By Maria Doulton in London
One of the keystones of Ralph Lauren's watch collection, launched five years ago, is the elegant men's Slim Classique. And for 2014, this classic round watch is presented in four smaller 32mm models suitable for women or men looking for a more discreet timepiece that neatly slips under the cuff.
The Slim Classique is everything its name suggests, embodying the aesthetic of Ralph Lauren's most luxurious offerings. Evoking the grandeur of the early 20th century, the Slim Classique's very architecture hints at its pedigree. The total height of the case is a mere half a centimetre, made possible thanks to the ultra-thin movements tucked away behind the dials that efficiently measure the hours and minutes.
As befits such a refined watch, three of the four new 32mm Slim Classique watches are made of either white or rose gold, and the bezels are enhanced with an intricate pattern of engine-turned engraving known as guilloché, a technique first developed in the early 1800s in France. Guilloché engraving is typically found on the finest watches and jewels of the Belle Epoque era, and today the technique is kept alive by highly skilled craftsmen in Switzerland.
The symmetrical ripples of finely worked gold add texture and richness to the case and catch the light with each move of the wrist. For those looking for a brighter sparkle, the more luxurious models replace the guilloché work with a row of 60 brilliant-cut diamonds totalling 0.62 carats.
The base of the dials are also engraved using the guilloché technique and then covered with a layer of white opaline enamel, creating a delicate shimmering pattern. Adding to the sober look of the watch, the black oxidised steel Breguet-style hands, with their pleasingly rounded tips, sweep across the dial, pointing to the Roman numeral hour markers. The new 32mm models are all powered by the Calibre RL057 quartz movement, which is decorated with traditional Côtes de Genève vertical stripes. Luxurious in every detail, even the black alligator straps are fastened with a gold pin-buckle.
The simple elegance of the Ralph Lauren Slim Classique watches makes them perfect for day wear, paired with a blazer or crisp white shirt. But my favourite Slim Classique 32mm watch is the model with rose gold with diamonds, which adds an air of subtle luxury to the simplest outfit but is equally ready to come out and shine at night.