Time voyager: Tambour Icons celebrate watchmaking chez Vuitton

From horological creations to a trend-setting connected watch, Louis Vuitton’s Tambour is perhaps the most adaptable watch designs of our times.

Louis Vuitton Icon Tambour Damier Graphite mens watch on model

It is hard to believe that it was only seventeen years ago that Louis Vuitton put its name on the dial of a watch. And even more surprising to think that in this short time, the Tambour has become such a recognisable presence on wrists around the globe. Tambour, which means drum in French, refers to the deep, sloped sides of the case. This generous case shape has housed from simple three-hand models to head-spinning complications such as a minute repeater or a flying tourbillon. 

Thanks to the enduring success of its basic design the Tambour has marched through the years enriching its ranks with a dazzling array of variants including a connected watch that playfully allows you to choose dials from the Louis Vuitton watch range, neatly fusing the past with the present.

Its distinctive case shape and multiple variations all referencing the firm’s rich history have secured the Tambour the status of a house icon.  From all angles, the Tambour is a Vuitton product: the dial, the strap, the case shape and even the sides of the watch are engraved with words Louis Vuitton.

Louis Vuitton Icon Tambour Damier Graphite mens watch
The new Louis Vuitton Tambour Damier Graphite is the largest of the four new Icons range of watches and this men’s model has a diameter of 41.5mm.

Louis Vuitton launches four Tambour ‘Icon’ watches that most thoroughly and totally embrace the spirit of watchmaking at Louis Vuitton. The Tambour Damier Graphite (top) and the Tambour Monogram are the distillation and very essence of Louis Vuitton in a wrist-sized object. The historical Damier and Monogram patterns now travel from the strap right onto the dial for a total Louis Vuitton look. 

Like all Louis Vuitton watches, these Icon Tambour models feature an easy-strap change system allowing you to personalise your look in an instant. Straps come in almost every variation of Vuitton leather and canvas for a dizzying array of choices. 

But first a reminder of the history of these two patterns. Towards the end of the 19th century, thanks to his overwhelming success, Louis Vuitton wanted to set apart his flat-top steamer trunks from competitors so decided to cover his superior luggage in a new canvas of alternating brown and beige squares which he called the Damier canvas; the French for chequerboard.  The pattern earned Louis Vuitton a gold medal at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris but didn’t stop the pesky imitators. So Louis Vuitton’s son and heir Georges Vuitton tackled the problem again with the creation of the iconic Monogram canvas conceived in 1896. It was inspired by the pattern of four-petal flowers on the Gien earthenware tiles in the family kitchen in Asnières on the outskirts of Paris. Little was Georges Vuitton to know that the quatrefoil star and flower shapes and the interlocking initials of the founder LV have become the foundation of Louis Vuitton’s identity.  Read more about the history of Louis Vuitton here.

Louis Vuitton Icon Tambour Monogram watch 39.5 mm
This is the largest version of the three new Icon Tambour Monogram watches. All are made at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton in Geneva and every detail from the canvas pattern to the colours references the French firm’s rich design history. 

Today these hallowed patterns are now on the canvas straps of the new watches but also on the dials. If you look closely at dial, you will see that the texture of the canvas is recreated in engraved steel that is then painstakingly printed to mimic the real thing thanks to the skilled craftsmanship of the dial experts at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton in Geneva. 

What’s more like all Louis Vuitton watches, these Icon Tambour models feature a patented easy-strap change system allowing you to personalise your look in an instant. Straps come in almost every variation of Louis Vuitton leather and canvas for a tantalising offer of choices. 

The Louis Vuitton Tambour Monogram watch, shown here in the larger size brings to the wrist the famous flower and star pattern used on Louis Vuitton luggage since 1896 to stop imitations of the house’s famous steamer trunks.

The Tambour Damier Graphite is the largest of the four new watches with a sizable 41.5mm diameter. Masculine and elegant in a graphite colour scheme that would slip elegantly under the sleeve of a gentleman’s suit or add that finishing touch to laid-back weekend look. The Tambour Monogram comes in three sizes from a cute version suitable for the most petite wrists to a unisex 39.5mm dimension. All four new watches are powered by quartz movements housed in stainless steel cases water resistant to 100 metres.

Although the dial appears to be made of the very same canvas as the strap, the dial is in fact engraved and printed at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton in Geneva, Switzerland. 

As well as the Damier and Monogram patterns, the history of Louis Vuitton is alive and ticking in the yellow on the second hand of the Monogram version, reminiscent of the waxed thread of house's handbags.  With the arrival of these most Louis Vuitton of Tambour watches, it may just be possible that these four models become as coveted as the trunks and handbags from which they were inspired. 


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