Time Turner: The Louis Vuitton Tambour Spin Time Regate

The regatta timer is an uncommon complication, and with good reason: it serves a purpose so specific, and in such a rarefied environment, that very few of us even have an opportunity to see one, much less use one. Louis Vuitton, however, has created a regatta watch so delightfully different that it’s deserving of a place on the wrist of anyone capable of being charmed by mechanical ingenuity.

A little review for the non-yachtsmen among us: a regatta watch is designed to count down the critical minutes preceding the start of an actual yacht race. This interval–which can vary depending on the structure of the particular race, but which is often five minutes–is perhaps even more important than anything that happens once the starting gun actually goes off. It is during this five-minute period that yachts jockey for position near the starting line. A yacht, obviously, is not a racecar; it can’t sit still at the starting line until the beginning of the race, but must instead tack up and down as close to the starting line as possible without actually crossing it (which incurs a penalty) or colliding with another yacht. So critical are the minutes between the firing of the warning gun, which starts the countdown, and the firing of the starting gun, which commences the actual race, that in many cases the yacht that is first across the starting line is the one that’s first to cross the finish line as well.

Louis Vuitton has taken a remarkable approach in the design of the Tambour Spin Time Regate: the watch uses the rotating time cube design first used in its time-only “Spin Time” watch, in which revolving cubes placed around the circumference of the dial show the current hour. The Spin Time Regate uses five rotating cubes which, when the regatta countdown function is activated, turn from blue to red with each passing minute until the five-minute countdown has elapsed. The blue and red motif is colorfully decorative, cheerfully nautical and extremely legible.

The Spin Time Regate can also function as a conventional chronograph for timing non-nautical intervals of interest, and when the function-switching button is pushed, the “chrono” indication in the aperture at 12:00 is replaced by “Regate” showing the watch is in regatta timing mode. At the same time, the chronograph minute counter moves to the beginning of the five minute red sector in the counter, so that when the race actually starts, the chronograph shows actual elapsed race time accurately and automatically.

Whether you’ve got a tall ship and a star to sail her by, or just like to dream of one, the Spin Time Regate is both a practical yachtsman’s tool and a delightfully different time machine.

The Louis Vuitton Spin Time Regatta is offered in a 45.5 white gold case, with chronograph and regatta timer functions.  Inside is the self-winding LV 156 calibre by La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton.

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