Louis Vuitton’s Two-Tone Tambour Automatic 40mm Steel & Rose Gold
Remember when Louis Vuitton’s Tambour line was all about loud and bold statement pieces? Well, neither do I… But before we knew it, the luxury line transformed into something that whispers class rather than shouts it. Twenty-one years since the debut of the original model, 2023’s 40mm Tambour marks a rebirth of this collection. Cradled in our hands today is the Tambour Automatic 40mm in steel and rose gold.
From substantial show pieces, the Tambour has gracefully transitioned into a slimmer, more refined drum-shaped silhouette. The latest iteration presents itself with casual elegance and sculptural, fluid lines, promising a new direction of sophistication. This new unisex design is available in five versions. Two steel models landed during the initial launch in July, which we already covered in detail here. The collection then followed up with two gold models and, our focus here, a beautiful bimetal version.
The two-tone aesthetic
Popular in the ’80s, the two-tone style went out of favor as swiftly as discos, grunge, and the mullet. But with the rise of “quiet luxury” these days, it feels timely for a bimetal comeback in the watch world. Why? Because two-tone watches offer a middle ground of flash. Stainless steel is a safe choice, gold is a bold choice, and diamonds are too obvious a choice. Then, there is a two-tone watch sitting in a sweet spot, classy but not screaming for attention.
This steel and rose gold embodiment of the Tambour is a throwback to the old-school charm in a contemporary interpretation. Its 18K rose gold bezel, crown, and polished intermediate links offer a visual contrast to the brushed steel case and bracelet. The watch showcases a fine balancing act between the robustness of stainless steel and the warmth of rose gold.
A wrist-hugging form
Any Tambour watch has its defining characteristics — a round case, the Louis Vuitton name engraved around the bezel, and a form that embraces the wrist. The latest model continues these design codes with a 40mm diameter and a svelte 8.3mm thickness. Its construction is not just for visual impact but also ergonomics, allowing it to hug comfortably against your skin.
Instead of the case back being flat, it has a slightly domed shape to nestle into the wrist. The Tambour’s integrated bracelet — a first for Louis Vuitton — employs links that curve on both the top and bottom, creating a smooth shape without gaps. This design provides not only a snug fit that makes the watch look even thinner but also a tactile feel similar to a soft leather strap.
The dial’s aesthetic is essentially the same as that of the silver dial in the all-steel model. Fittingly, however, this elegant silver-gray iteration is accentuated with rose gold accents. The palette complements the two-tone look perfectly, offering a gorgeous face for the timepiece. The layout offers a small seconds counter at 6 o’clock, along with rose-gold luminescent hour markers and hands. A “Louis Vuitton Paris” signature at 12 o’clock and the iconic “LV” logo on the crown reinforce the brand’s identity.
At the heart of the new Tambour lies Louis Vuitton’s exclusive LFT023 caliber, its first proprietary automatic three-hand movement. It was developed by the house’s wholly owned manufacture La Fabrique du Temps in Geneva, with help from Le Cercle des Horlogers on the manufacturing side. The movement features a high-inertia 22K gold micro-rotor and efficient winding mechanism, providing a 50-hour power reserve and a 28,800vph (4Hz) beat rate.
Modern in its construction, the LFT023 movement is also certified as a chronometer by the Geneva Chronometric Observatory, meeting strict ISO 3159 standards for timekeeping with an accuracy of +6/-4 seconds per day. Its performance demonstrates Louis Vuitton’s commitment to establishing itself as a serious player in high-end watchmaking.
Beyond technicality, the movement is a visual delight in itself, reflecting the watch’s luxury exterior. With a skillful blend of traditional and modern finishes, it features a mainplate with perlage, micro-sandblasted bridges, polished accents, and beveled edges. Distinctive design touches are evident too, such as the barrel cover’s Monogram Flower-inspired cutouts. The use of clear jewels instead of the usual red rubies also adds a contemporary twist to the movement’s appearance.
Price and positioning
Louis Vuitton is making a remarkable shift in its approach to watchmaking. Since 2022, its watch division has been under the new direction of Jean Arnault, the youngest son of LVMH’s chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault. The 25-year-old has made the bold move to eliminate 80% of the existing watch lineup to start afresh. The strategy is set to position Louis Vuitton watches at the highest average price point across all LVMH watch brands.
This reset includes a significant upgrade of the Tambour line. The new-generation models embody the brand’s ambition to create upmarket timepieces with both substance and style. However, that also means an enormous price hike from the previous quartz models. The collection now spans from €19,500 for the steel models to €55,000 for the gold variants. This Tambour Automatic 40mm Steel & Rose Gold is priced at €28,000 to reflect this elevated positioning.
At the start of this article, you may have gathered the Tambour line never quite captured my horological curiosity. It simply wasn’t a style that would stop me in my tracks. Yet, having seen this new automatic in steel and rose gold on the wrist, there is a certain je ne sais quoi that has captivated me. The two-tone execution is tasteful, and the visible mechanics are delightful. While I’m not convinced about the price and the fit for my size, it has nonetheless piqued my interest in Louis Vuitton’s next steps. The brand’s drastic overhaul suggests exciting times ahead in watchmaking, and I’m eager to see what is to come.
For more information, visit the Louis Vuitton official website.
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