Ralph Lauren's passion for cars is renowned and his prized automobile collection - one of the greatest in the world - is kept in a garage that looks more like a museum. Just to give you an idea of the importance of his collection, a couple of years ago Ralph Lauren allowed his precious cargo to travel across the Atlantic for a special exhibit "Masterpieces from the Ralph Lauren Collection", held at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
In Ralph Lauren's world, cars are works of art that have been a long-time source of inspiration for his watch and furniture collections. The affinity between cars and watches, both aesthetically and engine-wise, is natural, and a great deal of petrol heads are also watch fanatics, passionate about the micro mechanical world housed inside the case.
The Ralph Lauren Sporting Collection has just welcomed a new thoroughbred to its stable with a racy chronograph model that bridges the designer's love of cars and watches. The new 45mm Ralph Lauren Automotive Chronograph watch is a wonderful tribute to one of Ralph Lauren's favourite cars, his sleek Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe, which car enthusiasts around the world will remember as the winner of the Villa d'Este automobile beauty contest held in Italy last year.
The black Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe, built in 1938, is an amazing creature, with curves reminiscent of a Hollywood pin-up. The round stainless steel case, polished and brushed to obtain a beautiful matte finish, has six exposed screws on the bezel, just like the ones on the hub that hold the steering wheel of the Bugatti to the column. The curvilinear bodywork of the automobile has also inspired the stylised lugs that attach the watch to the black alligator strap.
One of the most salient features of Ralph Lauren's Bugatti is the wonderful elm burl wood dashboard. The new Ralph Lauren Automotive Chronograph watch incorporates this hallmark detail on the dial, placed between the tachymetre scale and centre of the face. The warm elm burl wood, with its rich tobacco colour and grainy knots, contrasts beautifully with the black matte galvanic centre of the dial, a clear tribute to the inky black bodywork of the vintage car.
Designed to measure elapsed time, the chronograph counters echo the gauges of a car on the dashboard. The two polished pushers on the side of the case activate the central hand for elapsed seconds, a 30-minute counter at 3 o'clock and a 12-hour counter at 9 o'clock. In addition to the standard hour and minute functions, the date is positioned at 6 o'clock inside the small seconds counter. The great vintage character of the watch is enhanced with the sword-shaped hands and Arabic numbers that have been treated with beige SuperLuminova for optimum legibility, while the chronograph hands have been varnished in shiny white.
Befitting a timepiece that reflects Mr Lauren's devotion to fast cars, the engine of this Ralph Lauren watch has been made exclusively for the brand by Jaeger-LeCoultre. A mechanical self-winding motor racing at 28,800 vibrations per hour, the movement keeps the watch purring for 65 hours.
Just like car buffs, lifting the bonnet to view the engine is one of the most exciting moments, and a sapphire crystal caseback allows for a clear view of the precision Swiss motor that has been decorated with Côtes de Genève and circular graining.
Even if you can't afford a vintage Bugatti, the new Ralph Lauren Automotive Chronograph watch will go a long way in reliving the dream.