Louis Vuitton’s Tambour Carpe Diem: A tribute to the Jacquemart of old times


This year, Louis Vuitton has opted for a tribute to the past by incorporating the figure of the jacquemart in its newest model, Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem. Jacquemarts were originally introduced at the end of the 14th century and were installed on church towers. They were conceived as bell-striking automatons, usually as persons or allegorical figures (such as Death) which were meant to strike the hours on a bell with a hammer. As the technical measurement of time progressed, their function became a merely decorative one.

The recently launched model Louis Vuitton Tambour Carpe Diem shows on its display a gold skull enveloped by a twisted serpent and an hourglass on the left. The golden skull was originally known as an allegory of passing time. The message of Carpe Diem – Enjoy the moment – is, however, an optimistic one, directly opposed to the baroque idea of avoiding life’s temptations.

At the heart of the idea lie two masterminds of the watchmaking industry: the engraver Dick Steenman, who devised the hand-made dial with its components (snake, skull, teeth, hourglass), and Anita Porchet, who enameled the dial as well as the main actors of the story, namely the snake and the skull. The fact that the enameling of the serpent and the dial alone took over 50 hours of time speaks volumes about the extremely refined artistry underlying the model.

The way in which the watch tells the time is very ingenious as well. By pressing a push-piece, the figures are put into action, the snake and the skull become jacquemarts. The snake’s head moves to the right side and reveals the hours in the skull’s forehead, whereas its tail swings to point towards the minutes on the left side, which are displayed on a retrograde scale.

As far as the materials are concerned, the watch is made out of 18K pink gold and has a hand-carved crown and pusher. The case of the watch measures 46.8 mm in diameter by 14.42 mm in thickness. Last but not least, the valuable object estimated at around US$475,000 is up to 30 meters waterproof and delivered on a black alligator strap.


Photo and video credits: Louis Vuitton