Stage 1: show who you are. Stage 2: show what you can do. Third stage: establish and broaden your ranges. Here in a nutshell is the path followed by Ralph Lauren’s watchmaking wing over the past few years.
The watch brand was launched in 2009. Its presence a few months later in one of the industry’s most prestigious shows, the SIHH, alongside centuries-old institutional brands, aroused a certain degree of interest mingled with circumspection. As of 2012, however, Ralph Lauren began showing its creativity by introducing tourbillons created by La Fabrique du Temps.
Having thus asserted its ambitions, the American brand of which the watchmaking branch is an equally owned joined venture with the Richemont Group, opted to make its ranges accessible to a broad public. This led to the success of the two best-selling models of 2013: the Stirrup Steel Link (including a Small quartz model priced at 1,990 euros) for women, and the Chrono 45 mm (Safari RL67 model driven a mechanical movement with a 2,590 euro tag) for men. This opened the door for the public at large to a Ralph Lauren watch world stretching right the way through to models equipped with horological complications as well as gem-set creations.
A flying tourbillon... inspired by Bugatti
In 2014, Ralph Lauren will be bearing in mind its youthful stature in the watch business and the thus the need to consolidate its horological reputation. In a few weeks’ time at the SIHH 2014, Ralph Lauren will be introducing a flying tourbillon. This organ will find its place in the same configuration as the previous tourbillon: a round case rimmed with elm burl wood, a nod to the dashboard of Mr Lauren’s Bugatti.
The world of cars will once again be in the spotlight this year and La Fabrique du Temps will continue to accompany Ralph Lauren in this new auto-horological adventure.
The other models will be interpreted in a number of different versions. By way of comparison, the year 2013 saw the unveiling of 10 new models, whereas Ralph Lauren will be presenting 16 in 2014. This will take the complete range to almost 100 references, spread across a broad spectrum of prices and variations. Ralph Lauren customers will simultaneously benefit from the brand’s existing points of sale, as well as of those of the Richemont group – amounting to a total of 100 boutiques dotted around the world. Within this broad geographical spread, Ralph Lauren’s native US market remains the most significant. Nonetheless, Ralph Lauren should also prove increasingly appealing to a growing number of fine watchmaking devotees in Europe.
Those who appreciate this brand for its ability to combine the world of luxury apparel with that of watchmaking will be able to favour design over purely technical aspects.
Thus, whereas the Ralph Lauren collections welcomed a first quartz movement in 2013, new models of this type will be created in 2014. This kind of calibre is probably more likely to appear in ladies’ watches. Whereas the average price of a Ralph Lauren has thus been around 5,000 euros, the entry price should soon be adjusted to an even more attractive level.