Louis Vuitton’s Voyager Skeleton is subdued compared to some of its other recent special editions, yet it possesses its own drama. There was the Tambour Opera Automata, with an enameled mask that comes to life on the dial; the Tambour Fiery Heart, with rose, thorn, and heart motifs in bright enamel; and, of course, the Carpe Diem, with a monogrammed gold skull encircled by a snake. The Voyager Skeleton is by comparison, monochromatic and less theatrical—there are no automatons or chimes. Its charm lies in its subtle, masterful details.
As in the watches mentioned above, the movement for the Voyager Skeleton is purpose-built, developed exclusively for this watch, with technology firmly in the service of design. The feat of the Voyager Skeleton is its artful “bones.” The trick to creating openworked calibers is to eliminate just enough of the interior metal to open it up without compromising structural integrity. Its creativity lies in the way that the structure is conceived. In this case, the caliber LV60 echos the architecture of the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, an angular, geometric style that is also reflected in several Louis Vuitton flagship stores.
The structure is a new way to present the Louis Vuitton monogram, which figures prominently in the company’s high-end and more accessible watches—its monogram, after all, is the fashion and lifestyle company’s calling card. The bridges over the rotor at 9 o’clock form the familiar Louis Vuitton initials, and the barrel ratchet wheel over the mainspring at 4 o’clock have been open-worked to spell “Louis Vuitton.” There is another reason the barrel has been open-worked: Revealing the mainspring allows the onlooker to see how tightly wound the watch is at any given moment. If the coils of the mainspring, located at 5 o’clock, are fairly loosely arranged—enough to let the light through—it’s time to wind the watch. The balance wheel and escapement are also on view at 12 o’clock.
Accentuating its complex skeletal features is a monochromatic aesthetic created by the rhodium-plated components of the movement housed within a platinum case. It’s unusual compared to Vuitton’s more recent high-watchmaking spectacles, but no less spectacular. It was designed and developed by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton and manufactured in collaboration with the Neuchâtel-based workshop Le Cercle des Horlogers. It is a limited edition of 150 pieces, priced at $55,000.