The Manual Wind: Ralph Lauren Automotive Chronograph
It is a common misconception that the popularity in watches is on the decline. Smart phones and watches, although far more functional and carried by all, have no shot in replacing the wristwatch. Timeless design, ease of checking the time, and most of all, status, keep the timepiece firmly in place on the wrist. With this sustained and growing popularity there is more motivation than ever to break into this market. Long established fashion brands are taking note.
One example is Ralph Lauren. The iconic designer with one of the most established brands in American history saw great opportunity as well. A few years ago he introduced a line of watches inspired by his famed car collection. His most recent release ahead of SIHH watch show 2015, The Ralph Lauren Automotive Chronograph, shows inspiration from the most famous member of that collection; the 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic coupe.
Measuring a robust 45mm in diameter, this stainless steel Bugatti inspired case exhibits swooping lines at the lugs as well as the pushers. The bezel, secured by six screws, surrounds the multi layered dial meant to give the watch a dash gauge appearance. The matte black dial is recessed below this burl wood ring to add depth and further pronounce this vintage automobile inspiration. Under the dial lies the caliber RL751A/1 automatic chronograph movement. Specially made by Jaeger LeCoultre for Ralph Lauren, this 65 hour power reserve movement inches Ralph Lauren past the other fashion brand watches. This very significant movement choice shows how serious Ralph Lauren is about breaking into the watch world.
With every fashion line trying to cover their loyal followers under their umbrella, the watch game gets more interesting. The likes of Hermes, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and of course Chanel had entered this race years ago. Although they do not hold the clout of some of the more purist brands such as Audemars Piguet and aforementioned Jaeger LeCoultre, their clients do show loyalty when they see quality. Ralph Lauren has made bold moves in both design and movement choice to make a concerted effort to join the ranks and it shows with this latest release.
Priced just below $10,000, I don’t know if I would wear a fashion brand watch, but with the Jaeger LeCoultre movement, it is not out of the realm of possibility.