The U.S.-based fashion brand Ralph Lauren seems to be quite serious about its attempt to expand its reach beyond expensive clothing and luxury accessories and to actually become an actual watchmaking specialist even though they still can’t afford making their own movements. At the upcoming SIHH 2011 trade show, the fashion house is going to present its vintage-styled (or, rather, vintage-inspired) Ralph Lauren Sporting hand-wound wristwatch. Featuring a manually wound “pocket watch” caliber from the reputable Swiss watchmaker IWC, the watch is offered in a deliberately oversized case that serves as a (pretty massive, I must note) steel frame for the “historic”, speedometer-styled dial of the piece.
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 watch 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 that powers the watch is essentially the “vintage” IWC F.A. Jones Caliber 98300 manual-wind movement with slightly modified decor.
We have already seen the gorgeous engine in the IWC Pilot’s Watch Vintage Series revealed two years ago.
Just like the aforementioned aviator watch, the new 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. Its precious dial is protected from the elements with a convex sapphire crystal with both external and internal anti-reflective coating.
A moderately-sized winding crown at 3 o’clock is decorated with RL monogram.
Starting at $13,200, the RL Sporting seems to be really overpriced and, what’s even worth, 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 by 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 hand-wound watch 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 perlage
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Power reserve: 45 hours
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Stainless steel
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 44.80 mm
Case height: No data
Dial: Matte black galvanic, matte brown elm burl wood decoration
Numerals: Arabic numerals printed in lume
Hands: Steel, shiny black oxidized with beige luminescent substance
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Black calf, black leather lining with steel pin buckle, polished/brushed
Case back: Sapphire