Despite its household name status as the absolute behemoth in the fashion industry, Louis Vuitton’s in-house luxury watchmaking efforts remain relatively under-the-radar. The centrepiece of this unsung collection is the Tambour line, which launched the brand’s in-house watchmaking efforts in 2002 and has remained a focal point for releases ever since.
For 2021, Louis Vuitton gives the Tambour design a vibrant and sporty new personality with the Tambour Street Diver series. Combining super-compressor diver elements with Louis Vuitton’s sense of form and attention to detail, the new Louis Vuitton Tambour Street Diver offers a uniquely rounded and luxe counterpoint to the usual harsh and tool-oriented diver aesthetic.
The new Louis Vuitton Tambour Street Diver line keeps the Tambour’s signature sloping drum-inspired case and attached lugs but reinvents the 44mm form in three dramatically different colourways. Without a doubt, the most luxurious of the trio is the Louis Vuitton Tambour Street Diver Black Blaze, which combines a black PVD stainless steel central case with pink gold along with the tall outer bezel, 3 o’clock signed crown, and the Tambour’s distinctive attached claw lugs. Skirting the line between masculine and androgynous design, this smooth form carries some interesting left-field unifying touches. Both the screw-down central crown at 3 o’clock and the 2 o’clock screw-down crown for the internal dive bezel echo the tapering semi-conical shape of the prominent case, while the sides of the outer bezel mark out each of the 12 hours with “LOUIS VUITTON” in slender engraved and enamelled letters.
The case back features a smoked display window overlaid with the brand’s iconic LV emblem. While the design carries clear diver hallmarks, the case manages only a somewhat disappointing 100 meters water resistance. The Tambour Street Diver Neon Black takes these same elements in a decidedly more sporting direction, with a full black PVD stainless steel central case complemented by polished stainless for the main crown and lugs. Louis Vuitton breaks up the profile of the tall sloping case here by adding a gloss finish to the black PVD bezel while the main case remains matte. Flashes of yellow on the bezel and 2 o’clock crown give this variant a more arresting and aggressive feel in initial images. Lastly, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Street Diver Skyline Blue offers a softer and more versatile side with a matte-navy PVD mid-case, accented with a touch of flash from polished stainless for the lugs, bezel, and central crown.
Louis Vuitton powers the Tambour Street Diver series with an unnamed automatic movement. While the brand itself offers few details surrounding this powerplant, it’s likely that, like previous sub-seconds Tambour models, this movement could be a decorated variant of the ETA 2895-2. The positioning of the sub-seconds hand lends credence to this possibility, and if so, performance is around 42 hours of power reserve at a 28,800 BPH beat rate.
The worlds of watch design and fashion design align less closely than one might expect. And while there’s certainly something to be said for specializing and staying in your lane, after nearly two decades, Vuitton’s Tambour line shows that there is indeed another way. And as the Street Diver ably demonstrates, Swiss know-how and high-fashion aesthetics make for a pretty potent combination.