With its new Ralph Lauren Automotive Flying Tourbillon (ref. RLR0220707) automatic wristwatch, the American fashion house effectively mixes its fairly recent RL67 Tourbillon Safari model with the Ralph Lauren Sporting device that was introduced almost three years ago. The result is pretty inspiring.
If you compare the two earlier models that supplied their genes for this ahem daring experiment in mechanical genetics, you will immediately see that the new Ralph Lauren Automotive Flying Tourbillon sports best features of its parents and, as it rarely happens during such experiments, actually looks better than its mom and dad.
While the aforementioned RL67 Tourbillon looked too technical and the Sporting was just plain archaic, this particular timekeeper successfully mixes the same 45 mm black shot-blasted stainless steel body of the former with an unusual dial design of the latter that nicely mixes wood (or, more likely, a thin sheet of wooden veneer similar to those used for making dashboards in expensive cars) and vintage-looking dial design, which is inspired by instrument gauges and mechanical clocks that were installed in 1930-era cars.
By the way, while the size of this thing makes it quite a long way away from a normal wristwatch of the era, the idea behind the choice of proportions seems more or less plausible to yours truly.
You see, back in the 1930s, there was a whole plethora of aviator’s timepieces that were actually repurposed pocket watches (actually, that’s how the legendary Portuguese by IWC was created: a couple of guys from Portugal dropped their pocket instruments at the shop to have them converted to wristwatches): wearing the devices atop of their bomber jackets, pilots of the time weren’t worried a slightest bit whether the time measuring device will look too big on them or not. All that was needed from the gadget was to get the job done: it was a tool, not a personal statement, you know.
Although this new Automotive Flying Tourbillon doesn’t really look like a classic pilot’s timekeeper, it would still fine on a wrist of a time traveler who would find himself somewhere in the middle of the decade.
The hour and minute hands are now covered with Superluminova that has its color matched to beige hour markers and Arabic numerals, while the numerals themselves are now a lot larger with the huge “12” looking like a real Godzilla.
This was probably done to visually balance out the oversized flying tourbillon module that is visible through a circular cutout at 6 hours, although I really don’t know why they needed to “balance” such a beautiful work of art that looks simple and, at the same time, is so high-tech.
As usual, Ralph Lauren doesn’t want to give out the name the caliber that powers their new watch modestly calling it RL167 and saying that it was supplied for them by Richemont. I can’t prove it at the moment, but something keeps telling me that the actual maker of the mechanism is either Piaget or Jaeger-LeCoultre. (Update from the year of 2018: the mechanism is manufactured by La Fabrique du Temps: a relatively new production facility of Louis Vuitton, another ultra-luxury fashion brand that is gradually becoming a serious watchmaking brand.)
As for the price, the fashion house sells its RL67 Tourbillon Safari for impressive $55,000 (frankly, I am not really sure that the timekeeper’s value is equal to its price), so this model will possibly be a trifle more expensive just because its dial takes longer to make.
Photos: Ralph Lauren
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 5/5
Value for Money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Ralph Lauren Automotive Flying Tourbillon Automatic (ref. RLR0220707) watch specification
Price: €75,500 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Ralph Lauren caliber RL167, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 28
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 40 hours
Movement decoration: No data
Functions: Hours, minutes, flying tourbillon
Case material: Stainless steel, black, shot blasted
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 44.80 mm
Case height: 11.20 mm
Lug width: No data
Dial: Black, wooden inlay
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Natural black leather strap
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire