By Rebecca Doulton
Travelling is about timing and crossing different time zones, so it was a natural move for Louis Vuitton to explore the concept within the realm of watchmaking. Indeed, for a company that has forged an empire on luggage and steamer trunks with unpickable Tumbler locks, the subject of travel is always very close to home.
Like everything that is undertaken at the Maison, Louis Vuitton originally entrusted the project to one of the best Swiss watchmaking companies, La Fabrique du Temps. The results were so successful that Louis Vuitton actually bought the company and has been producing winning and highly original designs - such as the Tambour watch - and complicated movements since it undertook its maiden watchmaking voyage in 2002.
This year, Louis Vuitton watches has given music to its Escale Worldtime timepiece, embedding a minute repeater in the movement. One of the most colourful and original watches on the market, it has been designed to indicate world time without using a single hand. The new Escale Worldtime Minute Repeater is a mechanical marvel that chimes the time on demand, anywhere in the world.
The luxurious 44mm rose gold model has a titanium middle case - for enhanced sound quality - and four prominent lugs designed to evoke the corners of the famous trunks. On the left side is a device to activate the minute repeater. Unlike traditional minute repeaters that sound the time displayed by the hands on the dial, the complexity of the movement allows this watch to sound the time of your home town.
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The colourful dial features miniature oil paintings next to the cities chosen to represent world time. Another highly original feature is the no-hands approach to local time readings. In the photograph of the watch, for example, the home city selected is Paris and the time is 10:10am. In order to read the time, a short explanation is in order. Three separate discs decorate the dial: the colourful outer disc with two rings bears the initials of 24 cities worldwide and your home city is positioned beneath the yellow arrow with the crown; the middle disc, in black and white, is in permanent rotation and indicates the hours and whether it is night (black) or day (white); while the smaller central disc displays the rotating minutes.
The Masonic-looking pyramid in the centre of the dial, topped with the yellow arrow indicating your home time, is in fact the only stationary element on the face of this superbly complicated Louis Vuitton watch. Keeping its timing and minute repeater functions in synch is the in-house LV235 mechanical manual winding calibre composed of 447 components, with a formidable power reserve of 100 hours.