The Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime watch has one of the most original, distinctive and colourful watch faces of 2014, but despite its jazzy and almost playful appearance, to make it required the attention of two of the watchmaking industry’s most creative minds.
It is a marvellous concept really. Nothing could have demonstrated the link between Louis Vuitton’s heritage of luxury travel and their relatively new commitment to watchmaking better than a watch which is capable of displaying the time in 24 world locations simultaneously. The creation of such a timepiece required shrewd dial design and mechanical know-how in order to create a readable, usable model – exactly the kind of skills which Louis Vuitton have at their disposal, having acquired La Fabrique du Temps in 2011.
Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime – Commitment to High-end Watchmaking
The men behind La Fabrique du Temps are Enrico Barbasini and Michel Navas. Prior to founding their own company they had helped Mathias Buttet set up the horological think tank, BNB. They have, between them spent years with some of the industry’s best – individually at Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet and together at Franck Muller, for whom they translated the idea of the Crazy Hours into an on-the-wrist reality. Louis Vuitton had been a client of La Fabrique du Temps since its inception in 2007, but when they announced that they had acquired the company, it was a clear statement of the commitment to high-end watchmaking by the French luxury goods house.
Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime – 24 Locations at a Glance
The dial of the Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime consists of three discs, all mobile and all adjustable via a single crown. The large exterior disc which is highly colourful features the initials of cities all around the world. It can be rotated to adjust to the reference city which should be positioned at the 12 o’clock, above the yellow arrow. The two central discs rotate constantly, the outer is divided into two black and white semi-circles serving to indicate day and night time, while the smallest in the centre displays the minutes. Beneath the yellow arrow, which indicates the hour in the reference city, the minutes can be read using the precise markers on the innermost circle to aid accuracy. Thus the reference time as well as the time in all 24 locations can be read at a glance easily – but of course, the creation of such a mechanism is anything but easy.
Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime – The Craftsman’s Touch
A brand new movement, the LV 106 automatic calibre was devised to power this unique “hands free” Worldtime watch. Despite the constantly moving discs which enable time-reading the piece retains a power reserve of 38 hours, its oscillating weight which rotates around a large “LV” in frosted glass can be viewed through rear sapphire. Each watch dial will take 50 hours to complete, using miniature techniques working with oil paint to achieve the individual motifs for each location. Over 30 colours are used, before the piece is dried in an oven, heated to 100 °C. In order to add to the visual effect of the colours and contrasting features, the only fixed element in this extraordinary dial – the black triangle and its accompanying yellow arrow – are applied directly onto sapphire.
Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime – Conclusion & Price
There are, of course styling touches which are synonymous with Louis Vuitton, such as the horns of the 41mm white gold case, which are reminiscent of the corner pieces which Louis Vuitton trunks use for protection – but these additions are subtle inclusions, the Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime watch is first and foremost a Haute Horlogerie presentation, by a company who take their watchmaking very seriously. Sticker Price $67,500.