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Words: Katherine S. Cunanan I Photos: Carl S. Cunanan and Press

Louis Vuitton Escale: Elegance in time

Bridging the gap between technical innovation and timeless elegance.

In a wonderful example of how quickly the right brands respond to the modern world and its demands, Louis Vuitton launched their new Escale watches in Paris and had the pieces available for friends and friends of the brand immediately. This is extremely good because the new Escale is an excellent indicator of how the company is setting themselves for the watchmaking future.

What a future it is for them. Jean Arnault, at the head of watchmaking for the brand, has taken the bold and well-received steps towards focusing the horological offerings of the maison. Louis Vuitton has made some breathtaking and indeed award-winning timepieces as judged by the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, and the new Escale shows how they will be making these pieces more elegant and usable than ever while still heralding the savoir-faire for which the name is known.

The new Escale is subdued and elegant on the wrist. It is a very classic three-hand watch powered by their own wonderfully-finished movement that was first launched last year with the new Tambour line. While the Tambour line is more sporty with its integrated metal bracelets, the Escale is precious metal on leather with a very detailed yet clean face.

The whole watch has details from the heritage of the brand, and indeed inspired by pieces from the collection of Gaston-Louis Vuitton, third-generation patriarch of the founding family. But descriptions and even photos don’t do the watches justice.

The watch dial is very nicely domed, and constructed with multiple pieces with different looks and textures and even processes. The center area on some of the watches is stamped and brings to mind the texture of LV canvas, while the outer dial has a gold stud minute ring with the quarter sectors of 12, 3, 6 and 9 in a longer and specially shaped index that are inspired by the details of their classic trunks. But nothing is clunky or large, it is all clean and elegant. Even the branding is minimal, with the Louis Vuitton and Paris lettering simple and acting as a detail on the dial. When seen on the right wrist by others, it will look like an elegant piece with interesting texture and a subtle flash of color. When seen on your own wrist, you will see the details such as the beveling of the indices and the slight curve at the tip of the titanium second hand, against the finely finished gold minute hand and hour hand, frames by the white (rather creamy perhaps) or blue texture of the center dial and the gold 39mm cases.

Or Meteorite and titanium. A very interesting piece here is the platinum cased watch with a meteorite dial. Again, to the wearer it will look wonderful up close but across a room it will be an enchanting texture. Very interesting to note is that most meteorite dial watches are used on sportier designs or on more complicated watches. Having the Gibeon meteorite on a classic three-hand wristwatch really provides a great look at the detail and nuance of the very interesting choice.

The new Escale takes advantage of the wealth of expertise, experience, and passion that watchmakers Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini brought with them when Louis Vuitton had the foresight over a decade ago to support and take in these brilliant artists and their organization. La Fabrique Du Temps Louis Vuitton designed, conceived, and encased the new LFT023 movement. It is an automatic 30.6mm movement with a gold micro-rotor that allows better viewing of the fine finishing with the sapphire crystal caseback. The triangle-looking finishing on the micro-rotor actually shows LV, and behind it is silver-colored circular graining. It is a COSC certified movement with 50 hours of power reserve.

Louis Vuitton has brought to the watchmaking world exactly what Messrs. Navas and Barbasini spoke of over a decade ago. The foresight to see the need to protect and grow the artistry and passion and talent that has propelled horological interest to new heights. They can combine the independent spirit of small watchmakers but nestle them within an environment that allows them to explore, expand, and find new appreciation for true mastery of the artistic and technical that fine watchmaking has always demanded. All while creating pieces that fall within the aesthetic and emotional world that is encased if not created by Louis Vuitton.

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