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From JustLuxe content partner iW Magazine

Louis Vuitton presents three highly artisanal Louis Vuitton Escale watches, each combining engraving, enameling, sculpture, and even marquetry in timepieces that explore themes inspired by nature and fantasy.

One of three debuts announcing the Louis Vuitton Escale series of artisans watches. The watch is called Louis Vuitton Escale Cabinet of Wonders Koi’s Garden.

The new Escale series follows Louis Vuitton’s equally ambitious update to its Tambour collection and represents a new, high-end approach to the watchmaker’s artisanal watches.  Escale watches will all feature a round case and hand-polished case horns meant to recall the metal brackets of Louis Vuitton trunks. 

Called the Cabinet of Wonders, the trio of limited-edition watches that introduce Escale are inspired by the personal collections of Gaston-Louis Vuitton, a third-generation member of the company’s founding family who led it from 1907 to 1970. 

Gaston-Louis Vuitton was a collector of fine decorative objects, including antique and highly decorated Japanese katana sword guards, which directly influenced the design and symbolism of these new watches.

By combining a full range of artisanal case-making and dial-making techniques with these watches, Louis Vuitton continues to enhance its reputation as one of the few makers of high-end watches that has mastered a full range of traditional decorative techniques. 

Louis Vuitton’s fine watchmaking department in Geneva, La Fabrique du Temps, creates this series through a well-considered blend of internal expertise and external talent, including Eddy Jaquet (engraving), Fanny Queloz (damascening), Rose Saneuil (marquetry) and Vanessa Lecci (enameling). The internal and external team followed the aesthetic vision of famed métiers d’art timepiece designer Marie Boutteçon.

Garden of tranquillity

This watch, called Louis Vuitton Escale Cabinet of Wonders Koi’s Garden, is a 40mm white gold stunner that depicts two carp swimming in a stream, surrounded by colorful pebbles. 

Louis Vuitton notes that its artisans needed 150 hours to carefully hand-sculpt the koi. Kiln-firing added a fine layer of dark oxide to the carp while polishing and painting finished the overall effect. The koi are coated with a translucent blue lacquer to make them glisten in the light.

Artisans hand-engraved the water lines onto the white-gold dial plate, where Gaston-Louis Vuitton’s monogram is seen at the 6 o’clock position, also sculpted from gold and set with onyx.

Into the forest

On the Louis Vuitton Escale Cabinet of Wonders Snake’s Jungle, a jeweled blue and green snake rears its head at an orb of gold and nephrite jade that forms the monogram of Gaston-Louis Vuitton.

The dial’s bamboo forest is made using marquetry techniques. These required the artisan to cut and hand-assemble wood, parchment, and straw in a way that depicts fourteen shades of green.

The artists required 367 individual pieces to complete the dial puzzle, which utilizes four varieties of wood, three colors of straw, and two types of parchment.

For the serpent, artisans combined three techniques: micro-sculpture, engraving, and champlevé enameling. Sculpted, engraved, and enameled bamboo leavesframe the upper right corner of the dial.

Dragons

For this watch, called the Louis Vuitton Escale Cabinet of Wonders Dragon’s Cloud, artisans have created a rose gold triptyque depicting clutching a carnelian-set GLV monogram.

Here, the artisans used a technique called damascening, a form of decorative inlay using metals of contrasting colors. The resulting layered pattern mimics many natural textures.

The watch’s dial plate is hammered to a matte finish, after which yellow-gold or rose-gold wires are cold-worked into the plate. The dragon and the clouds are engraved, and the scales are enameled.

Notably, the lower half of its body is created using paillonné enamel. This rare form contains tiny pieces of gold leaf (known as paillons) suspended between layers of translucent enamel.

Finally, the dragon’s eye appears to glow because it is composed of a cabochon-cut ruby.

New cases & hands

All the new Escale watches feature a new, lightly curved case that frames a domed crystal. Louis Vuitton has reworked its hour and minute hands, which are now lance-shaped, polished, and faceted to reflect light.

All three watches also feature a crown set with the same stone that adorns the corresponding GLV monogram on its dial. Inside Louis Vuitton fits its chronometer-rated manufacture caliber LFT023, decorated with Seigaiha waves, a stylized representation of the ocean in traditional Japanese iconography.

Each new Louis Vuitton Escale watch is paired with a calf-leather strap, hand-braided to resemble the braided leather hilts of Japanese katana swords.

Each of the three models of the Louis Vuitton Escale Cabinet of Wonders collection is limited to twenty pieces. The Koi’s Garden comes in a white-gold case (40mm) with a blue strap; the Snake’s Jungle comes in a white-gold case (40mm) with a green strap; and the Dragon’s Cloud comes in a rose-gold case (40mm) with a brown strap. 

Prices upon request. 

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