The fashion designer's latest timepiece takes inspiration from vintage automobiles.
BY JONATHAN BUES
Ralph Lauren has come to be recognized as the elder statesman of American fashion, a mantle born of his early success marketing neckties and sustained by his compelling vision for elevated leisure lifestyle. A serious watch collector with an appreciation for the craftsmanship inherent to haute horlogerie, Lauren resisted licensing his name to a watch brand of lesser quality. Instead he bided his time, and eventually partnered with the Richemont Group, parent company of Cartier, to make high-quality Swiss mechanical watches, in 2008.
In the aptly named RL Automotive, the designer’s passion for timepieces converges with another of his hobbies: classic cars. Never afraid to experiment with new or unusual materials, Lauren looked to the dashboard of his 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe, one of only four such cars in the world, when he endowed the Automotive with a hand-finished amboyna burl wood bezel. Hewn from shot-blasted gunmetal stainless steel, the piece is sporty and durable, powered by a manually-wound movement produced for Ralph Lauren by watchmaking powerhouse Jaeger-LeCoultre. Odds are its wearer is not driving one of the other three extant Type 57SCs, but with the RL Automotive under a leather driving glove, another mode of transport will seem just fine. Ralph Lauren Automotive 39 mm Black Steel; $15,400, ralphlauren.com