The Ralph Lauren RL867 timepieces collection draws inspiration from the brand’s flagship men’s store at 867 Madison Avenue, New York. The store occupies a historic mansion built by Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo in 1898 as a residence, but she never got to live there. Her story and the story of the building on the corner of 72nd Street she commissioned with inherited money is well documented, with plenty of relevant newspaper clippings from Gertrude’s era available online. And there was an excellent piece published in 2010 in the New York Times, “Mrs Waldo’s Mysterious Mansion“, if you like this sort of stuff. The inspiration here is much more than just the store, but I’ll let you make your own opinion. What matters today, however, are the new editions launched in the Ralph Lauren RL867 Collection, with compact cases made of gold or sterling silver.
The Ralph Lauren RL867 Collection was revealed to the public in 2009 at the SIHH in Geneva, along with other Ralph Lauren timepieces in the middle of the financial crisis. The watches represented a clever potpourri of popular design elements, with movements sourced from JLC, IWC and Piaget, with a price tag above the expected for the fashion-branded watches. Many of my colleagues commented that one could hardly have chosen a worse time than 2009 to launch anything. Only a few believed this watchmaking exercise would live long. Still, Ralph Lauren created timepieces for another few years, and we are happy to see how the watch collections, including the RL867, evolve.
The RL867 timepieces (for quite some time and until recently) offered by the Ralph Lauren brand were four references only, all in stainless steel square cases, brushed or polished, 35mm x 35mm, on leather straps or with a bracelet, with white or black dials, first presented in 2017. In the past, the collection featured white and pink gold models, with a gorgeous RL867 small white gold guilloché timepiece, 27.5mm x 27.5mm, powered by the RL430, which is the Piaget 430P calibre. The new watches do not have the guilloché decoration but are closer to this reference from 2012 than the 2017 bunch. And it is not the smaller size, the precious metals or the use of Piaget 430P movement that brings the two closer, but the overall feel and impression – ultra-elegant, back-in-time classy and chic.
The new Ralph Lauren RL867 collection edition offers 28mm x 28mm or 32mm x 32mm case sizes, with a choice of sterling silver or rose gold case materials, both polished and with a thickness of just 5.7mm. The convex sapphire crystal has a colourless anti-reflective treatment on the inside. This is a thoughtful detail so that we can enjoy the off-white lacquered and polished dial with its mix of black printed Roman and Arabic numerals, unmarred. Black are the hour and minute hands, Breguet-style. The two concentric squares, the outer one as a minute track and the inner one to support the hour indices, complete the Art Deco look.
The slim profile of the new references is in perfect harmony with the lug-to-lug dimensions. As in the past, this is possible thanks to the ultra-thin hand-wound mechanical movement 430P, manufactured by Piaget for Ralph Lauren as an RL430 calibre. The 430P is a well-known calibre with excellent performance. Only 2.1mm thick, simple and reliable, the 430P was introduced in 1998 and has been used to drive the Piaget Altiplano series since then. Its qualities allowed Piaget (and other Richemont brands) to use 430P as a model to develop other movements – like the 600P, one of the world’s thinnest mechanical flying tourbillon movements. Despite the small size, which affects the size of the mainspring, the RL430 delivers about 40 hours of power reserve – you’ll have to wind the watch manually quite often as they did 100 years ago. Classy.
The four new Ralph Lauren RL867 timepieces are sold on a shiny black alligator strap with a polished pin buckle matching the case colour and material. The watch sizes, dial design and shiny strap kind of ask the new references to be considered dress watches, but this is not the brand’s intention – they are “everyday elegance”. To quote Ralph Lauren, who is said to approve practically everything produced under his name personally: “Though the collections I create may be inspired by dreams, they are for real life – for all kinds of living.“ Prices for the new collection start at EUR 8,500.
More details on www.ralphlauren.com.