The Escale Worldtime presented by Louis Vuitton at Baselworld last year was notable for its absence of hands. The synchronized world time could nevertheless be read at a glance against a pointer at 12 o’clock, with three concentric rotating discs ensuring that each of the 24 time zones visible around the dial was constantly displaying the correct time.
The uniqueness of the dial on this model is beyond doubt, but the work that goes into the colourful dial is less apparent. As is often the case with such miniature works of art, neither a painting nor a video can do justice to the craftsman’s skill. Only a first-hand visit to the Louis Vuitton watchmaking manufacture, which was inaugurated in Geneva last year, can illustrate the painstaking level of detail involved in hand-painting each of the time zone city initials and the vibrant symbols that accompany them. This also explains why so very few of the white-gold Escale Worldtime models have been produced – painting the dial alone requires over 40 hours of work!
Fresh for Baselworld 2015, Louis Vuitton addresses presents this travel-themed look in a new form that makes the Escale model much more accessible. A steel case, a revised movement and a more manageable means of reproducing the colourful dial will mean that more of the brand’s 460 stores worldwide will be able to showcase this piece.
In the new Escale Time Zone, the display looks similar but is based on a traditional GMT function, rather than a synchronized world time model. Instead of three discs, there are now two, which the wearer can set to the time zone in a particular city using the crown. The two outer rings featuring the cities corresponding to the world’s 24 time zones and their colourful symbols are maintained but in this case are pad printed by hand rather than individually hand-painted. The local time is shown in a more familiar manner by means of centrally-placed hour disc and minute hand, whose axis is covered by a striated black disc bearing the sober brand and model name, in keeping with the design of the Escale World Time model.
The LV 87 self-winding calibre from the Manufacture La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton is both smaller and thinner than the LV 106 used in the World Time model and thus allows for a smaller 39mm diameter case that is 1.5mm thinner. With less than half the components in the Worldtime model the LV 87 is also significantly less complex and offers an improved power reserve of 42 hours.
Despite their differences, the Escale Worldtime and the Escale Time Zone models share the same unique identity that makes them instantly recognisable as Louis Vuitton’s translation of its passion for the world of travel into contemporary watchmaking codes.