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Get Ready for the New Louis Vuitton Smartwatch (The New York Times)

From left, the Tambour Horizon Graphite, Tambour Horizon Monogram, and Tambour Horizon Black. Photo by Louis Vuitton

From left, the Tambour Horizon Graphite, Tambour Horizon Monogram, and Tambour Horizon Black.

Watch details please check Louis Vuitton

Yet another luxury brand has decided to tackle the knotty problem of wearables.

The latest gladiator to take on the challenge is Louis Vuitton, which on Tuesday introduced its first smartwatch, the Tambour Horizon, the newest addition to the Tambour watch family, the signature timepiece the company debuted 15 years ago.

It follows Tag Heuer’s Connected watch, the Apple Watch Hermès and Michael Kors’s Access line (in collaboration with Fossil) in an effort to, according to Michael Burke, chief executive of Louis Vuitton, combat the fact that when it comes to wearable technology, “there’s a lot of ugliness out there.”

“For us,” he said, “the aesthetic is nonnegotiable.”

And, as it turns out, it is also only the beginning of Vuitton’s plans for merging style and technology. Unlike the other fashion brands that have dipped their toes in the high tech waters, Vuitton has designs on connecting many of their products.

“Look, the internet of things is really only going to get bigger,” Mr. Burke said. “You can sit on the sidelines and watch, or dive in and participate and try to influence where things go. We’re diving in.”

The watch is stage one. So is it any good?

Made in conjunction with Google and Qualcomm Technology, with a case made in Switzerland, the Tambour Horizon does what most smartwatches do — it alerts you to your email and texts, counts your steps, has lots of apps — though it does not contain a heart monitor and is not meant to replace the phone. It works with both Apple and Android devices and has a battery life of about a day. Like the Apple watch, it charges when you click on to a magnetic pad, connects to your phone via Bluetooth and also works with Wi-Fi. It comes in three finishes (polished steel, brushed steel and full black), and it has 30 different straps for men and 30 for women, which snap on and off with a satisfying ease.

So far, so not surprising. Anyone who has followed my history with smartwatches, which began when I broke up with my Apple watch, knows that I have a somewhat conflicted relationship with the product category. To me, it seems, largely, to be solving problems that aren’t actually there, and creating new ones. (Like: How do you justify talking to your forearm in a public space?)

But the Vuitton watch is a small step forward in certain areas.

First, the watch face (which can be customized like a handbag in myriad ways — with various dials, with different color stripes, with Vuitton’s monogram, with your monogram), never entirely goes dark. It fades a bit in sleep mode, but unlike, say, the Apple watch, it does not become a black hole when your arm is at rest, thus obviating the need to wave said arm around endlessly to wake it up and so not look like an adult version of a “Star Trek” transporter.

In addition, the Tambour, like the new mechanical Tambour Moon, has a convex side case, which allows maximum face diameter with minimum weight. So even though it’s quite chunky for a watch, it is less chunky than some of its smart peers (42 mm in diameter, as opposed to 46 mm). That said, it still looks like a smartwatch.

Please read the full article on The New York Times.


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