Although most associate Ralph Lauren with apparel and fragrances, the New York City designer fashion label has offered watches since 2009. Rather than offering the inexpensive quartz-powered fashion watches typical among designer labels, the company offers luxury mechanical timepieces.
These use high-end movements from Richemont brands such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC and Cartier. Because of its combination of high-end movements and designer fashion style, this brand occupies a unique niche.
The brand may be relatively young, but its collections go for a classic look and feel. Overall, 1930s-inspired design paired with leather, jungle hardwoods, dark greens, blues and blacks conjure vintage automobiles and tobacco-perfumed lounges.
This seeks to match the timepieces not only with the company’s fashion aesthetic, but with a gentleman’s lifestyle. For instance, they draw inspiration from luxury automobiles, horseback riding, sailing, big game hunting and other such masculine undertakings.
Images: Ralph Lauren
"Ambitious Designer Watchmaking!" Ralph Lauren watches aim high with retro styling and high-quality mechanics inside.
Ralph Lauren may be new on the watch scene, but the company boldly entered the scene with high-end watches. The iconic designer works with some of his favorite watchmakers to create his ambitious collections
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Rise Of An American Designer Giant
Though now represented in every niche of men’s fashion, Ralph Lauren himself got his start with ties. In fact, when his fashion career began, it was almost by chance.
In 1964, Lauren was completing his Army basic training, and nearly went to Vietnam, but he sustained a leg injury. It was serious enough for a discharge, and he returned home.
Once back home, he took Baruch College business classes, selling ties to fellow students, and worked at various menswear retailers. Ralph was keenly observant when it came to fashion, and others could not ignore this.
Therefore, in 1967, he was ready to launch his first Ralph Lauren tie collection. He started this with help from his employers at Beau Brummell.
Afterwards, obtaining a $30,000 business loan, he expanded in 1968 with the visionary Polo line, his full menswear collection. Soon, his tantalizing synthesis of retro-dignified Interwar English aesthetics with frank Americana proved a show-stopper.
Ralph Gets Into Time: First Watches
During the next few decades, the brand became an influential international trendsetter. Ralph himself came to love watches, therefore, he looked to expanding into his own timepieces in the 2000s.
Since 2004, Ralph Lauren has partnered with Richemont to create watches in Ralph’s inimitable style.
Watches are important to Ralph, therefore the development took enough time to arrive at a look he was happy with. Finally, in 2009, the Stirrup, Slim Classique and Sporting Collection watches made their debut at the watch show SIHH.
Ralph Lauren watches use movements from Richemont’s high-end manufactures like Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier and IWC. Besides these reputable names, Richemont’s behind-the-scenes movements-only manufacturer Val Fleurier supplies movements for some watches.
A Wealth Of Influences
The movements within these watches may come from Richemont’s well-established brands, but the design is classic Ralph Lauren. Consistent with the brand’s influences, modern haute horlogerie blends with Art Deco elements, equestrian imagery and 1920s & 1930s automobiles.
Lines like the Stirrup and the 867 Tuxedo, for example, seem an intersection between 1920s ballrooms and spirited horseback adventure. Specifically, elegant rectangular cases mix with the buckles, stirrups and saddles of a polo match or open-range Western adventure.
Automotive-themed watches take cues from the founder’s personal collection, especially his 1930s-era Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe. This luxury car exudes class in its unmistakable curved contours, therefore the brand’s first Automotive Watches seek to emulate it.
The black curving lugs, black leather strap and hardwood bezel in the Automotive Skeleton reference this car, for example. The most striking outer component is perhaps the amboyna burlwood bezel set against black, analogous to the hardwood steering wheel.
Meanwhile, the intricate skeletonized Val Fleurier automatic movement inside serves as the counterpart to the finely-tuned engine of Ralph’s Bugatti.
The Safari series, on the other hand, goes for a rugged 1940s-to-1960s style. These watches use straps and cases with weathered appearances together with khaki tones rather than white.
These color and design decisions suggest an explorer’s watch beaten by harsh savanna sunlight during long excursions. Variants are also available with 1960s-era jungle camouflage.
Learn More About Ralph Lauren Watches
Beginning with his original polo player imagery, Ralph Lauren’s designs bring with them a romantic narrative of adventure and refinement. His brand’s timepieces also contribute a personal touch, with references to his own watch and automobile collections.
Watches are a prevailing personal interest of Ralph Lauren himself, therefore this brand won’t easily fade away. Rather, its visual identity will continue to evolve, while taking cues from Ralph’s various inspirations.
These watches allow him to combine the time-honored craftsmanship of his favorite watch brands with his own discerning designer’s eye. You can find information on his brand’s timepieces on the official site.
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