Tambour Carpe Diem, a reinvented Vanitas

The stunning Tambour Carpe Diem watch tells time with two automata, a snake and a skull. Louis Vuitton has dusted off the classic Vanitas theme.

After having secretly filled several special orders for automaton watches, Louis Vuitton has decided to lift the veil on the mystery with this one-of-a-kind model, the Tambour Carpe Diem. “We wanted to bring to the jacquemart our vision of the 21st century”, explains Master Watchmaker Michel Navas. “Our aim was to get off the beaten track.” Needless to say, they’ve pulled it off, with no shortage of flair. Originally, jacquemarts were automata created to strike the hours on church bell towers. When watchmakers scaled them down for watches, their function became essentially decorative, as the time is indicated by the hands. With the Tambour Carpe Diem, Louis Vuitton wanted to restore this mechanism to its original glory, as this watch has no hands and the time can only be read using an automaton. High art:

On the Tambour Carpe Diem, time is told on demand by pressing a push-piece, shaped like a reptile on the right of the case. The head of the snake lifts, revealing the hour aperture on the forehead of the skull, while the rattlesnake tail swings to indicate the minutes, positioned underneath the power reserve hourglass. The skull takes on a mocking expression, with a wink in the shape of the brand's Monogram flowers in lieu of an eye. As the final flourish in this 16-second show, skull’s jaw emits a mocking laugh, and the words Carpe Diem appear ("Seize the day"). This maxim, attributed to the poet Horace, invites man to make the most of every passing day. And, as surprising as it may seem, this watch with its multiple intricate features is perfectly easy to read!

Beyond the watchmaking prowess, you’ll love the innovative and playful take on the classic Vanitas theme, which rose to fame in the 17th century. What's more, the movement on the back of the rose gold case has been designed in the shape of a skull, echoing the one on the dial.

And now for the SoBARNESpedia fact: the term "Vanitas" comes from some of the first words in Ecclesiastes, Vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas / Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. It evokes the brief and therefore pointless nature of human life... So, the Tambour Carpe Diem is also a philosophical message! It's a one-off piece, insists Louis Vuitton. But there's no doubt that the most devoted (and wealthiest) collectors of the brand will be able to get this exercise in style produced in a small run.

laurent@sobarnes.com

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Infos : Louisvuitton.com

 

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