Last year after BaselWorld, I visited Louis Vuitton to see their new collection of watches and I was quite impressed by their high-end collection and absolutely stunned by their new Travel Watch: the ‘Escale Worldtime’. Louis Vuitton stands for traveling and it speaks for it self that the brand had to come up with a great – and different – world timer watch. Well, they did. The presented ‘Escale Worldtime’ is in every aspect completely new and unique: a world timer without hands, where all functions are being controlled over the crown! Reading the time on the watch has absolutely nothing to do with any other world timer that is on the market. At first it isn’t really easy, but after taking the time and effort on how to read it, one gets used to it quickly. The superb looking 41mm white gold case deserves some mentioning too. It’s a new design, that fits in next to the ‘Tambour’ and ‘Speedy’ cases and it has a very classic look.  The lug construction resembles the old round Louis Vuitton trunks. The watch was presented as a limited edition, priced at around €50K Euro.

Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime and Escale Time ZoneAt BaselWorld 2015, Louis Vuitton presented a just as stunning looking and easier to read version of their limited edition Worldtimer, listening to the, a bit confusing, name ‘Escale Time Zone’. This time the case was reduced from 41mm to 39mm and is not made in white gold anymore, but in stainless steel. For a travel watch, the steel makes sense and is in my opinion the far better option, besides the fact that it costs (much) less, it is also lighter to wear. Both watches share the same style case, with the beautiful lug construction, that reminds so much of the Louis Vuitton trunks.

Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime and Escale Time ZoneThe attractive dial of the two models is what gets the most attention; it certainly is something that I had not seen before. The dial of the new ‘Escale Time Zone’ looks at first almost identical to the one of its high-end brother, just a bit less vibrant, but Louis Vuitton did an amazing job with their automatic printing technique, that finishes the dial in a fraction of the time that is needed for the painted dial of the Escale Worldtime, which is completely done by hand and takes up to 6 full working days, to finish. The reading is a bit simplified, since the Escale Time Zone has two hands. Powered by a trusty ETA-2892 based caliber, the ‘Escale Time Zone’ is of course not in the same league as the ‘Escale Worldtime’ that has the, by ‘Manufacture du Temps’ [Louis Vuitton’s own Manufacture] developed automatic Caliber LV106.

Louis Vuitton Escale World Timer and Escale Time Zone

Louis Vuitton delivered again an amazing looking travel watch, now with just a little less functionality than its predecessor, a watch that many guys, including myself, would love to wear. Very affordable and as important, very Louis Vuitton!

But I ask myself how elegant Louis Vuitton’s marketing is in this case, towards their high-end customers, who just paid a huge amount for their limited edition ‘Escale Worldtime’ only to find out that there is a much(!) cheaper version out there with basically the same appearance.

Escale WorldTimer and Escale Time Zone

Let ‘s be honest, with this type of watches, it is all about exclusivity and I would personally not like to see the face of the lawyer who just paid over €50K Euro for his ‘Escale Worldtime’ watch, when his associate shows up in the board meeting, wearing the almost identical €5K Euro version.

Louis Vuitton’s approach is for sure another way of doing marketing for ‘Haute Horlogerie’ watches, but I seriously wonder if this will amuse the buyers of watches from the Louis Vuitton’s ‘La Fabrique du Temps’ collection. When buying an ‘Haute Horlogerie’ timepiece, one also trusts that the brand will keep these watches exclusive, and although the ‘Escale Worldtime’ is more refined with its enamel dial and different movement, these details are hardly enough to set the watch apart from its far more affordable peer.

  • Price Escale Worldtime: around €50.000,- Euro
  • Price Escale Time Zone: around € 5.300,- Euro

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Article written by George Cramer for Fratello Watches. George is expert on Cartier and and has a huge interest in independent watchmaking. He writes for several publications, including Revolution Magazine, Revo-Online and other media. Click here for his portfolio.

George Cramer

George Cramer

While most people know him for his articles about Cartier, he also has a great affection for the independents. These small brands have to think out of the box to get noticed and survive, more often than not,this leads to very exciting and innovative watches. This can probably also be traced back to his education in design and former profession, since he finds the shape and look of a watch very important, while he is at the same time a stickler for details, which often have such a major impact of the watch as a whole, and can make or break the overall impression. When not writing about Cartier or the independents, he likes to travel with his camera, around the globe while capturing the places, faces and of course watches that come across! George's articles have been published in several media, including Revo-Online, Revolution Magazine, Official Hommes etc.
George Cramer
  • Pawel

    Very good observation, and it is exactly what Cartier is doing with their Cle collection – first year they are all in precious metals, but we all know the same are coming in stainless steel. Vacheron Constantin is equally guilty of it – new Harmony pieces are all limited, which is not going to last given it is their new permanent line. Another example is Cartier with their Rotonde – first the white gold version with blue dial, but now the same blue dial is available in steel, making the two almost identical.

    That wouldn’t be the problem if the first version was only in rose gold, and the later ones in steel. However for untrained eyes (99% of people) platinum, white gold, and steel are very hard to distinguish. Lange and Piaget do a good job, in which they only produce in precious metals only, no steel watches. So if you see a silver-colored dial it has to be white gold, or platinum.

    • Geo

      I tend to agree partly with you Pavel. It is common practice since years, for many brands
      to first release a new model in 18K gold and a year later in steel.
      Personally I have nothing against that, when it concerns going from yellow- and pink- gold to a steel version.
      If a watch exists in white gold and it is released later on in steel, it definitely kills the re sale value of the white gold model.
      But we are talking here only about the gold version versus the steel version, the watches itself are in the same category
      of watches.

      In the case of Louis Vuitton we see a model from their Haute Horlogerie line,
      being transferred to a main stream model model, that will be sold in all the Louis Vuitton Stores, around the world.
      While the 10 times more expensive model, is a highly exclusive watch, only available at selected stores.