Louis Vuitton is one of the most well known and beloved luxury fashion houses in the world. It’s only been making fancy timepieces since 2002, but now it’s jumping into the world of smartwatches with the Tambour Horizon.
This is a luxury smartwatch built for the jet setters. Louis Vuitton is not concerned with fitness or metrics – there’s no heart rate sensor or GPS here. Instead, it wants to be the perfect wrist-based companion for travelling, and when you’re back on terra firma, just looking like a damn fancy smartwatch. The Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon isn’t cheap. It starts at a eye widening, wallet melting, clutch-your-heart-and-gasp . But does that luxury appeal make the price point worth it as one of the best Android Wear watches you can buy? And how does it compare to something like the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 or Montblanc Summit? That’s what we’re here to find out.
The Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon sports a design inspired by Louis Vuitton’s analogue watch, the Tambour Moon. It’s a large 42mm-wide case that’s also pretty thick, lounging at a hefty 12.5mm. It doesn’t look its size though, not until you put it on your wrist – but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The face itself looks like it lacks any sort of bezel, and that’s because the bezel is actually used for something: it’s where the numbers go. It surrounds a 1.2-inch 390 x 390 AMOLED display that – wonderfully – doesn’t have a flat tyre at the bottom. This is a perfect circle, and that helps it blend in with the bezel. Plus, that bezel nicely fits in with LV’s watch faces when they’re in passive mode, since they don’t display numbers. It’s a unique design choice that makes the watch look smaller than it is. The big design inspiration it takes from the Tambour Moon, however, comes from the concave design on the side of the watch. This, too, makes the Tambour Horizon look smaller than it is. Like wearing a well-tapered shirt, it’s slimming in all the right ways. Also, it makes it very comfortable to grab the watch face when you’re swiping across that screen or pressing the digital crown. Speaking of the digital crown, it’s the only physical button on the Tambour Horizon. It’s got a hefty feel to it. The button itself is slightly soft, and it pushes into the crown rather than the entire crown pushing down. It’s a little weird at first, but it also becomes pretty satisfying.
Satisfying is a good word for the Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon. It feels good to wear, almost an antithesis to the Montblanc, though I also must note it doesn’t look or feel too massive on my larger wrist. If you’ve got a smaller wrist, it might feel like it’s swallowing you. The rubber watch band that was provided to me isn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but it also isn’t bad. It certainly looks nice, especially if you like seeing the words “Louis” and “Vuitton” on things. There are 30 other bands you can choose from, however. There isn’t the level of modularity and customisation that the Tag Heuer has though; this feels more like a designed, curated experience. I would be remiss to not mention the extracurriculars of the Tambour Horizon experience. The charger, too, has nods of luxury. There’s a leather buckle on it that you can use to wrap up the cable, which is covered is a knitted material so that it doesn’t get tangled. The massive box that you get with the watch is like a miniature cabinet, with drawers for your charger and these strange leather, LV-adorned key covers to protect/decorate your chargers. Yeah, the Tambour Horizon is so luxury you need protection for your charging cable. A charging cable that is, by the way, slightly strange. It’s a magnetic charging puck, but it’s also very specific about how it is to be used. The only way it’ll charge is if you line it up so the power cord on the puck is in the opposite direction of the digital crown. Even while charging on your nightstand in the middle of the night – unseen by anyone’s judging eyes – your Tambour Horizon must maintain perfect posture, I suppose.
Overall, the Tambour Horizon is a very attractive watch. It’s cleverly designed, with lots of subtle details that other smartwatches could take notes from. More than that, however, it feels good to wear. If great design is all about making a product feel good, then the Tambour Horizon is singing its heart out.There’s no GPS here, or heart rate sensor, or NFC payment support. The Tambour Horizon isn’t interested in anything fitness, and that’s because it only cares about being a luxury accessory as you travel the globe. Thus, the biggest features LV has introduced here are all related to travel.
The two signature features are LV Guide and My Flight. Before you get to use these two, you’ll have to download the LV Link app to connect your Tambour Horizon. This process is supposed to be easy. Your watch displays a QR code, the app has a QR code reader. Except that in practice it’s not that simple – it’s actually a little glitchy. It took me three attempts to connect properly.Once you do get all that set up, and a Louis Vuitton account registered, you can use LV Guide and My Flight. LV Guide is basically a fancy version of Yelp. If you’re in one of seven cities – London, Beijing, Shanghai, Paris, Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo – you’ll get a guide that points you to interesting places to check out. You just open the app in one of those cities and it’ll start guiding you.
My Flight is there to help you get to your flights on time. You email your flight information to a provided email address, which isn’t very convenient, and then on your My Flight watch face it’ll have a running timer for your next action. So around the watch face will be a line that’ll get smaller and smaller as you head toward your boarding time. If you’re on your flight, it’ll get smaller as you head to your destination. It’s a pretty neat, convenient way to get flight information. If you’re a frequent traveller, it’s definitely something that’ll help you tremendously.The more interesting faces are in the My series. They range in design, from a thick stripe down the centre to pasting the LV logo all over the place to adding widgets to get you to your favourite apps quickly. Each of them also comes with a second watch face that activates when your display goes into passive mode. That’s par for the course with Android Wear, but some of them look so good that I wish they were available the whole time. By the way, as noted before, the numbers on these watch faces go away in passive mode, relying on the bezel to tell you the time.
The two standouts of the My line are the My 24 Hours and My Classic. The Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon Classic has two little shapes near the bottom that colour up when you have notifications to check out. It’s a nice, simple way to let you know what’s up. Also, most of the watches have a second hour hand (more like an hour dot or arrow) that lets you keep track of the time in another time zone. So with a quick glance you can not only see what time it is where you are, but at your destination as well.