The Louis Vuitton Tambour Moon Tourbillon Volant Poinçon De Genève watch — you’d think a name that long would include all that you need to know about its bearer, and yet, that is not the case. Yes, it’s another proof of Louis Vuitton gearing up its watchmaking division, and yes, it features the Tambour Moon case design that debuted in 2017, and indeed it is a flying tourbillon (that’s what Tourbillon Volant means) and it sports the Poinçon De Genève hallmark to certify its all-encompassing attention to details.

What’s missing is the fact that this the Louis Vuitton Tambour Moon Tourbillon Volant Poinçon De Genève is fitted with a sapphire case in green or yellow, and that’s a big deal because, for one, it is among the most spectacular case materials in modern watchmaking and, second, because these are the first-ever sapphire crystal-cased watches to attain the Geneva Seal — or Poinçon De Genève, in fancy haute horlogerie speak.

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Hands-on images by Ariel Adams.

Louis Vuitton goes so far as to say, “There is great potential in using cases cut from a block of colored synthetic sapphire” — which there very well should be given the effort each of these translucent capsules takes to make. To obtain a case middle, a caseback, and a bridge bearing the LV logo in a “strictly identical color” for each watch, a 50mm-wide and 150mm-long cylinder had to be extracted from the center of a block of mass-tinted sapphire from Japan weighing nearly 200kg. Each component is cut from this sapphire crystal bar using diamond tools to obtain the final dimensions.

The sapphire piece that results from these procedures is opaque, so all the elements need to be delicately polished to reveal their transparency and saturation. The brand claims that the full synthetic sapphire case of each watch requires 420 hours of complex operations on digitally controlled machines working with diamond tools. The 10mm-thick monobloc part that makes up the case middle, bezel, and glass, requires 100 hours of milling and 150 hours of polishing. The caseback needs 50 hours of machining and 60 hours of hand- and machine-finishing to become fully transparent and ready for assembly. Finally, the transparent bridge bearing the LV logo takes 20 hours of cutting and 40 hours of manual finishing to let the light pass through flawlessly. In other words, that tiny LV logo has taken over a week’s work of a trained polisher.

The 42.5mm-wide and just 9.9mm-thick case has 12 letters engraved into its concave outer side to form the LOUIS VUITTON script. Just like the indexes on the bezel flange, these are lacquered in white for the green sapphire version, and black for the yellow sapphire model. The lug structures are in black PVD-treated titanium and are attached by screws. The 30-meter water resistance rating of the case is achieved using a transparent gasket positioned between the case middle and the screw-down caseback so there are no unsightly black rubber rings anywhere in the construction to spoil the see-through fun of this translucent Louis Vuitton watch.

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Such a spectacular case had to have a movement to match, and so the brand called upon its in-house watch movement skunkworks, Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton. The Caliber LV90 is a hand-wound movement of an apparently straightforward design with a flying tourbillon at one end and a mainspring barrel — delivering 80 hours of autonomy — at the other. Although the recently updated Poinçon De Genève certification has notably added a requirement for exceptional case finishing — which is why this being the first sapphire-cased watch to attain the Hallmark is an impressive feat — uncompromised attention is still given to the quality of execution on every movement component.

The 160-part LV90 caliber tackles this with a finely openworked “monogram flower” tourbillon cage, mirror-polished screw heads, and beveled and polished spokes on every applicable wheel and… Well, that’s about it, as all the bigger plates and bridges are in matt black, ditching traditional and arguably more spectacular rhodium- or nickel-plated look for this stealthy and modern alternative. It is true that if you highlight everything, you’ve highlighted nothing — and with the radiant colors of the case, the openworked structure of the movement, and a ceaselessly rotating flying tourbillon, it makes sense to have a few resting points in the design.

On the wrist, the look-at-this yellow stands out more but it isn’t as though the comparably subdued green version could be easily missed. Leaving the rubber strap game for LVMH-owned Hublot, the Louis Vuitton Tambour Moon Tourbillon Volant Poinçon De Genève watch comes on a black alligator strap, an unexpected and yet acceptable match to this loud package that, again, helps tone things down a bit. We should not close without giving praise to the Tambour Moon case, which is intriguing and entertaining with its round front and distinctly concave profile. It takes time to discover its nuanced details, and that’s all the more true when there is a colorful sapphire case and an openworked movement to distract from them all.

The Louis Vuitton Tambour Moon Tourbillon Volant Poinçon De Genève watch is priced at $405,000. You can learn more at the brand’s website.

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