When you think of Ralph Lauren, watches may not be the first product line that comes to mind. That’s because it was only in 2008 that Ralph Lauren had been created. However, their watches seem not void of interest (to say the least). They are nicely designed, they feature mechanical movements (and some, very interesting mechanical movements) and they have their own DNA. That’s the feeling we had on paper. Thus, we had to experience this in real, by spending a weekend with the Ralph Lauren Slim Classique 38mm on the wrist.
As said, it’s only in 2008 that Ralph Lauren Corporation and Richemont announced the introduction of the Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewelry Company, S.A.R.L., based in Geneva, Switzerland. This was the first joint-venture between Richemont and a prestigious fashion house, and also the first foray for Ralph Lauren Corporation into the field of watchmaking. This deal was more than just a collaboration between two companies. This was about two men. Ralph Lauren, chairman and chief executive officer of Ralph Lauren at the time, and Johann Rupert, executive chairman of Richemont, who share the same passion for attention to detail and quality, so important in the world of high-end watchmaking.
It is no secret that Ralph Lauren, the man, has always had a passion for watches and has aspired to enter the luxury watch world for many years. Few however will appreciate the fact that Lauren personally designs the watches himself. The Slim Classique we had the pleasure of spendiralfng the weekend with was originally launched in 2012 but as we haven’t had the opportunity to cover the brand much here on Monochrome, we though it would be intersting to revisit this eye-catching dress watch.
The Ralph Lauren Slim Classique captures Ralph Lauren’s signature sensibilities of luxury, glamour and elegance. It is a refined dress watch that honor the refined glamour and debonair sophistication of the Roaring ’20s. For Ralph Lauren, that era’s unmatched elegance, and its daring spirit of optimism, has long been a source of inspiration.
The Ralph Lauren Slim Classique is a time-only dress watch, featuring no complications. However the detailing on the watch is sublime, particularly the guilloche on the dial and case. Guilloché is one of watchmaking’s most rarefied art forms. Engraved patterns interlace creating lines often so fine that they are barely visible to the naked eye. Created using an antique rose engine that dates back to the late 19th century, the unique guilloché pattern of the Ralph Lauren Slim Classique collection adorns the dial with a distinct barleycorn design, with 80 waves circling from the outer edge to the center of the dial. A master engraver, who skillfully controls the speed and pressure of his rose engine graver to ensure the correct depth and symmetry of the pattern, crafts each line. Additional guilloché patterns frame the dial’s Roman numerals and embellish the elegant bezel.
Dial and Hands
The dial is a silvery opaline color with central guilloche decor. The art of guilloché is something very special. Only a few skilled artisans remain who carry on this old-world craft, and the rose engines themselves have not been produced since the middle of the last century. Those few individuals with the patience, dexterity and passion necessary to master the craft are as rare a breed as the rose engines themselves. While at one time guilloché was a thriving art with over a thousand craftsmen in Switzerland, today, the country has only four full-time guillocheurs.
The dial feature’s printed Roman numerals (in an appealing size, thicker than many Roman numerals on the market today) and shiny black oxidized Breguet-style hands. This combination works well in my view. Overall, the Ralph Lauren Slim Classique is a very understated watch… at first. A second look reveals many subtle details that gives this watch a unique appearance.
Case and strap
The case is polished 18-karat white gold case with a guilloche bezel with a flat sapphire crystal. It is, in my opinion a perfect sized dress watch at 38 mm case diameter with 5.10 mm case thickness. The case back is secured with four screws. The strap is a black alligator strap which also has a gloss shine to it, which isn’t to my personal taste. I would have been happier with a matte finish. The polished 18-karat white gold pin-buckle is beautiful.
This Slim Classique has a movement produced by Piaget. This makes sense given the relationship with Richemont and the fact that Piaget is among the world’s best producers of very thin mechanical movements. So, within the 5.35mm thin case, sits a RL430 caliber. This caliber comprises of 131 components with 18 jewels and 21,600 vibrations per hour. Unfortunately you cannot see the decoration as the case back is closed but take it from me, it features vertical Côtes de Genève and Perlage décor. Which is nice to know.
It is a supremely elegant, Art Deco inspired watch, of that there is no doubt. My only critique would be the guilloche work on the dial (despite being incredibly impressive) can make the watch feel slightly feminine on the wrist. Make no mistake about it, this is very much a dress watch. At 5.10mm thin it fits beautifully under a cuff but doesn’t pair well with a t-shirt. In that respect, it is limited to more formal environments in mind. This will never be your first dress watch. However, if you are in the market for a second or this dress watch from a less obvious source, this Ralph Lauren Slim Classique has to be a contender. Price: 12,550 Euros.
More details on www.ralphlaurenwatches.com.