“After twelve years of refinement of our patented Spin Time, we decided to venture toward unprecedented technical challenges,”
the conservative codes
of haute horlogerie
explains Jean Arnault,
Director of Marketing and Development, Louis Vuitton Watches.“The Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum is not only a formidable horological feat, it is a unique and disruptive complicated hybrid watch that combines the best of the mechanical and electronic worlds at the service of both legibility and design.”
An audacious endeavour two years in the making, the Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum injects subversive innovation into the formality of haute horlogerie. Inspired by the bioluminescence of deep-sea creatures, the Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum seamlessly blends the art of watchmaking with the science of microelectronics, utilising a dozen tiny light-emitting diodes (LED) that light up the Spin Time display from within.
The artful combination of the two fields is unique in the world of haute horlogerie,
while the manner of execution is quintessentially Louis Vuitton in its finesse and ingenuity. Technology has been harnessed to enhance the display of the time, while carefully delineating the physical modularity of the electronic and mechanical segments for ease of use and fuss-free maintenance.
The radical nature of the Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum is reflected in the bold aesthetics that set it apart from the mechanical Spin Time. Dressed entirely in matte black DLC contrasting against vivid, luminous green and yellow – the trademark colours of Super-Luminova® - the Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum bears a metallised emblem on its sapphire back that reinterprets the Louis Vuitton Monogram as a circuit board.
A feat of technical excellence
At the centre of the watch sits the proprietary LV 68 calibre developed by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, in Geneva, that specialises in complications. Constructed to appear as if it is floating within the watch case, the LV 68 is entirely mechanical and functions like a conventional Spin Time Air movement.
But depressing the pusher integrated into the crown illuminates the hour cubes – a feat accomplished by tiny LEDs positioned directly on the top face of each cube. The LEDs project a tiny but pronounced beam of light into each cube, lighting it up from the inside.
Stunning in its luminosity and shocking for an haute horlogerie creation, the illumination evokes as much as the imagination allows: an extraterrestrial glow, the supernatural, or electronic dance music.
Crucially, the illumination is bright and enduring - the cubes remain lit as long as the pusher is depressed. And even after the pusher is released, the illumination continues for another three seconds.
The unwavering illumination makes this micro-electronic complication the obverse of traditional watchmaking, a philosophical counterpoint to convention. Because mechanical movements rely on spring power, the actions and sequences generated by such mechanisms are inevitably brief. The enduring illumination of the Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum, so rare in watchmaking, serves as a reminder of its radical concept.
In fact, the concept is not only radical in terms of technology, but even in its tangible, physical characteristics. While the cubes in a conventional Spin Time Air are milled aluminium, the Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum swaps the alloy for fused silica, glass made of almost perfectly pure silicon dioxide.
The absence of impurities and additives require a far higher working temperature, resulting in a more laborious manufacturing process. But it is that very purity that renders fused silica the ideal material for exacting applications like optical lenses, semiconductors, and the hour cubes that channel the light of the LEDs.
Artfully concealed under the flange of the case is a precision – electronics assembly made up of a ring containing 12 LEDs – one for each hour cube – along with an integrated circuit and power source in the form of twin batteries.
The ingenuity of the compact illumination system means the Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum possesses the same dimensions as the standard Spin Time Air, a diameter of 42.5 mm and a height of 12.3 mm.
And the highly-efficient LEDs allow the illumination system to be activated six to seven times a day, every day for three years, before the batteries need replacing.
Despite being entirely hidden from the wearer, the power supply and its maintenance were critical considerations during the Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum’s development, with the goal being a streamlined, pleasurable experience for the owner. As a result, the LEDs are powered by two batteries secured by an enclosed ring, allowing them to be replaced with no damage to the electronic or mechanical sections of the movement.
A subtle, lighted ring at the base of the crown functions as a battery-level indicator which flickers when the batteries are in need of eventual replacement.
Juxtaposed against the advanced micro-electronics of the illumination module is the self-winding LV 68 movement that is assembled by hand at La Fabrique du Temps in Geneva. While the LV 68 indicates the hours in an original and contemporary manner, the principle behind the inventive display is eminently traditional.
Located just below each cube is a Maltese cross gear. Also known as a Geneva drive after its city of origin – it was reputedly devised by Geneva watchmakers in the 17th
century - the Maltese cross gear is the classical solution for periodic motion in a watch movement.
Specifically, the cubes of the Spin Time each make a quarter revolution twice a day, a task that requires delicate, individual adjustment of each cube’s mechanism by a watchmaker to ensure a crisp, timely jump. But the Spin Time display is three-dimensional, so the Maltese cross gears are positioned at a right angle to the movement – a unique twist to a centuries-old invention.
In a nod to traditional watchmaking, the dial of the Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum is decorated with techniques synonymous with traditional haute horlogerie.
The central portion is decorated with a pattern of parallel stripes known as Cotes de Geneve, while the lower dial plate is finished with perlage.
But as with all things the Tambour Spin Time Air Quantum, the decoration is traditional with a twist. The Cotes de Geneve is a fusion of new and old: the pattern is applied to the dial plate that is then DLC coated and overlaid with the Louis Vuitton Monogram printed in yellow Super-Luminova®. The lower dial plate is similarly coated in DLC, giving it a restrained gleam when it catches the light at just the right angle.
Traditional decorative techniques continue beyond the dial and movement, as is convention in the highest echelons of haute horlogerie,
where all components, inside or out, are decorated to the nth degree.
Encircling the Spin Time display is a matte sandblasted flange with a dozen hour indexes, each carefully engraved with a diamond-tipped tool. Despite being recessed, the indexes have mirror-finished surfaces that give them the appearance of appliques at certain angles.
The haute horlogerie
techniques continue with the exterior of the DLC-finished Tambour case. The titanium case has a finely frosted surface accented with mirror-polished chamfers, otherwise known as anglage, on both the rim of the flange and edges of the lugs – the same finishes found in a high-end movement.
But continuing the contemporary style set by the dial, the case has also been coated in DLC, giving it a charcoal finish that accentuates the contrast between the matte, frosted surfaces and reflective, polished anglage.
Light, as always, is the key to the beauty of time.
Since 1854, Louis Vuitton has brought unique designs to the world, combining innovation with style, always aiming for the finest quality.
Today, the House remains faithful to the spirit of its founder, Louis Vuitton, who invented a genuine “Art of Travel3
through luggage, bags and accessories which were as creative as they were elegant and practical.
Since then, audacity has shaped the story of Louis Vuitton. Faithful to its heritage, Louis Vuitton has opened its doors to architects, artists and designers across the years, all the while developing disciplines such as ready-to-wear, shoes, accessories, watches, jewellery and fragrance. These carefully created products are testament to Louis Vuitton’s commitment to fine craftsmanship.