CHROMA ZONE

We can’t get enough of Louis Vuit­ton’s Es­cale World­time with its pop-tas­tic, hand-painted dial that dis­plays the world’s 24 time zones in jaunty fash­ion.

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - Contents - Words by Aaron De Silva

Hand-painted dial with 24 time zones from Louis Vuit­ton Es­cale World­time.

WHETHER IN POL­I­TICS, business, or fash­ion, ev­ery now and then a shake-up is needed to keep things fresh. Late last year, Louis Vuit­ton did ex­actly that by nam­ing de­signer Ni­cholas Ghesquière as suc­ces­sor to the throne va­cated by long-reign­ing artis­tic di­rec­tor Marc Ja­cobs, who left to float his own la­bel. It was just as well; after his de­par­ture, Vuit­ton’s CEO Michael Burke was quoted in the New York Times as say­ing that Ja­cobs had started to lose fo­cus.

A less pro­found shake-up oc­curred in Vuit­ton’s time­piece di­vi­sion in Basel this year, where the brand un­veiled a star­tlingly re­fresh­ing take on the clas­sic world time com­pli­ca­tion. World­timers tend to be a se­ri­ous-look­ing lot aimed at glo­be­trot­ting ex­ec­u­tives—think di­als em­bel­lished with world maps—so the Es­cale World­time (‘es­cale’ means ‘stopover’ in French) was a wel­come change.

First off, Vuit­ton de­cided to cre­ate an en­tirely new case to ac­com­mo­date the de­vice, rather than in­tro­duce it to its ex­ist­ing Tam­bour lineup. It’s a move that her­alds the start of an en­tirely new col­lec­tion, one that has all the mak­ings of a fu­ture pil­lar. Why? Be­cause the round shape is as time­less as they get. Plus, the lugs are rem­i­nis­cent of the brack­ets found on the cor­ners of Vuit­ton’s trunks—a sub­tle de­sign de­tail that hints at the brand’s legacy with­out be­ing cloy­ing. At 41mm in di­am­e­ter and 9.75mm in height, the Es­cale World­time is sub­stan­tial yet fits dis­creetly un­der a cuff.

The watch’s most strik­ing fea­ture is the pro­fu­sion of colours on its dial—38 to be pre­cise—some­thing rarely seen on world­timers. The vi­brant geo­met­ric pat­terns, which ac­com­pany the names of 24 ci­ties and their re­spec­tive time zones, are cre­ated us­ing minia­ture paint­ing tech­niques, a process that re­quires 50 man-hours per dial. The colours are ap­plied one by one with a paint­brush us­ing tiny, suc­ces­sive strokes be­fore the dial plate is dried in an oven heated to 100°C. The pic­tograms are mo­tifs that Vuit­ton’s clients use to per­son­alise their lug­gage. Again, a nice way of in­cor­po­rat­ing that sig­na­ture el­e­ment of travel.

Closer in­spec­tion will re­veal that the dial is made up of three sep­a­rate ro­tat­ing discs. The out­er­most disc bears the city ini­tials, and can be ad­justed to re­flect the user’s ref­er­ence city, which should be po­si­tioned at 12 o’clock or above the yel­low pointer. This pointer is at­tached to the sap­phire crys­tal so as not to in­ter­fere with the discs’ move­ment. Con­stantly ro­tat­ing but in op­po­site di­rec­tions, the two in­ner discs house the hours and min­utes (in five-minute in­ter­vals), with the for­mer di­vided into black and white zones to in­di­cate the di­vi­sion be­tween day­light and twil­light.

With no hands to speak of, lo­cal time is read off the yel­low pointer, while all other times can be ob­tained by glanc­ing at the cor­re­spond­ing in­dexes. At the cen­tre of the dial, the tri­an­gu­lar mo­tif re­sem­bles an air­port run­way seen from the per­spec­tive of a pi­lot land­ing the plane. It’s quirky touches like this that make the Es­cale World­time so bril­liant. But there’s also se­ri­ous watch­mak­ing go­ing on here, thanks to in­put from the Vuit­ton-owned La Fabrique du Temps man­u­fac­ture, which de­vel­oped and as­sem­bled the au­to­matic LV 106 Cal­i­bre us­ing a in-house mod­ule and an ex­ter­nal base cal­i­bre.

All the ad­just­ments are con­trolled by the sin­gle, three-po­si­tion crown. “The first po­si­tion winds the watch; the sec­ond po­si­tion al­lows the set­ting of the ci­ties; and the third po­si­tion sets the time,” ex­plains Michel Navas, co-founder of La Fabrique du Temps, at a pre­sen­ta­tion in Sin­ga­pore in May. “It’s very sim­ple to use. But that’s our phi­los­o­phy: the more com­pli­cated the watch, the sim­pler it must be.”

Top: Louis Vuit­ton Chro­ma­time Es­cale World­time.

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