Having produced several special orders for watches with automata in secret for a select group of clients, Louis Vuitton now presents the Tambour Carpe Diem, a one of a kind model that combines exclusive high watchmaking caliber with a subversive Vanitas.
The framework of the Tambour Carpe Diem was built around two major axes, a perfect mastery of this type of calibre in which the automaton is truly functional as it tells the time on demand, without hands. By pressing a push-piece, the dial’s miniature scenery comes to life on the wrist and the story’s protagonists, the snake and the skull which perform the role of jacquemarts, indicate the time.
To this is added another determining feature in the creation of this high-watchmaking timepiece, a unique stylistic approach on the historic symbolic art theme of the Vanitas, tackled in a way that is both positive and subversive.
Not content simply to allow the model to mark the passing of time, Louis Vuitton has provided additional watch complications. The Tambour Carpe Diem has four of these. A jumping hour, a retrograde minute, a power reserve display and the mechanism of the automata of which there are also four.
On the Tambour Carpe Diem, the time can be read on demand. To reveal it, simply push the reptile-shaped push-piece on the right of the case. The central snake’s head lifts up to reveal the hour aperture positioned on the forehead of the skull, while the rattlesnake tail oscillates towards the minutes, placed below the power reserve hourglass.
While Monogram Flowers appear in lieu of an eye, the skull’s jaw emits a mocking laugh from which emerge the words “Carpe Diem” – “Seize the day”, in the words of the poet Horace, encouraging people to make the most of every passing day. This amazing spectacle, which lasts for 16 seconds, is all the more remarkable as the reptile and skull move in such a bafflingly harmonious way.
Entirely developed and assembled at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, this calibre LV 525 demonstrates true high-watchmaking prowess and is currently the subject of several patent applications.
Another unique feature of the Tambour Carpe Diem is the design of its movement. Visible on the back of the timepiece, the calibre has been assembled in the shape of a skull, echoing the Vanitas on the dial.
An ultra-sophisticated contemporary aesthetic Depicted since the 15th century on pocket watches and clocks, these skulls, skeletons and hourglasses are an allegory of the passing of time. In order to bring this Vanitas up-to-date, Louis Vuitton has modernised its attributes, entrusting its manufacture to the very best Swiss craftsmen such as Anita Porchet for the enamelling and Dick Steenman for the engraving.
Over 50 hours’ work were dedicated to enamelling the snake and the dial. To bring to life the rattlesnake that appears in profile on the case’s push-piece, Dick Steenman crafted gold in a profiled, fluid manner in order to accentuate the crawling effect.
Sculpted from gold with incredible precision, the skull, reptile and hourglass are enhanced by the timeless modernity of Louis Vuitton emblems.
Like the Monogram flowers engraved on the skull, tattooed on the snake’s scales or appearing in blood red on the skull’s eye socket. The delicacy, transparency and colours of the enamel, which are particularly remarkable and realistic on the teeth of the jacquemart, enhance the relief on the dial, suggesting – even when the hour has not struck – the idea of movement, inspiring the protagonists of the Tambour Carpe Diem in a celebration of existence.
LV 525 Calibre: hand-wound mechanical movement developed and assembled by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton
Jacquemart mechanism featuring 4 animations, jumping hour, retrograde minute hand, power reserve indicator
100 hours of power reserve
21,600 oscillations per hour
18K pink gold case and horns
18K pink gold hand-carved crown and push-piece, push-piece set with 2 rubies
46.8 mm diameter
14.42 mm thickness
Domed anti-reflection sapphire crystal
Water-resistant to 30 m
Enamel and miniature hand-painting by Anita Porchet (dial, snake & teeth)
Hand engravings by Dick Steenman (dial, snake, skull, teeth & hourglass)
Hourglass made of curved glass
Dial set with a brilliant-cut diamond
Black alligator strap
18K pink gold double folding buckle
High Watchmaking Trunk
1 brilliant-cut diamond for ~0.02 carat and 2 rubies for ~0.01 carat