AlphaLuxe is Anti-Snobbery about Luxury
As a aficionado of watches and past horology commentator, I like to challenge every vestige of “watch snobbery” I find. Within the clique of ‘watch geeks’ dwell some such snobs, who won’t even look at a watch unless it is branded with a familiar name. Thus, they ignore Ralph Lauren watches…. or worse, denigrate them unfairly.
So, I chuckle with impunity to present two new art deco–inspired diamond timepieces from Ralph Lauren. They express his designer’s eye for detail and watch collector’s passion for fine watchmaking and expert gemology.
“My RL888 and RL867 collections are inspired by my Madison Avenue flagships,” says Ralph Lauren. “I wanted to create exquisite, high-jewelry timepieces that celebrate that world of luxury.”
Ralph Lauren Watches 101
The Ralph Lauren Collection is composed of different numbered design lines. Each of the new timepieces celebrates the design codes of Ralph Lauren’s RL888 and RL867 lines, distinctive by their bold mix of Roman and Arabic numerals, vertical Côtes de Genève and grand feu enamel artwork. Before I am accused of being a little ‘geeky’ myself, I’m going to break that down into normal human-speak and explain why, in the words of Martha Stewart: “It’s a good thing!” 🙂
One of the traditional patterns of polishing a watch movement is with vertical stripes named ‘Côtes de Genève’ after the city where they were popularised. It’s extra costly work and for all practical purposes is just pretty luxury.
‘Grand feu’ enamel means ‘grand-fired’ enamel, where finely powdered coloured glass is ‘painted’ onto the metal dial and baked in an oven until the molten glass fuses into enamel. Repeated ‘painting’ and ‘firing’ are required to build up designs and numerals on the dial, with the risk at each step that the whole piece will crack and has to be thrown away. That pushes up the cost but when finished properly, is the most beautiful and desirable type of dial. Lesser ‘cold enamel’ dials are painted lacquer and made without baking.
RL888 Deco Diamond
On top of all that luxury craftsmanship, only a single RL888 Deco Diamond will be diamond-set (one-of-a-kind), as signified by the hand-engraved caseback as “unique piece.”
The RL888 Deco Diamond timepiece requires up to 600 hours of handcraftsmanship to produce, representing specialised fields of casemaking, gem-cutting and gem-setting.
Exquisite art deco motifs adorn both the bezel and bracelet, which feature 414 baguette diamonds, 13 brilliant-cut diamonds and a single rose-cut diamond: That’s a dazzling total of 17.31 carats.
The RL888 Deco Diamond watch also includes 159 black spinels, while an 18K white gold bracelet with six adjustable links allows for convenient customization. The Swiss manufacture quartz movement is tops for accuracy and precision.
RL867 Deco Diamond
The RL867 Deco Diamond will be produced in a limited run of eight timepieces, each hand-engraved with its own number designating the order of production.
The design objective was for “stately opulence” with its sleek 27.5mm square case on the shiniest black alligator strap. Arranged in elegant, geometric designs on an 18K white gold case and clasp, the watch features 44 baguette diamonds and a single rose-cut diamond, for a total weight of 4.60 carats.
Eighteen black spinels add geometric contrast while the Breguet-style hands indicate luxury time on the elegant off-white enamel dial. The RL867 Deco Diamond is powered by the Swiss manufacture RL430 mechanical movement, handcrafted for Ralph Lauren by Piaget.
RALPH LAUREN WATCH & JEWELRY COMPANY (RLWJ)
Ralph Lauren (Ralph Lifshitz) was born and bred in the Bronx, NYC to Belarusian parents of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. As a teenager, his sense of style was already different from his peers.
“To design something legendary that has a sense of timelessness; that is what I aspire to do. That means taking risks, going with what you feel, but never losing sight of your vision and conviction.” – Ralph Lauren.
RLWJ was a joint venture by Polo Ralph Lauren and Richemont Group with their first collection launched in 2009.
Everyone knows Ralph Lauren (the Man and the Company) but some may not realise that Richemont is a conglomerate that owns many top luxury names like Cartier, Piaget, Montblanc, IWC, Jaeger LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Panerai, A. Lange & Sohne, the list goes on and on….
That was the first misconception I had about the watch and jewellery brand. It is not about a Fashion House making fashion watches. It is about two luxury behemoths combining their considerable powers and expertise: watchmaking and design.
Look pass the brand name and focus on the quality of design and execution; trust the Legend that is Ralph Lauren.
“The Cost of True Luxury is the Choice that it Affords.”
Declaration: I have not received any payment nor consideration to tender my opinion here.
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelog ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).