Louis Vuitton’s reasserts its haute horlogerie prowess with the Tambour Opera Automata and Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon “Poinçon de Genève”
We have arrived to that time of the year when haute horlogerie enthusiasts and watch collectors are the happiest: It’s the season of watch fairs, launch parties and new releases. Unsurprisingly, there have been quite a few exciting novelties from the watchmaking division of Louis Vuitton. Out of the many unique creations of La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, two designs, in particular, are bound to attract the attention of any gent with an eye for watches: The Tambour Opera Automata and new iterations of the Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon “Poinçon de Genève.”
The Tambour Opera Automata continues the legacy of the daring Tambour Carpe Diem, which won the Audacity Prize at the Grand Prix de l’Horlogerie de Genève in 2021. But instead of further exploring the transience of life, the watchmakers at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton have opted to pay tribute to the dramatic art of Biàn Liăn.
A subgenre of Chinese Sichuan opera, Biàn Liăn—literally “face-changing”—features performers adept in switching between multiple, vividly-colored masks, with each change taking only a fraction of a second. The Tambour Opera Automata celebrates this unique performance art through automaton mechanisms combined with cloisonné enameling and traditional engraving.
The watch’s dial becomes the stage, featuring an enameled mask, a dragon sculpture climbing behind and over the mask, a fan with 10-minute markers and a gourd made of curved glass. When the pusher at 2 o’clock is activated, the scene comes alive. The head of the dragon shifts to show the hour, and its tail slides across the fan to show the minutes. At the same time, the right eye blinks to reveal a Monogram flower while the lid of the eye on the left-hand closes. The jaw also moves in time with the other elements to complete the change in scenery.
As with any proper opera, the talents behind the scenes of the Tambour Opera Automata also deserve the spotlight. The LV 525 Calibre movement and its automata mechanism is the brainchild of master watchmakers Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini. The dragon and gourd, meanwhile, were crafted by Swiss engraver Dick Steenman. Finally, the miniature hand painting and enameling—from the mask to the Monogram flowers on the dial—were done by master enameller Anita Porchet.
A 42mm pink gold case houses these works of art. The crown and pusher are also crafted in pink gold and set with precious stones: a single ruby adorns the crown, while the pusher bears two rubies. The watch fastens to the wrist with a black alligator leather strap, attached with a pink gold buckle adorned by six cabochon-cut rubies.
All in all, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Opera Automata presented an unbeatable combination of audacious design and inspired storytelling, melded into a masterpiece of both haute horlogerie and belle horlogerie.
SEAL OF EXELLENCE
As its name implies, the Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon “Poinçon de Genève” bears the coveted Geneva Seal and features a mechanically-impressive flying tourbillon. The watch’s openworked architecture and almost translucent sapphire case beautifully frame these features. And this year, two new designs are introduced into the collection, one with a fluorescent green case, the other in yellow.
Creating a watch case from a single block of synthetic sapphire is no mean feat. Second only to diamonds in terms of hardness and lacking the malleability of precious metals like gold, it is a genuinely unforgiving material. On the other hand, those same qualities make it exceptional in protecting delicate mechanisms from external stress. Its transparency also makes it perfect for showcasing the internal workings of a watch.
“The Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon “Poinçon de Genève,” however, offers to watch connoisseurs a spectacular view of a Seal of Geneva-worthy movement”
Still, the engineers at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton are now masters at cutting, polishing and cutting cases for the Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon “Poinçon de Genève,” with each case taking up to 420 hours to craft. Furthermore, they have refined the formulas to create the perfect hues of green and yellow to join the collection’s previous lineup of clear, blue and pink sapphire.
The cases draw attention to the openworked architecture of the LV 90 Calibre manually-winded mechanical movement. The centerpiece of the watch is the flying tourbillon, which is nested in a carriage bearing Louis Vuitton’s iconic monogram motif. Above it and slightly towards the left, on the central bridge, sits the Poinçon de Genève.
Only watch movements made and finished— by hand—within the city or canton of Geneva can receive this historical accolade. More importantly, the movement must also pass a series of stringent standards in terms of finishing and decoration. It is perhaps the most intriguing hallmark of quality in high watchmaking as it concerns parts of the movement rarely seen outside watch workshops.
The Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon “Poinçon de Genève,” however, offers to watch connoisseurs a spectacular view of a Seal of Geneva-worthy movement: The openworked design lays bare every detail, the sapphire crystal case floods the movement with brilliant light, and the flying tourbillon performs its perpetual dance with clockwork precision.
Lastly, like its more theatrical sibling, this Tambour is also completed by a black alligator leather strap. With its reflective sheen, the strap helps extend the watch’s fluorescent glow beyond its crystal case.
It is still early in 2023, but already Louis Vuitton is starting strong with, among others, these two dramatic designs. The Tambour Opera Automata demonstrates La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton’s mechanical and artistic craftsmanship mastery. The Tambour Moon Flying Tourbillon “Poinçon de Genève” showcases the brand’s R&D innovation and its commitment to time-honored high watchmaking standards.
Most importantly, both offer the discerning gent a wearable piece of art that can impart a dramatic flavor—either to complement an already electrifying appearance or to add some contrast to even the most formal attire. And that’s Louis Vuitton’s approach to haute horlogerie in a nutshell.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE