Up Close: Louis Vuitton Tambour Slim Vivienne Jump Hours

A complicated, character watch.

Louis Vuitton (LV) marked the 20th anniversary of its first mechanical watch last year (with an El Primero-powered chronograph). The brand has rapidly evolved its horological offerings over the two decades, going from largely basic, monogrammed watches to ambitious complications like the gothic Carpe Diem Minute Repeater with automaton

A more whimsical example of LV’s progress in complications is the Tambour Slim Vivienne Jump Hours, a quirky interpretation of the jump hour complication that’s presented in a redesigned, svelte version of its signature drum-shaped case.

Initial thoughts

At the distance, the Vivienne Jump Hours looks like a run-of-the-mill character watch that’s slightly fancier than average. But upon closer inspection, it reveals a novel complication and an impressive degree of detail in the execution of the dial.

The jump hour is mechanically conventional but presents as a double jumping indicator thanks to clever design. Its whimsical and unusual presentation typifies the spirit of LV. In fact, the complication is different enough that we hope it will make its way into more watches, especially timepieces for men. Given that the titular Vivienne character has a male counterpart named Gaston, it would make sense for the complication to make its way into a watch in a larger size. 

The Tambour Slim Vivienne Jumping Hours “Casino” with a green skarn dial

And I really dig the dials of the Vivienne Jump Hours, especially the dial in skarn, a recently-discovered mineral being used for the first time in watchmaking. The fact that it’s a first in watchmaking isn’t especially notable, but green skarn’s texture and colour instantly evoke the green-felt top of a poker table. The other two dial variants for the watch are pretty, but this is perfect.

Beyond the material, the dial decoration is equally impressive. The applied elements are tiny yet remarkably detailed and have a subtle thickness that’s just enough to show depth (the secret to that is that the elements are metallised stickers; more on that below).

More broadly, the Vivienne encapsulates LV’s strengths and weaknesses as a watchmaker. Naturally it excels in distinctive design, a given since it is mainly a fashion house. And from a technical perspective, its in-house dial-making workshop results in impressive versatility and quality in terms of dials, while the mechanical ingenuity of LFDT results in complications like the this jumping hours.

On the other hand, the main shortcoming of LV’s watchmaking is its lack of a proprietary movement (or movements) to serve as the base calibre for watches like the Vivienne. That said, LV is known to be working on its own movement, so that’s a matter of patience.

The ETA 2892 is dressed up with an 18k pink gold rotor

The whimsical mascot

The central motif of the jump hours is Vivienne, the whimsical mascot Louis Vuitton created in 2017. An anthropomorphic character composed of the brand’s monogram emblems, Vivienne has since added a touch of whimsy to LV’s ad campaigns and products.

Vivienne previously made an appearance in the brand’s timepieces, albeit in a more subtle manner with the Tambour Spin Time Air Vivienne of 2021, a variant of the brand’s signature cubic jump hours where the traditional cubes for the hours were replaced by tiny Vivienne figures. 

A Vivienne doll in wood and monogram canvas. Image – Louis Vuitton

The new Tambour continues the tradition of high horology character watches – Gerald Genta’s Disney watches are perhaps the best known – with Vivienne being the star.

The watch indicates minutes conventionally with a central hand that’s actually “invisible” because it’s a tube of transparent sapphire crystal.

While conventional jump hours have a single hour window, usually at six or 12 o’clock, the Vivienne Jump Hours relies on two hour windows positioned asymmetrically.

As the minute hand pass 12 o’clock, the jump hour mechanism is triggered, causing the hour disc to jump and simultaneously switching the hour display from one window to the other. So if it is the left window showing “12”, then “1” will display in the right window at the hour of the hour.

Though mechanically conventional, the jumping hour is presented in a double-window display so the hour display alternates between two windows every hour. Because the hour windows are discreetly positioned as part of the decorative pattern, the resulting visual effect is used to create the impression of cards being dealt or juggling balls.

The jumping hour mechanism is a module on top of the base movement, which adds to the height of the watch.

As a result, although the case is a compact 38 mm, it is relatively thick at 12.21 mm, which is about the same height as the current Rolex Daytona.

The case is either 18k yellow, pink, or white gold, depending on the version

All versions have a rose-cut diamond in the crown

All three versions of the Vivienne Jump Hours have the same movement, but with different, thematic dials. Casino has cards and poker chips spread out, Fortune portrays Vivienne as a fortune teller, and Circus has Vivienne dressed as a ringmaster complete with top hat.

From left: Circus, Casino, and Fortune

The dial material varies across the three. Fortune does it with blue aventurine glass, Circus is in white mother-of-pearl, and the most exotic is Casino, which has a dial made of green skarn, a green stone visually similar to jadeite and maw sit sit.

And the accompanying decoration is naturally different, but it is done in an equally elaborate manner for each model. The dials are set with diamonds, metallised appliqués, and hand-painted elements. On the Fortune model, for instance, Vivienne’s headscarf, jewellery, and cards are all hand painted, while the monogram flowers on the dial are appliqués secured to the dial with adhesive.

Fortune has an aventurine glass dial

While aventurine and mother-of-pearl dials are common, green skarn is unusual. In fact, the Casino model is the first wristwatch to have a green skarn dial.

More accurately known as sannan-skarn, the material is a metamorphic rock first discovered in Pakistan in 2015. Easily mistaken for jadeite or maw sit sit, green skarn has a mottled finish of rich green with black inclusions, making it a perfect substitute for the green felt of a card table.

The Casino model is set with tsavorites and red rubies on its bezel

The new Tambour is powered by the LV 180, an automatic movement customised by La Fabrique du Temps (LFDT), the complications specialist LV acquired in 2012. LFDT is still managed by founders Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini, veteran watchmakers whose careers took them to Patek Philippe and Gerald Genta.

The base of the LV 180 is the workhorse ETA 2892, a robust calibre that can easily handle the energy-intensive needs of a jumping hour. But the movement has been around a long time, so its 42-hour power reserve is shorter than the 70 hours that’s now the industry norm.

Here the ETA 2892 is in its top-of-the-line guise, which means slightly more refined finishing than basic versions of the movement. And the movement is further dressed up with a rose gold rotor featuring the LV monogram. Even so, the Vivienne Jump Hours would probably have been better served with a closed back since the movement is fairly plain, at least for the enthusiasts who knows her calibres.

The LV 180

Concluding thoughts

Dainty and whimsical, the Tambour Slim Vivienne Jump Hours is an elegantly quirky complication with a beautifully executed dial. It manages to combine LV’s exuberant style with a classical complication presented in a clever manner. But a more sophisticated base movement would elevate it to another level altogether.

Key facts and price

Louis Vuitton Tambour Slim Vivienne Jump Hours

Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 12.21 mm
Material: 18K white, pink, or yellow gold, set with diamonds, green tsavorites, or red rubies
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: LV 110
Features: Double aperture jumping hour complication with minutes
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Alligator leather with pin buckle set with diamonds

Limited edition: No
At Louis Vuitton boutiques
Price: Price upon request

For more, visit Louisvuitton.com.

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