Louis Vuitton's Tambour Street Diver Puts a High-Fashion Spin on Tool Watch Tradition

Jonathan Evans
·2 min read
Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire's column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world since March 2020. This week, we're working with the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie as Media Partner of Watches and Wonders Geneva. Visit Watches and Wonders' website for news and video panels daily, and keep checking back here for all the updates you need to know about.

Watch fiends may love to unpack all the functional details of the tool watches they covet, but if they (myself very much included) are being honest with themselves, there's no getting around the fact that not a whole lot of dive watch lovers actually, you know...dive in them. No judgment here. And none from the team at Louis Vuitton either, it turns out. The maison today launched its latest timepiece, the 44mm Tambour Street Diver, predicated on the idea that for a lot of us, the sidewalk is a far more natural habitat than the sea.

Part of the Tambour line of watches first established in 2002, the Street Diver takes all the functional, tool-y details that have become hallmarks of modern dive watches and passes them through a high-fashion filter. You can dive in it—really!—but the look is primarily tuned to more urban environments. To that end: the colors. You can't miss 'em. A navy steel version is complemented by hits of bright sky blue, while a black steel take gets pops of electric yellow and a pink gold iteration is rendered extra-sleek with a contrasting black dial and strap. Taken together with the indices, coated in heaping doses of Super-LumiNova, the effect is as much art piece as timepiece.

Around the outer ring of the case—one solid piece of metal that's larger at the base than the top, inspired by the shape of a drum—the letters "L-O-U-I-S-V-U-I-T-T-O-N" align with each of the hour markers. At the 1:30 position, a dive crown rotates the internal bezel, which, funny enough, is the kind of ultra-secure dive timer preferred by some serious divers (the idea being that one could accidentally rotate an external bezel). On the Street Diver, the paradoxical effect is to make it look less like a tool watch and more like a modernist piece of industrial design.

The worlds of watch design and fashion design align less closely than one might expect. And while there's certainly something to be said for specializing and staying in your own lane, after nearly two decades, Vuitton's Tambour line shows that there is indeed another way. And as the Street Diver ably demonstrates, Swiss know-how and high-fashion aesthetics make for a pretty potent combination.

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