To support the Only Watch 2023 charity auction, Louis Vuitton has created the unique Tambour Einstein Automata timepiece.
The one-of-a-kind watch stands out with an unprecedented dial incorporating the techniques of micro-sculpture and grisaille enamel. The dial depicts the likeness of Albert Einstein, an interpretation based on one of his most recognised photographic and mischievous portraits, sticking his tongue out in an unexpected moment of levity.
To the left of his face, chalk-like scribblings evoke his academic research, one of them reading “E = LV²” — a playful allusion to Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence formula “E = MC²”.
Near the bottom of the dial, a model of an atom with four valence orbitals acknowledges Einstein’s formidable contributions to quantum mechanics, and close observers will also note that the atom model incorporates the form of a pointed Louis Vuitton Monogram Flower.
In the middle of Einstein’s forehead, an aperture displays the unsolved equation “T = ?” — reflecting the thoughts of anyone else who might be looking at the watch and wondering what time it is. Einstein’s left eye has been replaced by a Louis Vuitton Monogram Flower in blue lacquer, one of the only two coloured elements on the dial. The second coloured element is Einstein’s pink tongue.
Einstein’s famous mop of hair crafted in steel extends beyond the 46.8mm case, with one particular broad lock being a playfully disguised automata push-piece.
When this push-piece is actuated, four animations spring to life on the dial. The Tambour Einstein Automata watch provides time on demand. Once the lock of hair is pushed, the forehead aperture display changes to show a number between 1 and 12, indicating the hour.
The atom model rotates, with one of its valence orbitals (distinguished by a lacquered, pointed end) moving to the appropriate position on a 0–60 scale to provide the minutes. Einstein’s Monogram Flower eye narrows its petals, hinting at the razor-sharp precision mechanics under the dial. And finally, his tongue extends fully, in jubilant certainty of having delivered the correct solution.
The Tambour Einstein Automata watch shares the same movement (Calibre 525) that propelled the Carpe Diem Automata to win the Audacity Prize at the 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG). It has a power reserve of 100 hours.
The watch has a playful power reserve display near the 10 o’clock hour-marker. Usually it displays E=LV², and whenever the power reserve of the watch is reduced, this indicator transitions from LV to OW. E no longer equals LV², instead, the letters are replaced with the initials of the Only Watch charity auction. This display prompts the wearer to replenish the watch with mechanical energy.
The LV 525 mechanical hand-wound movement was developed by La Fabrique du Temps, the prestigious movement development department of Louis Vuitton.
The Tambour Einstein Automata Only Watch 2023 marks the first time that grisaille enamel has been used in a Louis Vuitton timepiece. This rare art-work was carried out by Nicolas Doublel from La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton workshop. The micro-sculpture engraving was done by Dick Steenman.
Only Watch was inaugurated in 2005 as a biennial charity auction featuring unique editions of timepieces, with the proceeds going towards the Association Monégasque contre les Myopathies (AMM) for the purposes of clinical research and development to cure Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Louis Vuitton has been supporting Only Watch since its debut, participating in each of the 10 editions since 2005.
Model: Louis Vuitton Tambour Einstein Automata Only Watch 2023
LV 525 calibre: mechanical movement with manual winding developed and assembled by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton
Automata mechanism featuring 4 animations, jumping hours, retrograde minutes, power reserve indicator
100 hours of power reserve
21,600 vibrations per hour
Stainless steel case and horns
Stainless steel crown set with one diamond and push-piece, both hand-engraved by Dick Steenman
46.8 mm diameter
14.4 mm thickness
Domed anti-reflection sapphire crystal
Water-resistant to 30 m
Enamel dial, using miniature and grisaille handmade technics, by Nicolas Doublel (Einstein’s face & base dial)
18K white gold hand engravings by Dick Steenman (Einstein’s face & minute hand)
Dial set with 1 diamond
Black alligator strap
Stainless steel double folding buckle
High watchmaking special trunk with hand painted Monogram canvas
5 round diamonds for ~0.06 carat
CHF 340,000 – 440,000