Ralph Lauren Polo Watch
The Ralph Lauren Polo Watch features a prominent depiction of a multicoloured Polo player on its dial, created using a 3D printing technique. Angus Davies wore a sample of the watch for two weeks and relates his experience herein.
Often the idea of branding is viewed in a negative light. Sometimes it is used as a means of charging a premium. Indeed, I have often witnessed my children purchase certain brands of clothing, knowing they are patently devoid of merit.
However, there is a flip side. A brand can imbue a product or service with a degree of reassurance, conferring peace of mind to the would-be wearer. Throughout my adult life, I have purchased numerous shirts, jackets and trousers, sporting a small stitched Polo logo. I know from past experience they will retain their showroom fresh appearance for years to come. Moreover, the styling of these garments resonates with me.
Recently, I was offered the opportunity to wear a Ralph Lauren Polo Watch. To be honest, up to this point I had never worn a Ralph Lauren timepiece and did not know what to expect. Moreover, I am usually accustomed to reviewing Haute Horlogerie creations, some with a six-figure price tag, hence the asking price of £1,510 is somewhat out of my comfort zone. Indeed, I did question what I should expect of a watch with such a modest price. Nevertheless, a pristine press sample arrived and two weeks of hands-on evaluation ensued.
Ralph Lauren Watches and Fine Jewellery
Ralph Lauren named his company Polo in 1967, however, the brand’s foray into watches and fine jewellery came much later. In 2008, Ralph Lauren Watches and Fine Jewellery was launched, incorporating Swiss watchmaking know-how paired with Ralph Lauren’s stylistic influences from the equestrian and automotive world.
The Ralph Lauren Polo Watch is available in an array of dial colours including black, blue and green. Further choice is granted by pairing the watch head with calf straps, unusual tie silk/calf straps and NATO straps. Lastly, the black dial variant is available in a 42mm stainless steel case, as per the other dial colours, as well as a black PVD stainless steel housing. By any measure, there is no shortage of choice.
My press sample featured a black lacquered dial, stainless steel case and a tan calf leather strap. Ordinarily, when reviewing a watch, I first gravitate to the hands, however, the multicoloured Polo player was the first thing to grab my attention. Over the years, we have grown accustomed to comparatively plain dials, hence the prominent logo came as a bit of a shock. However, it infuses the dial with a dose of interest without impairing legibility. To be honest, after a couple of days, I began to forget about the dial-side motif, focussing merely on the time indications.
The Polo player is achieved using 3D printing. This process creates depth to the motif and allows the brand to incorporate numerous shades. The colour palette used for the Polo player differs depending on the dial colour. For example, the player on the black dial is wearing a green polo shirt and red cap, while the horse features a red saddle and red socks. In contrast, on the blue dial, this combination is reversed. I am sure if all the colours were the same for all dial options, the brand could have enjoyed greater economies of scale thereby saving money, however, it has chosen not to countenance such an idea.
The sword-shaped hour and minute hands are lined with white luminescent fill. They are not the largest hands, but feel optimally proportioned and prove very legible. A red central seconds hand kisses the minuterie, allowing the wearer to easily read-off the running seconds. The brand’s nomen sits at noon, neatly nestling within the minuterie, while the place of origin sits above 6 o’clock. Another element that I particularly like are the indexes. Ralph Lauren has chosen plump Arabic numerals to denote the hours. They are not only legible but add a becoming dose of modernity to the composition.
Housed in a 42mm stainless steel case, the Ralph Lauren Polo Watch proffers good wrist presence without feeling ungainly. Personally, I found the watch incredibly comfortable to wear.
All surfaces of the case are highly polished, except for the bezel which is ‘black eloxed aluminium’. While many luxury brands are moving to ceramic inlays, the bezel fitted to this watch has a slightly retro appearance which I find charming. Its muted, slightly matte appearance tempers the brilliance of the polished case surfaces. Arabic numerals are positioned at 10-minute intervals, save for noon where the ‘Polo’ name assumes prominence. The edge of the bezel is fluted, augmenting visual interest.
The tan calf strap feels sumptuous. It comes with quick-release fittings allowing the wearer to swap the strap easily without the need for tools. Despite the modest asking price, the watch is supplied on a stainless steel folding clasp. Everything looks and feels very impressive.
An exhibition caseback affords views of the self-winding movement, the Calibre RL 200, based on the Sellita SW 200-1. This Swiss movement specialist has an impressive reputation within the watch industry and is a trusted supplier to numerous brands. Its SW 200-1 movement is known for its reliability and precision. Delivering much for a comparatively modest sum, it’s a sensible choice for such a keenly priced watch, £1510 (RRP as at 1.10.2020).
Ralph Lauren has attractively embellished the oscillating weight with Côtes de Genève motif and added perlage to various surfaces below. The frequency of the balance is 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the movement contains 26 jewels. The watch can run autonomously for up to 38 hours.
In watchmaking, the term ‘habillage’ is used to refer to the different parts that help to give the watch its finished and functional appearance. This includes the case, dial, hands, crystal, crown, etc. When appraising the habillage of the Ralph Lauren Polo Watch, there is an overriding sense of quality. Both visual and tactile examination reveals that each element has been executed to an impressively high standard, especially considering the modest price point. Indeed, if the watch cost £2500, I would still consider it good value for money.
Furthermore, in terms of the movement, Ralph Lauren has chosen a well-respected specialist firm. Moreover, the additional finishing touches such as Côtes de Genève and perlage enhance the aesthetic appearance of the movement and reinforce the perception of value.
Ultimately, the Polo player on the dial is likely to polarise opinion. Personally, I like its distinctive appearance, it provides a point of interest without impairing readability. However, like any form of thought-provoking style, there will inevitably be individuals who don’t subscribe to the design language employed. Having had a foretaste of the brand’s watches I would be keen to see more of what it has to offer. Perhaps, more than anything, this watch is worthy of Ralph Lauren, a brand synonymous with quality and style.
- Model: Ralph Lauren Polo Watch
- Reference: 472836826002
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42 mm; height 12.35 mm; sapphire crystal to front and exhibition case back
- Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds
- Movement: Calibre RL200 (Sellita SW 200-1); self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 26 jewels; power reserve 38 hours
- Strap: Tan calf strap paired with a stainless steel folding buckle
- Price: £1510 (RRP as at 1.10.2020)