In the workshop of… – La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, daring on a human scale – GMT Magazine – WorldTempus

Whether customer or journalist, visitors who arrive at the Fabrique du Temps are stunned: first at the reception by the scenography as impressive as cheerful in this white building of 4000 m2, then by the variety and know-how of the professions that work there in perfect symbiosis: dial makers, engineers, watchmakers, miniaturists, not to mention enamel, engraving and gem setting with external partners. Louis Vuitton celebrates its 20th anniversary in watchmaking this year, more than half of it after joining Fabrique du Temps in 2011, founded in 2007 by Michel Navas and Enrico Barbasini.

Michael Navis ©Louis Vuitton

The desire and vision of these two watchmaking entrepreneurs initially consisted of carrying out fine work in a unit on a human scale after a career in the large traditional houses. A few watchmakers and builders around a workshop, thousands of ideas and projects carried out for a dozen brands including Louis Vuitton for which they designed the Spin Time. The display of time on rotating dice was so innovative and unexpected for Louis Vuitton that it became a huge success. So much so that, to their great astonishment, the two enthusiasts were invited to join the world’s leading luxury manufacturer. A brief consultation between them led them to embark on the Louis Vuitton odyssey: “It is a serious house, known and recognized in other fields, respecting our original philosophy, the potential was fabulous”, comments Michel Navas. In the course of this acquisition, Louis Vuitton also bought the Léman Cadrans company, relocated its production unit from La Chaux-de-Fonds and in 2014 brought everyone together under the brand new roof of this manufacture, ie almost 60 employees. “Today we are around a hundred, but for me it stays human, we remain as creative and free as ever and always bring with us a fine watchmaking skill that differs from that of our peers. »

La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, daring on a human scale

The workshop ©Louis Vuitton

World premieres and GPHG doubles

“We are making our handicap as a young watch house a strength compared to these secular brands we have previously worked with because we can afford daring like Spin Time that would be unthinkable in these big traditional houses; it would be too disruptive,” says Michel Navas. By trying to evolve as much as possible in the world of travel, their teams strive to bring something new to the display or function, which is reflected in their first minute repeater, which beat home time as a world first. Rebelotte with the Tambour Twin Chrono in 2013, a mono-pusher bi-chronograph with a patented differential display capable of measuring the race time of two boats in a match race on two counters, as well as the difference between the two race times of the two boats in match racing at noon on the counter.

La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, daring on a human scale

design design ©Louis Vuitton

“Our challenge for the years to come is to continue to surprise, as with the Tambour Carpe Diem, which won the Prix de l’Audace at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in 2021. We managed to show how far we can go the complexity, known for six years by some contract clients who preferred to remain discreet on this subject. The magnitude of the phenomenon is forcing us to stop selling,” explains Michel Navas.

La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton, daring on a human scale

Drum Carpe Diem ©Louis Vuitton

The strength of this Manufacture, which is not quite like the others, also lies in its dual culture, the watchmaking artistry of its founders, the design of the world’s leading luxury brand Louis Vuitton. The aesthetic codes of pieces like the Tambour or the Escale are very progressive, nourished by details from a brand universe as rich as it is sharp, bringing differentiation. So “when we developed the Escale Worldtime, it came from the technical office in a very classic way. But when she returned from the design department in Paris, she was dramatically changed and had enormous success. That promises for the next twenty years.

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