Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem


Louis Vuitton Carpe Diem

The serpent’s tail tells the tale of expiring minutes. But how does the Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem indicate the hours? There’s a question to stump Mr. Klosoff, our resident WTF dial expert. Before the big reveal, let’s get a few thing straight . . .

LV Carpe Diem

It doesn’t matter. Since the advent of the smart phone and smart watch, time telling via a traditional watch has become increasingly irrelevant. Traditional watches are evolving into a focused display of the watchmaker’s art and the wearer’s wealth and taste. In a word, they’re becoming jewelry. Or, if you prefer, art.

This sort of transition occurs whenever a new technology “replaces” an older one. Horses didn’t disappear when the internal combustion appeared, nor did radio take a long walk off a short pier when TV went mass market. In both cases, the medium’s case use changed. Horse plows and radio dramas? Gone. Horse racing and music radio? Still a thing.

The Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem shows us the horological way forward.

Louis Vuitton Carpe Diem close up

It’s a Day of the Dead watch (click here to get up to speed on the genre) executed with stunning detail and startling verisimilitude. The teeth have a gleaming sheen; the gold tooth looks like it was pulled from Ludacris’ grill. Brought to life by horological enameler extraordinaire Anita Porchet, the snake is realistic enough to give an ophidiophobe nightmares.

That said, our dentist friend tells me the Louis Vuitton Tambour skull has the wrong number and type of teeth (they’re all incisor-ish). The snake skin design is more Louis Vuitton handbag than serpenti camouflage (unless snakes are evolving to hunt in LV boutiques). While we wait for life to imitate art we can least recognize art when we see it. And here it jolly well is.

Thanks to the magic of video, you now know how the LV watch displays the hour. And the minute. Press the gold pusher. The snake’s head moves to the side and a glossy red hour is revealed.

At the same time, the snake’s tail points to the minutes and the rose gold skull opens its mouth to promote the Robin Williams’ hit movie Carpe Diem. I still don’t know how the hourglass works but so are the days of our lives.

Carpe Diem caseback

Which makes the Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem about as practical as those digital watches where you have to press a button to light up the display. Only less so: the LV watch takes sixteen seconds to do its thing.

Actually, a lot less practical. I’m not sure if the 426-piece LV 525 movement – based on La Fabrique du Temp’s minute repeating movement – is shock resistant, but I’m thinking it’s not something its owner would want to test.

LC side on

Not if they don’t like waiting months for LV’s watchmakers to repair their $475k timepiece. Anyway, it’s not like the LVTCD is a daily wear watch, considering its dimensions (46.8mm x 14.42mm).

Or is it? I imagine the multi-millionaires/billionaires who could put this on their shopping list are the kind of people who might do just that – even if they have to have their shirt cuffs tailored. After all, in certain circles, Pateks and F.P. Journes are a dime-a-dozen. Well, more than a dime, but you get my drift.

Hamilton watch

Could we see this same artistic approach to watchmaking further down – a LOT further down – the price ladder? It’s already happening, as the Core Seven Sins (review to follow) proves.

But don’t get to thinking this idea of watch as pure fashion is something new. As the 1954 Life magazine image proves, the traditional watch’s new role is a distillation of one its traditional aspects. One I like to call “fun.”


  1. I can’t wait to read that Core Seven Sins review. The price point is just a little to high — I would have bought one by now if it was closer to $250. I know they have a quartz for that price, but I’m not paying that much for a watch with a quartz movement unless it has a chronograph function…

  2. I’m grandfathered into expecting a watch to serve as a functional object first and foremost. I’d encourage the under-40 crowd to enjoy these jumping hour and other watches that require reading itty bitty little numbers while their eyesight can readily do so. I can make this one out at about double scale on my screen.

    I’m fine with watches transitiioning into curios, but I worry about the staying power of novelty. Everybody loves those old piggy banks that put on some mechanized show with the coin, but I’m not sure they are being made in any quantity anymore.

    • I’m sure there will always be a relatively big market for “old school” men’s watches as jewelry, at least until smart watch makers catch up to Casio in terms of design.

  3. Mr. Jones does jump hour death watches better for significantly less. It’s a fine line to walk, but to me the AP Black Panther watch fell on this art side of the line.

  4. I don’t usually like novelty watches. But this watch is really intricate and beautiful. It’s too bad it’s so tall and takes so long to tell time, because that makes for bad wrist presence and poor utility, even for a novelty watch. (Not that I would be considering it at 500 K if those issues were remedied). But can’t argue it’s a real piece of art.

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