Minute repeater watches have always been considered by well-versed collectors as the mechanical benchmark in terms of horology craftsmanship. Rather than a long metaphysical discussion of this time- keeper that gives the time in music and allows the second of our five senses to appreciate temporality, here are three points summarising what you need to know about the queen of complications.
Striking watches are said to have been invented by Daniel Quare (1649–1724), a brilliant and meticulous English watchmaker. It is also reported that Thomas Mudge, another Englishman who was active between 1738 and 1794, invented the mechanism, allowing a quarter repeater watch already featuring two gongs to sound the minutes. This was made possible thanks to the introduction of an additional rack and a wheel with four leaves, each with 14 steps. This star wheel, indexed to the hour wheel of the minute wheel, features a microscopic mechanism known as a “surprise”, in addition to its 14 teeth or shrouds (one per minute). Its purpose is to prevent the watch from striking again 14 times or just once on the hour.
The aim of a mechanism of this kind was to provide the time without the need to consult the dial. In other words, it was now possible to know what time it was without having to take the timepiece out of your pocket, thereby clearly showing your boredom. Later, when it became customary for people to gather together in closer quarters, watchmakers invented à tact and à toc watches. Their mechanisms gave the time through vibrations rather than sound in response to this new social issue.
Throughout the 19th century and until the invention of the train, coach watches chimed out the hours when the half-light made it impossible to read the watch’s dial.
From the minute repeater to drum rolls
This watch, dedicated to Epicureans and aesthetes who take a different approach to travelling at large, has a rare strength drawn from the close ties that it enjoys with watchmaking history and expertise.
The minute repeater is considered by experts in the art to be one of the most sophisticated complications. Over and above this aura unlike any other, the Tambour Minute Repeater has a little something extra that makes it stand out from traditional minute repeater watches.
In order to express its passion for travel, beautiful workmanship and high-class mechanisms, La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton has created a Tambour watch incorporating this subtle complication combined with a useful read mode for globetrotters.
Keen to offer the best of watchmaking to connoisseurs of fine mechanics, Louis Vuitton has created a travel minute repeater watch whose dial displays the time of the place where the traveller finds themselves, along with that of their place of origin (home time) in the window at the centre of the dial.
And because the strength of art increases with use, the manually wound calibre, protected by its gold case that is watertight to 30 metres, and visible through the dial and the transparent back, chimes the home time rather than the time displayed large by the hands. With this Tambour, the notes give time a more sensitive and personal dimension, whether the watch is moving or still (100-hour power reserve). And because luxury only has meaning when it is unique, the Tambour watch in white, rose or yellow gold is available on special order and can be customised on request. Accordingly, each Tambour Minute Repeater watch can be personalised with your initials, crest or an element in relief, replacing the number 4 under the lightly smoked sapphire glass dial.
The Louis Vuitton Tambour Minute Repeater sets a new standard in travel high watchmaking, featuring an ultra-sophisticated chiming movement that tells your Home Time and a second time zone that works in a simple and elegant way just by adjusting the crown. Even when this is set, you can still see your Home Time by a glance at the special central disc.
When you travel, pulling the crown out to position 1 allows you to set the hour hand on the main dial to indicate the second time zone – local time. The hand jumps from one hour to the next – forward or back- wards – as you adjust it, making it easy to count the number of hours that you want, ahead or behind. Not only does the disc at the centre of the watch remain on your Home Time, indicating the hour in your own city, but you can also lift the lever on the side of the case to hear the time at home in a beautiful musical chime. Wherever you are in the world, this a personal reminder of home and family.
When you return home and want to set the main dial to show the Home Time again, pull the crown out to position 2. When you adjust the hour and minute hands they now glide smoothly, as does the day-night indicator and the central disc. Now the main and central dials indicate the same time, working in harmony with the repeater chimes. When you travel again, pull the crown out to position 1 and the process begins anew.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Répétition Minutes specification:
• Tambour XL (44mm)
• Case in white gold 18k
• Strap in black alligator
• Water resistance 30m
• Back transparent
• Power reserve 100h
• 21,600 oscillations per hour
• 34 jewels
• Function Home Time, Power Reserve indicator, Night & Day indicator, Minute repeater complications
• Mechanical movement LV 178 Calibre
Image via I REEL / Louis Vuitton