Style / World of Watches (WOW)

The Louis Vuitton Escale Journeys into the Maison’s Eminence of Trunk Making

Louis Vuitton celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Louis Vuitton Escale with a three-hander iteration, a first in a decade.

Jun 17, 2024 | By Asaph Low

There is a certain element of gamble when new interpretations are given to close and existing associations. Take the flaming Rosso Corsa (English for Racing Red) of Italian marque maker Ferrari, for instance. The iconic shade has dressed some of Enzo Ferrari’s finest racing machines since the 1920s, and understandably, there was quite a stir when the Scuderia Ferrari Formula One team announced and unveiled a blue livery for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz’s cars at the Miami Grand Prix 2024. For Louis Vuitton, mention the Escale and its handpainted Worldtime flag dial or whimsical Spin Time complication come to mind. That is set to change as the French maison presents its latest iteration of the Louis Vuitton Escale, a three-handed watch.

2024 marks the 10th anniversary of the Louis Vuitton Escale, and this novelty will come as a shock to Louis Vuitton’s longtime clients as it is the Escale collection’s first-ever three-hander in a decade. However, the significance of such a release is more symbolic than one could ever imagine. While the Louis Vuitton Escale is steeped in Louis Vuitton’s art of travel philosophy, characterised by the more obvious Worldtime counterparts, this release is an ode to Louis Vuitton’s genesis — trunk making. Consider the three-handed Louis Vuitton Escale, a journey 170 years back to Monsieur Louis Vuitton’s eminence as a trunk maker.

Four models lead Louis Vuitton’s bold voyage into the classical realms of three-handed watchmaking, with the maison’s trunk-making savoir-faire serving as the foundations of the new Louis Vuitton Escale. Cursory glances suggest a simplistic approach, yet such designs are anything but, as summed by the late Steve Jobs, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

The narrative of the new pieces trods the same path as its forerunners; their watch lugs are a continuous allusion to the iconic Louis Vuitton trunks. Born in the hallways of Asnières but reinterpreted on the watchmaking benches of La Fabrique du Temps, Louis Vuitton Escale’s lugs mimic the trunk’s angled form and riveted exterior. The visual code extends to the dial as the four quarter indices are shaped similarly, while gold studs lining the minute track are reminiscent of the lozine nails running along the Louis Vuitton trunk’s exterior.

Aesthetically, the four iterations of the Louis Vuitton Escale are broadly categorised into two categories. Two are clad in a 39mm rose gold case featuring a silver or blue textured, stamped centre dial. The other pair are outfitted in a 39mm platinum case and further ornamented with lavish touches, the first with a meteorite centre dial prized for its extraterrestrial nature and unique striations and the other with an onyx centre with a baguette-cut diamond set bezel and case. Given the vastness of Louis Vuitton’s all-encompassing divisions, other elements of the maison are captured in the Louis Vuitton Escale. A pair of reworked case-colour-matched gold hour and minute hands are shaped like the tapered needles of the maison’s couture and leather goods ateliers. 

Flipping the watch over reveals yet another journey into haute horlogerie, epitomised by the 22k rose gold micro-rotor (a mark of watchmaking pedigree) seen on the automatic calibre LFT023. While the movement is not new, having debuted in the Tambour, its architecture meets modern watchmaking demands, with chronometry certified by the Geneva Observatory and guaranteed with a 50-hour power reserve.

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