Louis Vuitton has been a partner of the America’s Cup, the oldest sporting competition in the world, since 1983, when the brand first lent its name to the Louis Vuitton Cup, the series to determine the America’s Cup challenger. After a dispute with the winning Alinghi team from Switzerland in 2007 (the winner is responsible for organising the next competition), Louis Vuitton withdrew its support. Between 2007 and 2010 there were therefore no qualification series and it was only in 2010, after the victory of BMW Oracle Racing, that Louis Vuitton returned to the competition. The brand is now an official partner of the America’s Cup World Series to prepare challengers for the Louis Vuitton Cup in San Francisco in 2013, thirty years after the first edition in Newport, Rhode Island. The winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup will then challenge the defender in the 2013 America’s Cup.
It was at the final race of the America’s Cup World Series in 2011, in San Diego, that Louis Vuitton unveiled its new limited-edition Tambour models dedicated to the America’s Cup, the Tambour Regatta Automatic America’s Cup and the Tambour Regatta Quartz America’s Cup. Both models are equipped with the countdown functions that are essential for a skipper to time his start in a regatta, where timing is crucial given that a yacht must pass the starting line as soon as possible after the cannon is fired, but not before, which incurs a penalty.
Tambour Regatta Automatic America’s Cup
Limited edition of 720 numbered pieces. Extra-large 44 mm Tambour case. Rubber-coated steel case with matching black rubber strap. Anti-reflective sapphire crystal. Self-winding LV 171 movement with Dubois Dépraz complication exclusive to Louis Vuitton. 5-minute flyback regatta countdown function. Water resistant to 100 metres.
Tambour Regatta Quartz America’s Cup
Limited edition of 1851 numbered pieces. Extra-large 44 mm Tambour case. Rubber-coated steel case with matching black rubber strap. Anti-reflective sapphire crystal. ISA 8270 quartz movement. Programmable 1-10 minute regatta countdown timer with alarm. Water resistant to 100 metres.
Although a quartz version of this model is available, such calibres could soon become a thing of the past at the brand, as Hamdi Chatti, Vice-President of Louis Vuitton Watches and Jewellery, admitted to Europa Star, “Our strategy is to move towards mechanical watches and mechanical functionality. Having said that, we have a lot of customers who ask for quartz but this number is decreasing so in a couple of years from now I think we will move to 100 per cent mechanical.”
Like all Louis Vuitton timepieces, the new models will be sold exclusively through the Louis Vuitton worldwide distribution network. “We have 460 stores worldwide,” says Chatti, “and we have watches present in 220 of these, which is just under 50 per cent of the network.”
The models will be available from early this year and the America’s Cup will be taking place in San Francisco in 2013. In the meantime, Hamdi Chatti promises further innovations in terms of function and spirit in Louis Vuitton timepieces for BaselWorld 2012 while maintaining the iconic Tambour case.
Source: Europa Star February - March 2012 Magazine Issue