Credit: Louis Vuitton

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Louis Vuitton Tambour watch and to celebrate this milestone, LV has elected to present an updated version of the LV 277 chronograph first released back in 2002. To further add to the specialness of this celebratory limited edition timepiece, they have also fitted it with the legendary El Primero movement from Zenith, as the one from 20 years ago also featured the same movement.

It never ceases to amaze me that the most cost effective way to buy a brand new watch powered by the El Primero movement is in fact a Zenith. Everyone else charges a lot more for the privilege. And yet, people flock to these other brands because they’re powered by El Primero. On top of that, these other brands also use the Zenith movement as a selling point. You know something is up when a brand talks about the external movement supplier as if it’s a good thing. Any other movement, the brand would be doing everything they can to disguise the fact that it’s supplied and find some way, or excuse, to call it their own.

For those unfamiliar with the El Primero movement, the name is Esperanto for “The First” and it was christened as such because it was the first automatic chronograph movement announced to the world in 1969. Of course a lot of people will (and have) debated the truthfulness of this statement to death, but we won’t get into it for now. Suffice to say there were two other parties also vying for the title of being the first to create an automatic chronograph movement. These other parties were Seiko, and a consortium of Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton (who acquired Buren) and Dubois-Deprez. All three parties have staked a claim of being the first.

However, given that TAG Heuer and Zenith are now both under the umbrella of LVMH, they have gone the politically correct route: Zenith is required to say “the first integrated high frequency automatic chronograph” just to be absolutely specific about the claim, instead of a generic automatic chronograph. Why the specifics? That’s because the Heuer version was a modular, “low beat” automatic chronograph…

Granted a lot of us will categorise an LV watch as a fashion accessory and as much as it pains me to say this, LV has come a long way in boosting their watch manufacturing capabilities. This is due to the investment in the LVMH Watch and Jewellery Research and Development Department (which is now done at a group level in order to take advantage of the synergies and economies of scale) instead to relegating it to each individual brand.

And you must give credit where it’s due. The Tambour case has become synonymous with LV and it is an elegant and distinctive case. And that is no mean feat, as I can point to a number of legacy brands who still cannot create an identifiable, signature style despite having decades of history and heritage to draw upon, if not more.

Despite what you might think of the brand in terms of their watches, this limited edition anniversary watch will likely sell-out in a matter of moments and the price won’t even be a factor. What’s $26k for a watch when you’re already paying $4000 for a pair of LV AF1 (assuming you got them at retail)? Oh, I suppose you’re also paying for a mini LV trunk as a watch case.

The watch has a case diameter of 41.5mm and a height of 13.2mm. Water resistant to 100m, it comes on an alligator strap with a quick change system. Limited to 200 pieces with a retail price of $17,800 USD, and it is available at LV boutiques now.

For more, check out the Tudor Pelagos 39

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