Inspired by the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic coupe in Mr Ralph Lauren’s collection, the Sporting Automotive has an elm burl wood dial and an IWC hand-wind movement inside.
Taking its cues from the dash of the incredibly rare 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic coupe in the Ralph Lauren collection, the Ralph Lauren Sporting Automotive is one of the most attractive automotive-inspired watches. The outer dial is elm burl wood – the same wood used for the dash of the Bugatti – with a matte black centre resembling the gauges on the car. It has a strong vintage feel. In contrast to other automobile-themed watches with acres of perlage and knurling on the dial and case, this is restrained and tasteful. Though large at 44.8 mm, it has an air of refinement, largely due to the materials and finish on the external components. The case is brushed with the bezel secured by six screws. Minor details, like the stepped lugs and screwed bars for the strap give it a feel of quality.
Nearly all the Ralph Lauren watches are equipped with mid to high-end movements from brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget and IWC, because the five year old Ralph Lauren Watch and Jewelry Co. is a joint venture with Richemont. Inside the Sporting Automotive is the IWC cal. 98295 (or cal. 98300), the same movement used in the IWC Portuguese Hand Wound.
Though IWC manufactures this movement, or more specifically ValFleurier (a movement making subsidiary of Richemont does), it does have significant resemblance to the Unitas 6498.
The movement is large and attractive decorated, though on close inspection it is clear the decoration is all industrially applied. The anglage, for instance, is clearly cut by CNC milling.
The Sporting Automotive is available on a black calfskin strap or a steel bracelet. They are priced at S$17,800 (~US$13,900) and S$19,100 (~US$14,900) respectively, inclusive of 7% tax.
That is the biggest hurdle for Ralph Lauren watches. Unlike other luxury goods houses which have gone into watchmaking, Hermes for instance, Ralph Lauren products have a much lower average price point. The Sporting Automotive is not an inexpensive watch, but the product is well designed and executed. Branding aside, I give the watch itself high marks. – SJX
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