The U.S.-based fashion brand Ralph Lauren is serious about its attempt to expand its reach beyond expensive clothing and luxury accessories and to become a real watchmaking specialist even though they still can’t afford to make their movements. At the SIHH 2011 trade show, the fashion house has presented its vintage-styled (or, rather, vintage-inspired) Sporting Collection. Featuring a hand-wound “pocket watch” caliber from IWC, it comes in a deliberately oversized case that serves as a (pretty massive, I must note) steel frame for the “historic”, speedometer-styled dial.
Either you keep an eye on the North American fashion industry or are simply in love with pre-war cars, you possibly already know Mr. Lauren as an avid car collector and it won’t be a surprise to find out that the Sporting is inspired by one of his favorite models: the 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe. It features a matte black galvanic dial with matte brown elm burl wood decoration looking like a miniaturized dashboard of a luxury pre-war car.
However, it may be interesting for you to find out that the Caliber RL98295 is essentially the “vintage” IWC Caliber 98300 with a slightly modified exterior finish.
We have already seen the gorgeous caliber in the IWC Pilot Vintage Series revealed about two years ago in early 2009.
Just like the aforementioned “aviator,” the Ralph Lauren Sporting features a small seconds indicator at 6 o’clock and displays eleven Arabic numerals for enhanced readability.
The watch is delivered in a rather large 44.8 mm round case made of brushed and polished stainless steel. A convex sapphire crystal protects the precious dial from the elements while featuring both external and internal anti-reflective coating for better legibility.
A moderately-sized winding crown at 3 o’clock is decorated with an RL monogram.
Starting at $13,200, the RL Sporting is overpriced and, what’s even worse, will probably lose its resale value faster than a ‘real’ IWC model with similar functionality. However, for the money you get what is essentially a limited edition model that is equipped with a good mechanism, features a rather unusual styling, and, well, comes with Ralph Lauren branding that some may find irresistibly appealing. It’s always for you to decide.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Photos: Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren Sporting specification
Price: $13,200 (Retail)
Movement: Caliber RL98295, based on IWC caliber 98300, manual-wind, 156 components including balance wheel with screws and Breguet-style spiral, Swiss Made
Cadence of balance: 18,000 vph
Movement finish: Vertical Cotes de Geneve decor and circular-graining
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Power reserve: 45 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Case size: 44.80 mm
Dial: Matte black galvanic, matte brown elm burl wood decoration
Numerals: Arabic numerals printed in Superluminova
Hands: Steel, shiny black oxidized with a beige luminescent substance
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black calf, black leather lining with a steel pin buckle, polished/brushed