March 6, 2022
by Bilal Khan
Colorful, brash, high-end, and easy to navigate — that’s how I’d summarize the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon Light Up after spending some time with the latest smartwatch from the iconic luxury brand. Frankly, I appreciate how up-front the entire presentation of the piece is. If you a) don’t like smartwatches; b) don’t like the design of the Tambour Horizon; c) prefer subtlety to flash; or d) all of the above, then this probably isn’t for you. And all that’s before mentioning price. Now, if you haven’t eliminated yourself, then keep an open mind, and take a look at the most unapologetically fun luxury smartwatch out there.
Note that I’m not going to get into all the specs and technical rigamarole here, but you can easily glean all that information from our release article here.
The Tambour Horizon Light Up lets you know what it’s all about from the name alone, which underscores how vital the “always-on” screen is. Rather than trying to impress with specs, it dazzles with spectacle. Seriously, I couldn’t stop tapping the screen to activate the vivid theatrical display that is wonderfully punctuated by the curved edges of the sapphire crystal. Of course, there are times when you don’t want a fireworks display on the wrist, as well as times when you want to extend battery life. Fortunately, it’s very simple to switch among four different modes either from the app or by swiping up on the watch. “Blossom” is the most fun, with just about every engagement with the watch kicking off that stunning light display. “Explorer” mode is meant for the typical day where you just want the connected features without the pomp, the weekday to Blossom mode’s weekend. “Submarine” is basically a “do not disturb” mode that silences notifications, and finally, “Saver” mode turns off most functions to extend battery life.
Swiping right on the screen lets you manage the “My Day” function, which handles the personal basics like calendar, appointments, weather, and the health tracker. Swiping left deals handles the “My Travel” functions like flight info and city guides. And swiping down lets you check messages and notifications. It’s all very clean, simple, and easy to operate, so it’s perfect if you’re like me and don’t want to deal with yet another overly complicated device in your life.
I initially wasn’t sure what the pushers on the side of the case could be for and worried they could add unnecessary complication to such an easy-to-use smartwatch. Fortunately, that’s not the case, as the upper pusher just shuffles watch faces, and the bottom pusher can be set to quickly activate an app of the wearer’s choosing.
Much has been made about the new operating system, a specially customized take on the Wear OS that is the “first outside Apple’s own ecosystem to be accredited as ‘MFI’ or ‘Made For iPhone.’” In real-world terms, what this means for iPhone users is an LV Connect app that runs butter-smooth with full functionality, unlike many previous Android apps that both glitch out and/or offer limited functionality for Apple users.
The Tambour Horizon Light Up measures 44mm-wide and 13.2mm-thick with a 1.2-inch screen. The domed edges of the crystal make it seem more compact than it really is, but their true purpose is revealed when the dial is going full kaleidoscopic Blossom-mode, which reaches out to the far ends of the case. The 24 individual LED LV insignias dotting the circumference join the party and visibly heighten the wonderfully ostentatious display. It’s so extra and so much fun that there really isn’t much else like it out there.
It feels very well-finished and succeeds in what is one of the most important tasks for a $3,500-$4,000 smartwatch: it makes me forget (or, more importantly, not care) that this will be obsolete in the future. Just like for buyers of luxury electric cars like Tesla, that pesky inevitability doesn’t really matter. If it’s obsolete in two years, then buy the new one. This is a luxury product with a focus on a travel-heavy lifestyle because that’s the buyer the brand has in mind. There were over 35 million Apple Watches sold in 2021 and there are many popular and competent offerings from Samsung, Garmin, and others out there. Luxury smartwatches like the Tambour Horizon Light Up are for the buyers who, for several possible reasons, don’t want what everyone else has.
In addition to luxury cars, even things like cameras (let alone smartphones) have entered the obsolescence cycle. Buying something like the Leica Q2 will cost you about twice as much as a comparable camera from other brands and will be replaced with the inevitable Q3 in a matter of years. Other than clothing, accessories, and things like mechanical watches, future obsolescence is baked into being a consumer these days. We pay for exclusivity, finish quality, and how a product makes us feel even if it isn’t rational for 95% of the population.
The Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon Light Up battery lasted me about a day, though I kept it on Blossom mode so you could ostensibly stretch it a little longer — I’d recommend charging nightly. The version I wore came in the classic stainless steel case on the leather LV-branded strap with the excellent Louis Vuitton quick-strap change system, which is priced at $3,400. There are several PVD-coated case options that might be preferable for aesthetic or scratch-resistance reasons that are priced higher, at $4,100. You can learn more at louisvuitton.com.