CREATIVE IN­DE­PEN­DENCE

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Like Hermes, Louis Vuit­ton had a rel­a­tively late start in lux­ury watch­mak­ing – it launched the Tam­bour, its first “se­ri­ous” me­chan­i­cal watch, in 2003. How­ever, the com­pany has been build­ing horo­log­i­cal cred­i­bil­ity by strate­gi­cally ac­quir­ing watch-man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­nies.

“We want to be the mas­ter of our des­tiny,” says Hamdi Chatti, vice-pres­i­dent of Louis Vuit­ton’s watches and jewellery di­vi­sion. “That way, if we have an idea for a new watch, we can ex­e­cute it quickly.”

To do so, Louis Vuit­ton bought over move­ment­man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany La Fabrique du Temps in 2009. This was fol­lowed by the in­te­gra­tion of Le­man Cad­ran, a high-end dial-mak­ing fac­tory, into its pro­duc­tion set-up in 2011. Chatti says that the com­pany is cur­rently build­ing a new watch­mak­ing fac­tory in Meyrin in Geneva, which will be ready in 2014, to house its core watch­mak­ing di­vi­sions.

Even as Louis Vuit­ton marches to­wards creative and pro­duc­tion au­ton­omy, it has wasted no time in rolling out top-dol­lar time­pieces. The first Tam­bour watch was priced at ap­prox­i­mately 10,000 eu­ros, and was a chrono­graph pow­ered by the LV277 au­to­matic move­ment, de­rived from Zenith’s iconic high-fre­quency El Primero move­ment. (Watch­mak­ing gi­ant Zenith is part of the LVMH con­glom­er­ate that owns Louis Vuit­ton.) Shortly af­ter, the com­pany started a Spe­cial Or­ders ser­vice in 2005 to of­fer per­son­al­i­sa­tion op­tions for its com­pli­ca­tion mod­els.

To­day, Louis Vuit­ton’s top-of-the-line cre­ations in­clude in­trigu­ing com­pli­ca­tions such as the Spin Time, in which ro­tat­ing cubes (or di­a­monds for the women’s ver­sions) dis­play the hours; the Minute Re­peater from two years ago; and this year’s Tam­bour Twin Chrono, a world chrono­graph that can si­mul­ta­ne­ously time two rac­ing com­peti­tors and de­ter­mine the time dif­fer­ence be­tween the two – all via a sin­gle pusher.

For women col­lec­tors, there is the Mono­gram Tour­bil­lon, a rose gold watch with a mother-of-pearl dial, pow­ered by an au­to­matic tour­bil­lon move­ment de­vel­oped in-house by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuit­ton.

“We don’t want to take short­cuts by mak­ing mostly ladies’ quartz time­pieces that are eas­ier to pro­duce. The dif­fi­cult way, which is to es­tab­lish the com­pany’s foun­da­tions in watch­mak­ing prop­erly, takes time and ef­fort. We want watches not only to ap­peal to our cus­tomers, but also to watch col­lec­tors who are not nec­es­sar­ily into the brand,” says Chatti.

Louis Vuit­ton’s Fall/Win­ter 2013 show

The new Tam­bour Mono­gram

women’s range

Louis Vuit­ton Tam­bour Twin Chrono fea­tures a patented bi-chrono­graph with dif­fer­en­tial dis­play con­trolled by a sin­gle pusher

The best leather crafts­men work at Louis Vuit­ton’s leather work­shop, and equally high stan­dards are ex­pected of its watch­mak­ers

Hamdi Chatti, vice-pres­i­dent of Louis Vuit­ton’s watches

and jewellery di­vi­sion

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