On the occasion of his 84th birthday, Perpetual Passion pays homage to Ralph Lauren with some unpublished photos of the legendary American designer and the watches he wore.
I have always thought that the wristwatch is the most personal object a man can wear. A small travel companion, witness to the taste and history of its owner. For this reason, scrutinizing the wrist of one of the personalities I most admire – Ralph Lauren – was a fascinating discovery for me. Each of his watches, as well as his clothes, are perfectly linked to Ralph's vision, to the world that he has in mind and that he has built for himself in everyday life.
Ralph Lauren knew how to tell stories, also through the watches chosen for his advertising campaigns, and I wouldn't be surprised if he used some from his own collection.
RALPH LAUREN'S WATCHES
Almost inevitable on his wrist and a symbol of elegance, Cartier plays an almost fundamental role in the personal collection of Ralph Lauren. And it is not difficult to think that the proportions, shapes and timelessness of these watches fully match the idea of elegance imagined by Ralph, where the watch remains a discreet presence especially when paired with a BlackTie dress.
CARTIER TANK LC
The Tank LC (Louis Cartier) is the quintessence of the collection Cartier Tank.
The LC Tank was first introduced in 1922, featuring slightly softer corners than the original Tank, the Normal Tank. The yellow gold case represents the most classic iteration of the Tank model. The case of these examples is also stamped with the maker's mark, EJ, for Edmond Jaeger. At the time of production, Cartier watches were made in collaboration with Edmond Jaeger, who worked with LeCoultre to produce the highest quality movements.
CARTIER TANK AMÈRICAINE CHRONOGRAPH
Relatively new to the Cartier Tank collection, the Americaine joined the line-up in 1989. Based on the 1921 Tank Cintrée, it maintains the curved profile of the case, reinforcing the proportions. The addition of the Chronoreflex perpetual calendar chronograph movement, based on the ultra-thin Piaget 212P, adds additional functionality within the dimensions of the existing case.
This watch, which has always been under the shadow of its "younger" brother the Time Only, has great potential and represents a very valid alternative with an excellent quality-price ratio. The performance on the wrist is the same, as evidenced by this photograph of it worn by Ralph during a gala dinner.
CARTIER TANK CINTRÉE
Introduced in 1921, the Grand Tank Cintrée model is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful watches made of the 46,5th century. Measuring an impressive 23mm long and XNUMXmm wide, the Cintrée's highly curved case was designed to hug the curves of your wrist. The large dial and case combine straight lines, sensual curves and sharp angles, resulting in a “modern” wristwatch with a design far ahead of its time. The most impressive vintage version of Cartier's iconic Tank model is revered for its ladylike elegance.
In his collection Ralph Lauren does not boast a "common" Tank Cintrée, but rather the Tank Cintrée that belonged to Andy Warhol and purchased by Ralph himself during an auction of watches belonging to the artist. As stated by the fashion designer himself to the founder of Hodinkee – Ben Clymer – during a great interview on Hodinkee.com"I took it to Cartier, had it measured on my wrist and put it on this Cintrée. I love the look of hers and this is a watch I wear often".
CARTIER VINTAGE IN VINTAGE PLATINUM
Also in the same interview with Hodinkee, Ralph Lauren showed a very rare Art Deco-inspired Platinum Tank which – according to one of our sources – should also have belonged to Andy Warhol.
CARTIER TANK NORMAL
Recently relaunched with the re-edition presented at Watches & Wonders, the Tank Normale was born in 1917. The aesthetic was innovative for its time and is believed to have been inspired by the bird's-eye view of the very first Renault military tank vehicle deployed during the First World War. A prototype Tank watch was given to General John J. Pershing of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, which cemented the history of the design. The Tank was prized for its bold square case, elongated rectangular sides, and clean, legible dial with Roman numerals.
Urwerk UR-210Y, a voice out of the chorus like that of its owner, also commonly called “Satellite” or “Black Hawk”, was presented in 2014 in a limited edition of 75 examples. Retrograde minutes and hours, features a patent on the specific power reserve for the last 2 hours! The generous dimensions (43.8×53.6mm) are not felt on the wrist thanks to the position of the lugs that wrap around the wrist.
How could the crowned brand not be missing from Sir RL's collection?
ROLEX PRINCE BRANCARD
Let's start with a Rolex of great charm, which perfectly reflects the radiant years in which it was born - 20s and 30s cuts - thanks to the sinuosity of its brand with elongated and flared lugs. The dial is divided into two distinctive parts with the indication of the hours and minutes in the upper half leaving a prominent place for the seconds in the lower half. The clearly legible seconds made the Prince the first choice of doctors, hence its designation as a “doctor's watch”.
The Rolex Prince was designed for "men who want to stand out", as stated in one of the very first advertisements that launched Rolex in 1929 when it presented the Brancard.
ROLEX PRE DAYTONA 6238
The Rolex Pre-Daytona 6238 is one of the least seen watches on Ralph Lauren's wrist. From the research done, I can affirm that he wore it particularly between the 80s and 90s, always with a leather strap.
The reference 6238 is undoubtedly a milestone in the history of Rolex chronographs. Launched in 1960, it is the last model to feature a simple bezel and an internal tachymeter scale. It can also be described as Rolex's first modern chronograph, and one that would pave the way for the reference 6239, the first Cosmograph Daytona ever released by Rolex. Hence the nickname “Pre-Daytona” given by collectors to the reference 6238.
