the most important details. One thing becomes clear at first glance: even those who are not fans of this brand, which is still considered young in the long-established watch sector, have to acknowledge that the utmost attention has been paid to every detail that watch aficionados hold dear.

“We wanted to keep everything about this watch and at the same time raise it to a completely new level – to absolute perfection” – Jean Arnault

With its drum-shaped case faithfully housing numerous interpretations, from classic chronographs to haute horlogerie works of art, the Tambour has faithfully played host to many of Louis Vuitton’s accomplished creations. Now, the La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, flourishing under the care of master watchmakers Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini, is signalling the start of a new era with the launch of a reimagined Tambour, designed to accompany the brand into the future. These new Tambour models are destined to replace no less than 80 percent of the brand’s current entry level watches, indicating their vital role in the years to come. Let’s take a look.

The dial

Pragmatic yet aesthetic decoration: Perfection lies in the detail

What we are seeing in the 2023 Tambour is a new, sleeker version of its predecessors: and this all starts with the dial. Although the dial measures a mere millimetre in height, it nevertheless conveys beautiful depth thanks to a thoughtful design and well-executed finishing. The centre of the dial is brushed, creating a clean and contemporary aesthetic, while the snailed finishing on the small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock adds a sporty touch. The manufacture’s designers build upon this modern look with two sandblasted rings for the hour markers and minute track – perfectly signalling this watch’s role as a state-of-the-art reimagination of the iconic, brand-defining Tambour. As of now, two dial colours are available: grey (Ref. W1ST10) or blue (Ref. W1ST20).

Designed for everyday use – Highly legible with a timeless design

Notably, the combination of Arabic numeral and baton hour markers serves to provide plenty of space on the dial of this novelty, while SuperLumi-Nova provides the wearer with legibility round the clock. Likewise, the decision to add pronounced five minute markers at 12, 2, 4, 8, and 10 o’clock makes for easy orientation and very quick reading of the time. Likewise, opting for new open-worked hands on the watch successfully adds yet more space to the 2023 Tambour’s crisp new dial.

Case and bracelet

A universal design – but more refined than ever

Fortunately for the faithful fans of the iconic timepiece, the 2023 version is still unmistakably a Tambour. Naturally, the model still features the words ‘LOUIS VUITTON’ around the outer bezel of the steel case and maintains the famous drum-like shape. Yet the timepiece has undoubtedly been refined, with its case, now measuring only 8.3 mm in height, designed to follow the line of any wrist. That said, the caseback is not flat, but ascends in an arc towards the centre, fitting the natural curve of the forearm as it approaches the wrist.

As with the dial, finishing is of the utmost importance on the new Louis Vuitton Tambour. Therefore, La Fabrique du Temps opt for a sandblasted outer bezel, predominantly brushed surfaces across the case, and a contemporary polished crown boasting the brand’s world-famous logo. A final note on the new-and-improved case: the sports watch provides ample water-resistance to 50 m.

Stay close: The new bracelet

Many collectors know this, yet only a few manufacturers take it to heart: to create a watch that is liked by many and worn frequently, the bracelet and its quality often prove decisive. In a move to create a piece that works for everyone, the manufacture is bestowing the Tambour with a completely new bracelet. Furthermore, the lugs have been removed entirely. The integrated bracelet on this sporty timepiece uses curved links; convex on their upper surfaces and convex on the underside. This forms a rounded profile that maintains a continuous line of touch with the wearer’s entire wrist. Having tried it out, we can confirm that in terms of comfort and wearability, this watch is second to none. The bracelet secures to the wrist using an invisible triple-blade folding buckle, only slightly visible to the wearer thanks to the engraved LOUIS VUITTON on the end link.

The calibre

A visual spectacle: The highlights

The 2023 Tambour model’s movement, the calibre LFT023, is a real talking point. Not only is it an absolute stunner, but also, it is de facto the first self-developed three-hand automatic movement, completely developed and designed around the team of Michael Navas and Enrico Barbarsini. Finely decorated and bestowed with 31 transparent jewels, wearers can admire the new calibre via the sapphire crystal caseback. The shining star of the calibre is the decorated micro-rotor, glowing in 22-carat gold and stylised in a repeating ‘LV’ motif. The perlage of the bridges and the polissage and finish of the edges are wonderful examples of a deep understanding of watch history and what matters to collectors. La Fabrique du Temps will apply this special new standard of finishing to all of its future watches, whether supposedly entry level or haute horlogerie.

Accompanying the striking micro-rotor is an open-worked barrel cover evoking the brand’s monogram flower. Meanwhile, other decoration includes micro-sandblasted bridges, polished edges, and chamfers that match perfectly to the overall aesthetic of the watch. For a more traditional touch, the movement also showcases a circular-grained mainplate. Interestingly, La Fabrique du Temps will use the standard of decoration on this brand new movement as a kind of blueprint to apply to all of its future watches, whether entry level or haute horlogerie.

A functional calibre for a functional watch

Moving onto the facts and figures, the automatic movement measures a nicely compact 4.2 mm in height. Providing hours, minutes, and small seconds, the calibre offers 50 hours of power reserve while its balance wheel works with frequency of 4 Hz. A chronometer certified by the Geneva Chronometric Observatory, the new Tambour 2023 complies with its exacting criteria for timekeeping, keeping an accuracy of between -4s and +6s per day. The calibre LFT023 was created in conjunction with the Swiss movement specialists Le Cercle des Horlogers.

Price and availability

Last but not least, as Director of Marketing and Development for Watches at Louis Vuitton, Jean Arnault, imparted exclusively to Swisswatches: these new 2023 Tambour models will by no means be easy to get hold of. In order to ensure that consistently high quality watches emerge from the manufacture, La Fabrique du Temps plans to manufacture fewer than one thousand pieces of the new Tambour each year. Those undeterred (as the saying goes, try and fail but never fail to try!), can purchase these milestone Louis Vuitton Tambour timepieces for 19,500 euros. It’s a somewhat steep price for a stainless steel three-hand watch – but coming first has always cost a little more in life.

BRAND Louis Vuitton
MODEL Tambour
Tambour W1ST20
CASE MATERIAL Stainless steel
DIMENSIONS Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 8.3 mm
WATER RESISTANCE 50 m (~5 bar)
DIAL Grey or blue
STRAP/BRACELET Steel bracelet with invisible triple-folding clasp
FREQUENCY 4 Hz (28,800 vph)
FUNCTIONS Hours, minutes, small seconds
PRICE 19,500 EUR