SIHH 2015: The Ralph Lauren Automotive Collection

SIHH 2015: The Ralph Lauren Automotive Collection

The Ralph Lauren Automotive collection demonstrates the powerful connection between two worlds in which precision, style and high performance are paramount — that of watchmaking, and that of the world’s greatest automobiles. 

Ralph Lauren finds his inspiration in one of the most legendary cars of all time: his award-winning 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe — only four of which are known to exist in the world. 

Six new Ralph Lauren Automotive timepieces are offered for 2015, using a combination of materials, including rare hardwoods, to emulate the richness and clarity of the Bugatti’s dash, which has been a model for the Ralph Lauren Automotive timepieces since the collection launched in 2011, and which continues to influence the designer's vision. Three of the new timepieces feature wooden bezels in amboyna burl, while three others display elm burl wood on the dial. 

The new RL Automotive Skeleton features an open-worked, hand-wound mechanical movement. The caliber RL1967 is the first open-worked movement Ralph Lauren has ever presented. The depth of the movement is accentuated with a black finish on the plate and bridges, which offers a subtle contrast to the black finish on the stainless steel shot-blasted case. The letters “RL” at 12 o’clock, on a circular element slightly offset from the mainspring barrel, are a proud statement of creative integrity. The steel and brass elements of the gear train, as well as the large balance oscillating at 18,000 vph and the sword-shaped, black oxidized hands coated with beige Super-LumiNova® further enrich the visual experience. The composition is framed by a lustrous amboyna burl bezel. 

Amboyna burl, which must be expertly cut and finished to expose its richly detailed swirling grain patterns, has a long history of use in luxury automotive interiors. It forms a strong bridge between the automotive and horological worlds, and highlights the RL Automotive Skeleton as a true celebration of Ralph Lauren’s love of beautiful machines.

The RL Automotive timepiece in a 45mm case size expresses the same philosophy, and has a similar engine — the caliber RL98295, a hand-wound mechanical movement made for Ralph Lauren by IWC. The movement is decorated with vertical Côtes de Genève and perlage (circular graining). The dial is finished in a galvanic, matte black, with beige Super-LumiNova® for the hour and minute hands and RL logo. Like the RL Automotive Skeleton, the RL Automotive timepiece has a bezel made from rare amboyna burl, which has been hand-selected, cut and treated to give it an irresistible depth of color. 

Two variations are offered for the RL Automotive timepiece. The black steel model features a stainless steel shot-blasted case with black finish, and a smoky sapphire crystal caseback, while the steel bracelet model has a brushed and polished stainless steel case and a clear sapphire crystal caseback. For both timepieces, the visible screws securing the bezel, and the sinuous but masculine lines of the case with its gracefully tapered lugs, reinforce the designer’s vision of a timepiece expressing the essential spirit of the automotive world. 

The new Automotive Chronograph features a dial enhanced with elm burl, which offers a subtly different expression of grain and depth from the amboyna burl. The Automotive Chronograph illustrates the fascination of high-precision instruments with a tachymetric scale, used to measure speed over a certain distance (the bezel is calibrated in miles per hour), and a case with alternating brushed and polished finishes, and six functional bezel screws. The flat, vintage-style chronograph pushers have a subtle angle that mirrors the curvature of the case. Inside is a movement worthy of a timepiece dedicated to precision measurement: the self-winding caliber RL751A/1 chronograph, made by Jaeger-LeCoultre for Ralph Lauren. 

The Automotive Chronometer also illustrates the art of high-precision horology. The emphasis on clarity in measuring time to the second is shown by such details as the outer screwed-down track for the seconds hand, which also secures the elm burl dial décor. The Automotive Chronometer shares the black oxidized sword hands found in the other Automotive timepieces, as well as the use of beige-colored Super-LumiNova®. Inside is the caliber RL300-1, certified as a chronometer by the COSC (the independent Swiss bureau for the certification of chronometer timepieces). 

Two versions of the Automotive Chronometer are offered for 2015 — one boldly proportioned at 45mm in diameter, and the other at 39mm for those who desire a more classic presence.