The name Ralph Lauren has become synonymous with fashion and in particular his iconic range of Polo shirts. At some point, everyone including myself has sported one of these shirts and the logo is instantly recognised. In modern culture, the brand has raised its profile by outfitting the cast of films like ‘The Great Gatsby’ and Woody Allen’s phenomenal ‘Annie Hall’. In the hit comedy TV series ‘Friends’ Jennifer Anniston’s character Rachel actually works for Ralph Lauren. The legendary designer also makes a cameo appearance on the show. However, most people might be unaware that Ralph Lauren creates exclusive Swiss timepieces including the flagship model called the Automotive Skeleton Steel.
Interesting Ralph Lauren states “the watches I’ve been drawn to represent a passion for design and a respect for tradition and craftsmanship” A lot of fashion houses like Armani, Calvin Klein and Dolce & Gabbana have created watches. Normally these are entry-level quartz models that are licensed by other companies. Probably the most successful of this group is Diesel who have really focused on innovative design. However, Ralph Lauren adopted a different strategy and decided to employ Guillaume Tetu as the Vice President of Global Watches and Fine Jewellery. Guillaume was the CEO and co-founder of Haultence so has an excellent pedigree.
I have recently completed the second edition of my highly successful ‘Luxury Design for Living’ book and decided to include the Automotive Skeleton Steel. In my opinion, it’s the most exciting timepiece within the range and is the epitome of luxury. What makes this timepiece so appealing is the distinctive wooden bezel that is fabricated from Amboyna burl. Interestingly this wood features in the interiors of some of Ralph Lauren’s own vintage cars. Other features include automotive-inspired securing screws that are also inspired by “the rivets securing the chassis of a car.” These details work in perfect harmony with the refined brushed steel skeletonised dial.
Beneath the 44.80mm x 11.20mm steel case is a Swiss mechanical hand-winding movement developed by IWC exclusively for Ralph Lauren. The Caliber RL1967 is skeletonised by Val Fleurier and oscillates at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour. This sophisticated mechanism is visibly showcased through the sapphire crystal exhibition case back. Functionally the Automotive Skeleton Steel features hours, minutes and seconds. The watch also has a power reserve of 45-hours and is water-resistant to a depth of 50-metres. As a perfect finale, the timepiece is presented on a stylish 3-link steel bracelet or a brown alligator leather strap.