Louis Vuitton Opens Watchmaking Headquarters in Geneva

A STEP IN TIME – Louis Vuitton takes yet another huge step into the arena of haute horlogerie with the La Fabrique du temps Louis Vuitton

La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton

When the name “Louis Vuitton” is uttered, it usually conjures up images of the brand’s iconic bags, bold fashion pieces and some very memorable runway shows. and all that began in 1854 with an adventure heavily influenced by the art of travel. In 2002, however, the maison took the first step into a completely different world: watchmaking.

The intricate work that goes into a dial

Settling In

The first watch created by Louis Vuitton was the Tambour. The name, which is french for “drum,” actually refers to the barrel-drum, the cylindrical case that houses the mainspring of a watch. It certainly was a meaningful name, and the world of haute horlogerie quickly took notice of the watch and its distinct design. The Tambour certainly upheld Louis Vuitton’s demanding standards in the house’s quest for the exceptional.

As expected, the Tambour soon grew into a whole collection of timekeepers for both men and women. While simple Tambour models continue to amaze, more complicated designs—featuring everything from GMT
and chronograph functions to tourbillons and minute repeaters—has steadily enabled Louis Vuitton to make a name for itself as an acclaimed watchmaker. The emprise line further solidified this status and was followed by the escale collection, connected watches and high watchmaking timepieces like the Tambour Spin Time models.

As watchmaking becomes an ever-important part of Louis Vuitton, the brand decided to gather its watchmaking talent in one location. So, while Louis Vuitton will always call Paris its home, watches bearing its name will see the light of day in Geneva, Switzerland—arguably the world’s capital of watchmaking. And much like the Tambour, Louis Vuitton’s workshop there will also have a most meaningful name: La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, epitomizing the brand’s spirit as it plays with the “fabric of time.”

The Escale Spin Time Tourbillon watch

Nest of Innovation

La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton is, first and foremost, a space that is conducive to creativity. The workshop itself is an expression of innovation, as its design and architecture brings together master watchmakers, engineers, designers and all the time experts to share the same creative energy. Extra touches like optimal light throughout the
4,000 square meter space turns the venue into a watchmaker’s dream workshop.

Research and development are, of course, a major focus of any watch workshop, and to that end, the master watchmakers of La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton give free rein to all their creative ideas. Perhaps unique among the world’s watchmaker, however, is their pursuit for developing complications linked to travel. This is, after all, yet another extension of Louis Vuitton’s heritage that is deeply rooted in the wonders of travelling.

A good example of Louis Vuitton’s brand of haute horlogerie would be its spin time movement. This playful mechanical contraption uses spinning cubes to show the time. Each cube—placed where the hour indexes are on a
traditional dial—would then show an Arabic numeral when it is their “turn” to indicate the hour. Naturally, this complication can be found as part of the Tambour line, but also pops up in other collections, like the Escale.

There’s also plenty of cases where the talents of the watchmakers in Geneva perfectly mesh with those of Louis Vuitton’s renowned jewelers from the Place Vendôme in Paris. Take the Dentelle de Monogram watch, which features mother-of-pearl skeleton dial capturing the iconic monogram of the house and inspired by the “Voyage dans le Temps” high jewelry collection. The creation of this timepiece meant reducing a natural mother-of-pearl disc to the finest thickness possible before carving the motif. It can certainly be argued that the difficulty of this process is equal to—if not more than—the creation of the most delicate enamel dials.

Assembly of a movement for a Tambour Spin Time watch

A New World

The establishment of La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton and the watches that have and are yet to come from the fabled house shows us what can happen when innovation meets beauty and the passion of travel that has always been at the core of Louis Vuitton. For sure it keeps us ever wondering what will come next from Louis Vuitton’s upcoming travels into the world of haute horlogerie.