Louis Vuitton Returns to the Escale Wristwatch

Subtle and refined details.

Louis Vuitton is steadily rebuilding its watch collecting, reorienting the offerings towards more designs with thoughtful details and decoration. Having already redesigned the Tambour, the brand now debuts the Escale Time-Only Automatic.

Returning to a case design that’s been in the Louis Vuitton catalogue for well over the decade, the new Escale is a no-frills three-hander with discreet references to the brand’s trunks incorporated into the aesthetic.

Initial thoughts

I’ve long been a fan of the Escale case – we covered the Escale Worldtime over a decade ago – because it is simple, distinctive, and wears well.

The signature Escale models in the past, however, were world time models with extravagantly multicoloured dials. The aesthetic was typical, over-the-top Louis Vuitton. I liked them, a lot in fact, but they were not for everyone, and certainly not easily legible.

The new Escale, on the other hand, is a practical watch that is legible but thoughtfully designed with discreet details that evoke Louis Vuitton’s trunks.

It retains the same case but with a discreet, three-hand dial. Extravagant it is not, but it has wider appeal.

Inside is the same LFT023 found in the Tambour, so movement-wise it has the same strengths and weaknesses. The movement is thin and attractively styled, but could do with more refined details, like the regulator index for instance.

Though not perfect (or entirely in-house), the LFT023 compares well against the ETA 2892 found in the original Escale models, reflecting the rapid advancement of Louis Vuitton’s watch division. Moreover, the LFT023 feels to me like an in-between calibre that’s merely a stop along the journey towards vertical integration and an eventual movement made in house.

The Escale is similar to the Tambour in terms of pricing as well. It is smartly positioned next to the likes of H. Moser & Cie. but below Patek Philippe in the price spectrum, making it a reasonable proposition.

Discreet detailing

The case of the new Escale is essentially identical to that of the original, retaining the same compact dimensions of 39 mm by 10.34 mm (and a bit slimmer not counting the domed crystal).

Fairly simple on its front, the Escale case is best appreciated in profile, where the lugs and crown reveal themselves.

Inspired by the riveted brass corners found on Louis Vuitton trunks, the lugs are a distinctive detail that refine the design. They polished and contrast against the brushed flanks of the case.

Similarly, the octagonal crown is modelled on a single brass rivet, and it in turn inspired the crown of the Louis Vuitton x Rexhep Rexhepi LVRR-01 Chronographe à Sonnerie.

Unlike the original Escale that limited the trunk detailing to the case, the new Escale cleverly integrates the same elements into the dial.

The hour markers at the quarters feature actual rivets that secure them to the dial, while the engraved dots on the minute scale evoke the nails on the frame of a trunk.

Made primarily of two parts, the centre and chapter ring, the dial in all its variants features solid gold hands and applied markers.

The sections of the dial, hands, and markers can each be varied to create the different versions, all of which are surprisingly different, reflecting the modularity of the dial construction.

The top of the line version is a polished black onyx dial with a silvered chapter ring and brilliant-cut diamonds on the hour markers. This black-tie variant also sports a bezel set with baguette-cut diamonds to complete the look.

Also in platinum is the model with a meteorite dial centre that gives the watch a monochromatic yet varied look. Although everything is in shades of silver and grey, the different textures and surface finishing make it interesting.

And finally the more affordable versions include a pair in pink gold with a grained dial in either silver or blue, with the blue being notably striking.

All versions of the Escale are powered by the LFT023 that’s chronometer certified by the Geneva Observatory. Almost identical to the calibre found inside the Tambour (the only difference being the seconds), the LFT023 was developed in collaboration with Le Cercle des Horlogers.

The movement specialist has supplied the architecture that underpins the LFT023 to other brands so the layout is familiar, but the calibre has been substantially customised for Louis Vuitton.

Amongst the notable details are the relief markings and borders on the frosted bridges, the clear jewels, and the engine-turned solid-gold micro-rotor.

It’s an attractive movement in terms of aesthetics, save for the Etachron regulator index that should be replaced with something more refined.

Key specs and price

Louis Vuitton Escale Time-Only Automatic
Ref. W3PG11 (rose gold with silver dial)
Ref. W3PG21 (rose gold with blue dial)
Ref. W3PT11 (platinum with meteorite dial)
Ref. W3PT3Y (platinum with onyx dial and diamond-set bezel)

Diameter: 39 mm (model with diamond-set bezel is 41 mm)
Height: 10.34 mm (model with diamond-set bezel is 12.74 mm high)
Material: 18k rose gold or platinum
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: LFT023
Features: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Leather with pin buckle

Limited edition: No 
 At Louis Vuitton boutiques
Price: 18k rose gold €29,000; platinum with meteorite dial €39,000; platinum with baguette-cut diamonds €150,000

Prices exclude taxes

For more, visit Louisvuitton.com.


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