Exploration of mortality and symbolism with Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem

Although on the surface it appears to be a watch exploring the theme of mortality and the transience of life, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem is essentially the embodiment of an aphorism about valuing every moment.

It is a mystery to which science has no answer. So ingrained in our culture, it becomes a subject we endlessly explore in arts, science, and philosophy, all in a vain attempt to prove its very existence. A subject so close to us that its certainty is inescapable, much like the logic and physics that govern our lives, but the struggle to come to terms with the end of the current chapter and the ringing of the bell – does it fades to eternal black or is there hope for a sequel in another form, on another plane that we can’t yet explain?

Death and the afterlife spawned images animated by tropes and illustrations. Apparently a taboo, but it is so often visited that art revolving around the brevity of life and, by extension, the inevitability of death has carved out its own branch. Vanitas, it is named after the word for emptiness in the Latin lexicon.

“Our goal was to think outside the box,” explains Michel Navas, master watchmaker at La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton. And off the beaten path, he launches, while Louis Vuitton delves into philosophy, religion, understatement to create the Tambour Carpe Diem, an automaton masterpiece whose goal is to transmit the “vision of the 21st century with all the energy and creativity that characterizes it”. by Louis Vuitton in the modern reinterpretation of the jacquemart.

As automatons, Jacquemarts were originally installed in churches dating back to medieval times where they fulfilled the essential role of chiming every hour to alert occupants to the passage of time when the sound of the bell rang through the city. Closely associated with the church, the jacquemart would aesthetically take on a religious connotation, often softened in the manner of the memento mori. Although in the case of Benfeld Town Hall, the jacquemart plays a rather somber reminder in an unvarnished execution of these ideals, with three representative statues of Prudence, Justice and Death.

Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem

Over time, as the miniaturization of timepieces took hold, the jacquemart was pared down to become practically decorative, purged of its original lens and mechanism, and only the motif alluding to its provenance – the skull, the hourglass, the flower and other transitory elements. symbols. Having already produced automatons for a select clientele for several years, Louis Vuitton is committed to restoring the jacquemart to its original meaning. Two years of preparation, in this striking Tambour Carpe Diem, the jacquemart is awakened for a triumphant awakening.

A mixture of complications, the watch includes among its functions a jumping hour, a retrograde minute, a power reserve indicator and an automaton. “The feat was to create a mechanical movement powerful enough to integrate and smoothly operate all these functions that had never been brought together before,” Navas explains further.

To realize this vision, the watch relies on the automaton which offers more than floridity and animation because it is truly functional. The automaton is thus built to give the time on demand without the deployment of traditional hour and minute hands. Instead, the jumping hour and retrograde minute are creatively integrated into the automaton.

Light pressure on the reptile-shaped right pusher at 2 o’clock brings the miniature decor of the dial to life. The serpent’s head recedes to reveal the hour window that sits beneath all that time, while its tail glides towards the minute. The sands of time are perfectly personified by the hourglass power reserve indicator positioned above the retrograde minute. The impermanence of life is represented by a flower – and I might very appropriately add a house motif – together with the jaw flashing the phrase “carpe diem”. In a visual spectacle of just 16 seconds, Louis Vuitton totally seizes the moment to make the most of this astonishing orchestra.

Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem

The watch is a fascinating work even if it remains static. The liveliness of the dial is a painstaking work of art by Swiss artisans with Anita Porchet and Dick Steenman in charge of enameling and engraving respectively. The enameling of the serpent and the dial alone consumed more than 50 hours. On the dial, monogram flowers lend modern elements to an otherwise prominent vanity comprised of the ominous skull and precise scales of the rattlesnake.

The 46.8mm 18k rose gold watch case recalls the percussion instrument in which the Tambour acquired its name, while the reptilian pusher is adorned with two rubies as eyes. On the dial, the hand-painted and engraved enamel snake fiercely guards a brilliant-cut diamond.

The work of the enamel, in particular the translucent white shade found on the teeth, is remarkably realistic and the single gold number seems to offer a facetious look in the face of such a serious subject.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve come to appreciate it as a celebration of a life well lived or the end of a journey; what is indisputable is that the execution of the Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem is second to none. The in-house movement developed and assembled in the hallowed temple of fine watchmaking at Louis Vuitton allows the parts to move in unison to convey an idea that continues to plague society as a whole.

Louis Vuitton

The LV 525 caliber awaits several patents for its innovations. With 426 components in total, the hand-wound movement has 100 hours of power reserve. Visible on the back of the timepiece, the caliber bridge is also designed in the shape of a skull.

A question that no one seems to have a definitive answer to, rather than worrying about the narrative that may come tomorrow over which we have no control, it may be wiser of us to move our business to the present – seize the day.

This story first appeared on Prestige Malaysia

All images: Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

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