The LVMH group that owns Louis Vuitton also owns a series of watch makers such as TAG Heuer, Bulgari, Zenith, and Hublot. It is arguable that Louis Vuitton as a brand doesn’t need to also make watches – but they do, and for the most part, they are very nicely done. Louis Vuitton’s best watch craft comes from their in-house La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton facility. The brand today makes a small number of watches (comparatively speaking) and they range from everyday models with quartz movements for women to very exotic tourbillon-based timepieces at the uppermost end of the spectrum. Today, we are looking at the new-for-2016 Louis Vuitton Voyager GMT watch collection.
The Louis Vuitton Voyager GMT offers a novel case design which is somewhere between round and cushion-shaped. I haven’t worn it myself yet, but I am curious about how it looks on the wrist. Like the famous Tambour case that Louis Vuitton is known for, this new Voyager case design benefits from being both comfortable-looking and distinctive. It is hard to tell from images alone what it will look like on the wrist, but I’m open-minded and optimistic about it.
I just had to re-write the below paragraph because I initially worte it after reading Louis Vuitton’s materials on the watch – which didn’t even include the proper name of the watch. For that reason you might see this timepiece out there referred to as the “Louis Vuitton GMT” without the Voyager part of the name. What I said is that I almost felt that Louis Vuitton utterly didn’t have watch enthusiasts in mind when coming up with this personality-free name for an otherwise interesting collection if the name was just “Louis Vuitton GMT.” As you likely know, “GMT” is the term for a complication, and it also refers to “Greenwich Mean Time.” GMT is the name typically given to any timepiece which offers a second time zone in 24-hour format. If a watch offers a second time zone in 12-hour format, it is just a “dual time zone” watch, and frankly, brands get this confused a lot.
Yes, it is correct that these watches have a GMT function. With that said, is that enough to give this collection any manner of personality? It would be like calling a new truck the “Ford 4×4.” All that does is explain some of the functionality that the product has – which is functionality shared by others. Louis Vuitton is by no means the only company on the market to make GMT watches, and this isn’t the only GMT watch that Louis Vuitton makes. So knowing that, you can understand why I was irritated to receive documentation that simply called it the GMT. Rather, these watches are the Louis Vuitton Voyager GMT.
The Louis Vuitton Voyager GMT case is 41.5mm wide (water resistant to 50 meters) and available at launch in either a steel case or an 18k pink gold case. You also see three different strap options which include a steel bracelet, textured gray “taurillon” calf leather strap for the steel case, or a blue alligator strap for the 18k pink gold model. I am happy that a bracelet exists. Louis Vuitton offers bracelets on a number of their watches in addition to straps, which is a good sign. Bracelets are difficult to engineer and often work only with particular cases. That means Louis Vuitton puts the effort into making them in order to have a more complete watch design experience – and I approve of that, of course.
The unique shape of the case is due not only to the overall profile, but also in terms of the various angles and curves on the case itself. Where the Voyager GMT watch gets the most controversial is on the dial. This isn’t the first time Louis Vuitton has gotten a little “ambitious” with branding, but here they take it a step further. The indicator arrow that points to the current time on the GMT disc also happens to be a large “V” for Louis Vuitton. You see the V again as the 12 o’clock hour marker, and both “V” markers sandwich the Louis Vuitton logo. The brushed and faceted V shapes themselves look cool, but they are certainly also a powerful part of the dial’s design. Depending on your outlook on conspicuous branding, this is either a good or bad thing.
You also need to remember that Louis Vuitton, for the most part, is not designing watches for the dedicated watch lover community. LVMH already has other brands for that… Instead, Louis Vuitton is trying to create a watch that in form, construction, and functionality will satisfy a watch snob, but that is inherently designed for slightly more mainstream luxury consumption.
Slightly over-powered by the other elements on the dial are the hour and minute hands which resemble the look of Xemex hands. That means a large arrow for the hour hand and a blocky minute hand. I feel that these could have been 30% larger to better fit the proportions of the dial. The GMT disc itself is ergonomic in its design. It is the same concept that Rolex was going for in the Sky-Dweller – but arguably a bit more visually attractive. Much of the GMT disc is exposed, and the disc is given two colors that represent the separation between AM and PM times. The movement focuses just on the local and secondary time zone with no additional indicators such as the date – something that purists (not mainstream consumers) prefer.
Note the comfortable-looking crown that should be a highlight of the design and operation of the watch. Louis Vuitton doesn’t talk too much about the movement inside of the Louis Vuitton Voyager GMT watch, but it is a base Swiss automatic that has likely been modified a bit by Louis Vuitton. The movement operates at 4Hz with 42 hours of power reserve. While we don’t have a picture right now, Louis Vuitton mentions that the Voyager GMT watch has an exhibition caseback and that the movement has a custom “LV”-style automatic rotor.
The steel version of the Louis Vuitton Voyager GMT watch will be available with either a lighter silver-gray dial or a darker anthracite gray dial. The 18k pink gold version comes with a deep blue dial. Even though I am still the biggest fan of Louis Vuitton’s Tambour case design, the ingenuity of the brand is best emphasized in them having a range of interesting cases (which they are increasingly doing). Price for the Louis Vuitton Voyager GMT watch is $6,100 in steel on the strap, $6,500 on the steel bracelet, and $18,700 in 18k pink gold. louisvuitton.com