We caught up with Guillaume Tetu, COO of Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewelry Co (RLWJ) in Geneva a couple of weeks ahead of Watches and Wonders Miami 2018. He shares his vision for RLWJ’s future as the brand will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year, including a sneak preview of the new Ralph Lauren RL Automotive Skeleton Steel presented at Watches and Wonders.
Before we talk about the ins-and-outs of this year, how was 2017?
2017 has been a good year for RLWJ. With the introduction of new products to complete our latest women RL888 collection launched in 2016 (RL888 32mm/38mm Steel Snowfall Diamond Case, and RL888 32mm/38mm Steel Black Dial), we sustained the momentum and enlarged the offer to our clients.
The other great novelty comes from the men’s 867 collection: 4 new timepieces have been created to embody Ralph Lauren’s Art Deco elegance in a pragmatic design for everyday use (the 867 35mm in steel, with steel bracelet or calf strap). Ralph Lauren is also about lifestyle to magnify the women. We enriched our Chunky Chain Fine Jewelry collection with additional pieces such as 3 exceptional cuffs (from plain rose gold to full-paved).
In terms of distribution, we consolidated your historical key regions in North America and Japan while expanding our selective network with the best independent retailers.
What is the brand’s long-term plan and how do you plan to shape your offer? In particular, what do your end customers expect in terms of product and pricing?
We have the opportunity to leverage on Ralph Lauren’s network of stores, allowing us to have direct control over the customer experience and retail environment. At the same time, we collaborate with the very best retailers in our key markets (US, Middle East, Japan, Hong Kong, and China).
Again, we will reinforce our proposal in Jewelry, as it has only been available in a few flagships since we presented our first collections in 2011. We will now open more doors with our fine jewelry category in a segment between 2 to 10K USD to target a wider range of customers.
As regard to RL timepieces, we were premiered in 2009 with distinctive collections linked to the Ralph Lauren’s worlds (Equestrian, Art Deco, Automotive, Nautical, Safari). The use of manufacture movements (from our partner Richemont), precious materials, exceptional finishes and selective distribution were part of the high-end positioning strategy. This was decided to position ourselves as a credible and serious player. Over the past few years, we have started to widen our offers with new materials, new finishes and new movements in order to reach out to a larger clientele seeking a Ralph Lauren product at a more affordable price, but not only, as our clientele also research exception in the Ralph Lauren world, we also launched incredible pieces like Double Tourbillon Automotive or a Minute repeater.
This is the beauty of the brand. We constantly start from Mr Lauren’s inspiration and passion, while answering to the demands of the markets, and following our standards in terms of quality and excellence. We are introducing new products this year (high-end pieces and more accessible pieces, both in watches and jewelry) to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Brand and the 10th anniversary of our watch collections.
What are the highlights for Ralph Lauren watches at Watches and Wonders Miami 2018?
Part of the exhibition, many prestigious and iconic cars will be presented. This is the perfect theme for our brand knowing the infinite passion of Mr Lauren for vintage and exceptional automotive collection. The highlight for us will be the new RL Automotive Skeleton Steel timepiece. Inspired by Ralph Lauren’s vintage cars details in the contrasts of the finish and brush steel, this outstanding piece is designed with our unique wood bezel and comes in 45mm like the original version launched in 2015 (RL Automotive 45mm Skeleton). It is a tribute to the timeless design and vintage cars that always inspired Mr Lauren in his design process. A monochrome grey open work on the Jones Caliber (from IWC) will add another dimension to our refined world.
One additional novelty: the new timepiece comes with an interchangeable steel bracelet for a total sleek look and an additional interchangeable brown alligator strap for a vintage yet sophisticated style.