Thursday, December 16, 2004


Time is money

Vuitton’s $200,000 watch is for
the person who has everything

OK, those who have worked and earned yourselves into the stratosphere: Now you have everything, which means no one can afford to get you a Christmas present without looking cheap. So, it looks like you're going to have to buy your own gift to yourself.

Louis Vuitton's Tourbillon Tambour watch is shown in 18K pink gold with a stingray strap.

If you're casting about for a watch, dare we suggest the Louis Vuitton Tourbillon Tambour Monogram watch, every element of which is crafted by hand.

Albert Bensoussan, director of watches and jewelry, visited from LVMH Paris for last month's "Red Party" at Ala Moana Center to introduce the watch, which takes a dozen people six to eight months to create.

Such watches are prized by collectors who can appreciate the art of watchmaking as it was done in the 18th and 19th centuries, before the age of batteries, electricity, quartz movements and electronic wizardry.

The watches can be customized with elements cast in a choice of precious metals: white, pink or yellow gold, or platinum.

The LV logo on the watch face -- which includes the playful Takashi Murakami motif of Vuitton handbags designed by Marc Jacobs -- can be replaced with one's initials and set with one's choice of favorite precious stones.

"There is no limit to the imagination of the customer," said Bensoussan, whose expertise comes from having spent 20 years at Cartier, and who believes that in this age when everyone wants to be a designer, personalization is the way of the future.

"The idea is to do with watches what we do with our monogrammed trunks. Everything is personal. We can do anything using client specifications."

He said he's had requests for 60 diamonds -- one for each minute -- blanketing the face of the watch, and another client wanted to replace the VL with a Chinese character.

All such options are included with the price of $200,000, and each watch is presented in a foot-long Louis Vuitton trunk in one's choice of signature LV leathers.

How exclusive is the watch? Asked how many people in the world are wearing the Tourbillon Tambour, Bensoussan divulges, "More than 10 and less than 50."

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