Francesca Amfitheatrof designs a jewel watch for Louis Vuitton

During the high jewelry presentations in Paris in January, Louis Vuitton quietly introduced a novelty: the first jewelry watch by Francesca Amfitheatrof, who became the brand’s artistic director of jewelry and watches in 2018.

Named Mini Malle, it was exhibited at the Louis Vuitton flagship store in Place Vendôme as part of the second chapter of a collection called Bravery, designed around the life story of the house’s founder, Louis Vuitton. August 2021 marked the 200th anniversary of his birth.

The timepiece belongs to the five-piece Mini Malle set, a group that Ms. Amfitheatrof says is inspired by the handbag called the Petite Malle, or small trunk, introduced in 2014.

The watch has revisited in white gold and diamonds certain trunk details of the bag, such as the corner pieces, the hinges and the domed studs. Its 16.3 millimeter square case houses a quartz movement from La Fabrique du Temps, the brand’s factory, and is mounted on a square-link chain bracelet; the piece is set with 617 brilliant, baguette, square and bespoke cut diamonds.

Though tiny, if not understated, compared to flashier pieces in the collection like the Multipin necklace, a buckle set with more than 100 colored gemstones, the piece marks the first time Louis Vuitton has openly positioned fine jewelry as unisex.

In a phone interview, Ms Amfitheatrof said she wanted her first jewelry watch for Vuitton to be small and free-flowing, in part because she noticed men were wearing more watches that would have been labeled as women in the past.

“There were so many huge watches, I felt a little tired,” she said. “I always follow my instincts about what people want to wear, and I feel like those proportions are a little more balanced. There’s an openness.”

The other pieces of the Mini Malle set include a long necklace set with diamonds that can be transformed into a choker and two bracelets, and a signet ring with diamond marquetry and a central Monogram LV star-cut diamond.

The watch, which the designer says took more than 550 hours to produce, is priced at 400,000 euros ($454,600). Unlike many fine jewelry creations, which are usually unique, the brand said the watch could be replicated or even tailored to a customer’s specifications.

Ms Amfitheatrof added that the integration of jewelry watches into Louis Vuitton’s high jewelry collection opened up a product category with “a new story” that would complement the very complicated mechanisms developed by Louis Vuitton’s watch division.

“It’s all come together so we can create unique things,” she said.

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