Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon Lightup review: An expensive but amplified smartwatch

Smartwatches have been touted as new luxury items for the wealthy since Apple’s first versions arrived a few years ago, but sometimes it takes a little polish from a luxury brand to get users to part with a little more cash for a shiny gadget.

Well, at least that’s what Louis Vuitton hopes to do with its latest smartwatch, the Tambour Horizon Lightup, which was just released this month.

There’s certainly no shortage of polish here, from the moment you open the cleverly designed LV box to the moment you strap the watch to your wrist. The pretty box is certainly bigger than the minimalist offerings you’d get from a tech company.

Here, as with some luxury automatic watches, you get nifty drawers and nice little drawstring bags for all the accessories you need – several power adapters, a charger and a power cable that snaps onto your watch to charge it. Don’t worry about having to find your own USB cable or charger.

As for the watch, this is a watch with a 44mm dial, which would usually be too big for my relatively slim wrist (I usually wear 40mm and 42mm watches), but due from its design, the Tambour Horizon doesn’t seem to overwhelm like a large clock hanging from your hand.

The lugs are relatively short and the watch face is an almost full screen that seems to curve around the edges, so there’s no big bezel here that makes the watch look bigger than it looks ballast. I think the watch will suit both men and women, assuming you don’t think the big watch trend is fading.

What’s interesting is that Louis Vuitton didn’t try to turn the Tambour Horizon Lightup into a digital version of a regular automatic watch.

This is undoubtedly a smartwatch with the intelligence engineered into its face, including 24 colourful, black-lit monogram logos that light up and animate when you turn your wrist to view the screen.

For the luxury brand’s asking price, you’ll still get luxury hardware, of course.

the $5,850 the model I had to try for a few days came with sandblasted stainless steel for its case, lugs, and crown, so you still get some heft here. There is also a cost model $4,850 which comes with a shiny polished variety.

On the display, you’ll find sapphire crystal, which helps protect against scratches, which is nice. However, no fancy leather strap here – you get a monogram-filled canvas strap that can be easily swapped out for a new look.

For technical hardware, you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage, which is fine. The 1.2-inch AMOLED touchscreen is also brighter than many rivals, and it has excellent contrast.

Like most other smartphones, you need the Tambour Horizon Lightup to connect to your phone via Bluetooth to get most apps, such as heart rate and step tracking.

Here, interestingly, Louis Vuitton opted out of Google’s Wear OS, which was used in the older Tambour Horizon smartwatch, and opted for its own proprietary OS. It promises to be compatible with Android, Huawei’s HarmonyOS and Apple’s iOS.

You should expect some issues when you take the phone out of the box and pair it with an Android phone, which I did.

Well, I had to go through a few more steps than usual, because the smartwatch hardware and serial number are tied to an LV account that you need to sign up for, and the review unit had already been connected to a previous user.

That meant calling the Louis Vuitton folks here for help resetting things (you can’t just reset the smartwatch itself). In a way, it’s almost an anti-theft feature as well.

Now, what about usage? I would say this is not a watch for more reserved people. The colorful screen and the animation that jumps every time the screen turns on will never fail to attract attention.

The watch itself is pretty basic, but the screen is a blank canvas where you can customize your watch faces and even get original LV content on, say, vacation spots (when we can travel again freely in the future).

To make it easier to get started, there are four user modes on the watch, from one that never hesitates to show colors on the screen to a battery saving mode when you run out of power.

What I like are the easy-to-read notifications, which streamed easily from my phone during my test. All kinds of notifications arrived seamlessly, from a preschool app to WhatsApp and Gmail. It’s convenient because you can take a look and decide whether or not to go to your phone.

You can also control music playback from your Louis Vuitton watch, so you don’t have to reach for your phone in your bag or pocket, for example, on a train when you want to change tracks.

I didn’t have enough time to try out the smartwatch long enough, to be honest. However, for the few days I wore it, I worried about battery drain from the bright, blazing lights that come on every time I flick my wrist to tell the time.

You can tell I’ve been using the power more often than a typical user since I was testing this, but I would still advise users buying this to monitor battery usage, especially with the bright animated dials that are pretty and light standing often.

VIDEO: Alfred Siew

Overall, I liked the watch despite my initial skepticism. The watch face fits well and the screen is user friendly with information sent seamlessly from my phone. It’s easy to use, generally speaking.

And despite the battery drain, I like the colorful LED lights around the display, which some of my watch-collecting friends found too garish when I showed them the smartwatch. I guess tastes vary.

That said, there is no outstanding user feature that would make the Drum Horizon Lightup unique from the rest.

Of course, the monogram itself also sells, with its own claim to value. Ultimately, whether you’re willing to part with around S$5,000 or S$6,000 for this smartwatch largely depends on your preference for the luxury brand.

However, remember that unlike rare luxury bags and automatic watches that sometimes increase in value over time, digital gadgets usually do not. Soon a next version is coming with newer and better features.

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