When Ralph Lauren announced he would be branching out into the world of watchmaking in 2007, expectations were high. A luxury label famous for being less of a brand and more of a state of mind, how would the Lauren lifestyle translate into timepieces?
As it turns out, even better than anticipated. "My collections are about a way of life," says Lauren of his brand. "I'm not designing clothes or furniture or accessories; in my mind I am designing a whole world." The Stirrup watches, in particular, fit so neatly into Lauren's world that they became instant classics. Imbued with the equestrian heritage of the Ralph Lauren Polo label, the styling was spot on. And even better, they were - like all Ralph Lauren watches - crafted entirely in Switzerland and fitted with movements manufactured by the prestigious Richemont Group.
Today, the Stirrup watch is an iconic design in Ralph Lauren's watch collection, which consists of more than 20 models and increases in size each year. While men gravitate towards the large models, which are an imposing presence on the wrist, there has been an increasing demand for the smaller sizes among women, which has prompted Lauren to create five new Stirrup Petite Link watches - at just 23.3mm across, daintier than any Stirrup watch that has preceded it.
The fully adjustable bracelet, composed of intertwining links, has been designed to sit comfortably flat on the wrist. Two stainless steel models with off-white and mother-of-pearl dials capture the purity of the Stirrup watch: its elegantly arching dial with Roman numeral hour markers that follow its precise contours, and the Ralph Lauren logo spelled out in simple lettering across the face.
A third model in stainless steel is gently illuminated with snow-set diamonds on the bezel - a technique that involves the skills of a gem-setter to place diamonds of different diameters side by side with such precision that none of the metal is visible. The rose gold model with a lacquered black dial brings out the Stirrup's warmer, darker side, while the star of the collection, a Petite Link in white gold, fully pavéd with diamonds on the case and bracelet, elevates the Stirrup to jewellery watch status.
Ralph Lauren will reveal the new Stirrup Petite Link collection in its entirety at the SIHH in January. In the run-up to Christmas, however, it has launched the off-white Petite Link Steel at stores worldwide, with the remaining four models available in early 2014.