ROLEX 1675 GMT MASTER
The Role GMT Master 1675 has been one of Ralph Lauren's most worn watches since the beginning of his career. It is easy to notice it on his wrist while he is busy arranging the clothes worn by one of the models during a fashion show, or lying in the snow in the mountains surrounding the Ranch.
Rolex introduced the now iconic GMT-Master dual time wristwatch in 1954 with the reference 6542, developed in collaboration with Pan American Airways so that staff could read both “local” and “home” time during travel. 1675 was presented starting from 1959 and produced for over twenty years, making some improvements to the previous model such as crown protectors to prevent damage to the crown, and the fragile Bakelite bezel insert was replaced with a more durable metal insert.
ROLEX SUBMARINER 5513
Spotted on the wrist of Ralph Lauren during the backstage of the “California Dreaming” collection in October 2022, the Rolex Submariner 5513 is another timeless reference from Rolex as well as the most produced in production from 1962 until 1989, enjoying a long activity about 27 years old.
Throughout its history, the reference has evolved through various modifications and improvements, especially regarding the dial. The Rolex Submariner is considered a tool watch par excellence.
IWC WORLD WAR II PILOT
IWC B-Uhr, military watch from the Second World War presumably assigned to the Luftwaffe, the German air force, an integral part of the Wehrmacht. With very generous dimensions, we are talking about 55mm in diameter, it is absolutely a "piece" of historical importance given its rarity! L'IWC B-Uhr it is considered the rarest and most prized of all B-Uhren. IWC only produced 1.000 specimens of these watches, which were sent to the IWC agent in Berlin, Siegfried Heindorf, in 1940. Due to the heavy losses suffered by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of England, it is assumed that very few IWC B-Uhr survived the great war.
PANERAI LUMINOR 6152/1
The Italian brand Panerai he made watches for the Royal Italian Navy at the beginning of the 3646th century and surviving examples are highly sought after by enthusiasts. After about a decade of selling the ref. to the military. XNUMX, the Navy asked the watch brand for a heavier version of a dive wristwatch, and the ref. 6152 e 6152-1 and what that Panerai He has made. This model is often called “Luminor“, from the name of luminescent material which can be seen on the hands and numbers and which Panerai patented in 1949. The Luminor replaced the “Radiomir,” which was the lume developed between 1910 and 1915 (the Radiomir nomenclature is still used today to mark Panerai watches). Only about a hundred of these watches are known in the world, which makes them particularly rare.
Ralph often wore this watch, even in his fashion shows, and is also the proud owner of the Panerai “Egiziano” reference produced at the request of Commander Fawzi of the Egyptian Navy who attended the Command School of the Italian Navy. This model is the largest of all Panerai wristwatches ever made with an impressive diameter of 60mm. It also featured a rotating bezel graduated for 5 minutes. In particular, it was equipped with the well-known 8-day Angelus movement which was already used in a small number of Panerai 6152 references.
CITIZEN PROMASTER AQUALAND VINTAGE
When I first saw Ralph Lauren wearing the Citizen Aqualand, I thought, “Ralph must really love watches.” Don't think badly, my observation is meant as a compliment. Yes, because the Citizen Aqualand is a true professional watch and not a mere object of style, nor even a luxury one. You have to appreciate its history and its functionality to decide to wear it... and Ralph Lauren did it during an RL fashion show as a true "King of Cool": t-shirt, jeans and "Navajo" belt.
The first Aqualand, reference C0023, debuted at the beginning of 1985, was the first watch to incorporate an electronic, digital depth gauge. To be clear, depth gauge watches were not yet a new thing. Favre-Leuba and Aquadive already had them in the early 70s, and crude and unreliable digital diving computers existed as early as the 60s. But in a traditional style wearable watch, this additional functionality was revolutionary. As dive “computers” gained momentum and reputation, Aqualand it became, in fact, the last dive watch built for, and purchased by, real divers who needed a tool to time their dives.
CASIO CBX 1000
In recent years CASIO has managed to reach the hearts of even the most demanding enthusiasts, with captivating collaborations capable of catalyzing the attention of even the most demanding enthusiasts. Let's think about the editions with John Mayer and the last one with Hodinkee and Ed Sheeran, where the G-SHOCK Ref. 6900 was presented completely in yellow. Well before all this happened, in the 90s, Ralph Lauren showed off on the catwalks a yellow Casio CBX1000 with a rubber strap... worn "over the cuff".
RALPH LAUREN STIRRUP LARGE CHRONOGRAPH
Last but not least, Ralph Lauren Stirrup Large Chronograph. From 2009 Ralph Lauren creates timeless watches with designs inspired by watches of yesteryear. The now classic watch Ralph Lauren Stirrup, with a case inspired by the shape of the bracket of a horse, is as elegant as it is casual. The Ralph Lauren Stirrup Large Chronograph watch has a rose gold case shiny and nice lacquered dial white. The dial has a classic aesthetic, with black Roman numerals and a railway minute track surrounding it. The thin chronograph counters, activated by the pushers on the side of the crown, are slightly recessed and allow the elapsed time to be read in a distinctive way, without detracting from the refined elegance of the dial.
It equipped with a chronograph movement high quality with column wheel self-winding produced by Jaeger-LeCoultre, the watch has a 48-hour power reserve and is presented on a black alligator leather strap closed by a stirrup-inspired rose gold folding clasp. A watch that takes up and summarizes the stylistic canons of vintage watches dedicated to Bugatti, of which Mr. Ralph Lauren is the greatest representative with his Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, a masterpiece born 80 years ago, a legend of four-wheelers, an exceptional coupé of which, now, only three examples exist.