At the turn of the millennium, Louis Vuitton was a luxury fashion brand with virtually no connection to the world of watchmaking. That changed in 2002 with the introduction of the Tambour, an automatic GMT housed in a 39.5mm round stainless steel case, instantly recognizable by its drum-like appearance (like the Japanese taiko drums that inspired it).
Production of the Tambour coincided with the opening of a Louis Vuitton workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds, in the heart of the Swiss watchmaking region, signaling that the brand was serious about its ambitions.
Now the 20e anniversary of this timepiece, Louis Vuitton presented the Drum Twentya redux version of the original with the same drum-shaped case in a slightly larger 41.5mm stainless steel case, 12 letters spelling out the name “Louis Vuitton” on the numerals and hour markers, and a high-frequency movement LV277 based on the El Primero, the first famous automatic chronograph produced by Zenith, Louis Vuitton’s sister brand in the LVMH stable.
“Watch enthusiasts will recognize all of the characteristics that have made the design of the Tambour so unique,” said Jean Arnault, marketing and development director for Louis Vuitton watches, in a press release. “If this limited edition is a real concentrate of everything that made this watch special, it also offers brand new features that will differentiate it from collectors. For me, in addition to celebrating our anniversary, this watch also paves the way for many future decades of fine watchmaking, remaining true to Louis Vuitton’s values of creativity, craftsmanship and excellence.
With its sunbrushed brown dial and long yellow chronograph runners, evoking the yellow threads historically used in Louis Vuitton leather goods, the Tambour Twenty brings the iconic watch back to where it all began. But oh, what a trip it has been.
Produced in 23 iterations, one for each year of existence of the model (and two for 2021 and 2022), the Tambour has lived dozens of horological lives. It has been a chronograph, a tourbillon, a diver’s watch, a sailing watch, a jumping hour watch, a mystery movement, a minute repeater, a flying tourbillon, a GMT, a work of art and a connected watch.
All of this begs the question: was there anything the Drum wasn’t?
The commemorative chronograph, which comes with a 22-karat gold rotor and 50 hours of power reserve, is available for $17,800 in a limited, numbered edition of 200 pieces, complete with a miniature Louis Vuitton trunk in Monogram canvas.