Louis Vuitton's new $3,300 smartwatch is more chic than geek

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For years, luxury fashion houses have strived to bridge the gap between fashion and consumer technology. Although a number of products from these brands tend to fall into the fashion side of the spectrum rather than the function, their ambitions live on. (Understandably so.)

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This week, Louis Vuitton launched a new consumer tech product in its latest attempt to connect these two worlds. Enter the Tambour Horizon Light Up: a luxurious digital timepiece that takes after the statement-making style of its analog counterpart. This year’s Tambour Horizon is a third-generation connected watch, arriving about five years after the French design house first entered the smartwatch category,

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The stainless steel Tambour Horizon has a 1.2-inch circular display crafted from sapphire glass, which lights up when a notification arrives thanks to 24 LED lights built beneath the so-called Monogram dial ring. This year LV upgraded the processor the Tambour runs on, choosing Qualcomm’s top-of-the-line Snapdragon Wear 4100 platform.

Read more, Louis Vuitton launches UFO-style speaker

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Perhaps the biggest change was made to the smartwatch’s software. Louis Vuitton decided to abandon Wear OS, the Google-made smartwatch system, joining companies like Motorola, Huawei and OnePlus in developing a proprietary operating system. The absence of Wear OS has several implications, including the fact that Tambour Horizon no longer supports Google Pay. Instead, wearers can turn to Alipay, a hugely popular Chinese payment app owned by Jack Ma’s Ant Group.

The to-be-named OS, which is compatible with Android and iOS, has a basic feature set including an alarm, stopwatch, notifications for calls, emails and messages. On the health side, there is heart rate monitoring and a daily step count, served up via the My Day tab. You can also keep track of air quality and weather as well as a travel itinerary or explore LV’s curated city guides in the My Travel section. In terms of personalization, you can select from various watch faces to change the always-on display or even add your own initials in a color or font of your choice. Unfortunately, the watch was unable to pair with the companion app, Louis Vuitton Connect, on either my iPhone 12 Pro Max or my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra so I didn’t get the chance to test these features. A spokeswoman for LV said a software update will be available on Jan. 14.

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Although LV wants to be seen as a more innovative company, this digital timepiece isn’t quite for the average tech consumer due to things such as its limited features coupled with a prohibitive price tag. But LV isn’t necessarily seeking to cater to tech geeks or the average shopper. Instead, the uber-luxe timepiece will likely appeal to big-spending fashionistas looking for a tech fix. After all, this is a haute couture smartwatch from a French heritage brand known for commanding eye-watering prices for its luxurious products. LV is traditionally synonymous with posh designer handbags, but the French label has expanded its portfolio through high-end consumer electronics for several years now. Last year, it launched a portable speaker and prior to that a range of colorful wireless earbuds emblazoned with its signature logo,

The Tambour Horizon Light It Up went on sale worldwide on Friday via Louis Vuitton’s websites and retail stores. In the US, the Tambour Horizon will start at $3,300 for the polished steel model and steps up to $3,600 for the matte black and brown models.

Key Specs

  • Case diameter: 44 millimeters
  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Front and back material: Sapphire glass
  • Display: 1.2-inch AMOLED touch screen
  • Display resolution: 390×390-pixels (327 ppi)
  • Water resistance: Up to 30 meters
  • Battery: Quoted to last for one day
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100
  • Storage: 8GB
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Pedometer
  • optical heart rate sensor
  • Colors: Polished steel, matte brown and matte black

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