Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to spend some time with a Ralph Lauren watch. While that particular model had an aesthetic that wasn’t exactly suited to my particular tastes, I ultimately came away with significantly more respect for Ralph Lauren timepieces than I’d had before, simply due to the quality that goes into them. Although Ralph Lauren is a major international fashion brand, the watches it produces are a significant step above what most people typically associate with timepieces made by companies that also sell everything from clothing and fragrances to home goods and even furniture. Many of Ralph Lauren’s watches routinely sell for tens of thousands of dollars, and some are even powered by Jaeger-LeCoultre chronograph movements or fitted with heavy-hitter complications, with one model even featuring a tourbillon. However, even on the entry-level side of the brand’s catalog, a number of different models are worthy of being on your radar, and the new Ralph Lauren Polo Vintage 67 is a perfect example of what the internationally renowned fashion house can do when it puts its mind to creating an affordable enthusiast-driven timepiece.
Offering a classic aesthetic that draws its inspiration from the very earliest days of the wristwatch, the new Ralph Lauren Polo Vintage 67 pairs a refined yet versatile design with a manually-wound caliber that is produced by the famous Swiss movement manufacturer La Joux-Perret. On paper, this new Ralph Lauren watch promises to offer quite a lot of value for what can still be considered a fairly attainable entry-level price, and with a highly traditional design language that I personally find infinitely more appealing than the previous model that I wrote about earlier this year, I was eager to see the new Polo Vintage 67 in the metal and spend some time with the watch for a proper hands-on review.
The Ralph Lauren Polo Vintage 67 takes its overall design inspiration from classically styled timepieces produced during the 1920s and 1930s; however, it features a contemporary size and modern manufacturing materials. The stainless steel case features somewhat of a rounded tonneau shape and it offers a lightly aged finish that is neither brushed nor polished, but rather somewhere in between. While it is intended to mirror the appearance of the patina that forms on metal objects after decades worth of wear, it doesn’t have the prominent faux blemishes that typically come to mind when you think of an intentionally aged finish. Instead, it offers an even, semi-reflective surface that has a subtle matte quality to it and most closely resembles what you might expect to find on something like a metal railing or a tool from the hardware store.
The watch itself measures 40mm in diameter by 47mm lug-to-lug, with an overall thickness of 9.1mm, and this includes the box-shaped sapphire crystal that sticks up above the top of the case. Surrounding the crystal is a thin stepped bezel that is comparatively small for the rest of the case and almost gives the Ralph Lauren Polo Vintage 67 the appearance as though its top surface was vacuum-sealed down to the middle section, squeezing away any excess metal in the process. The short thin lugs offer a similar appearance to the style fitted to wristwatches from the early 20th century; however, they offer a standard design with normal lug holes, and this means that can be fitted with any normal 20mm strap. A large recessed onion-style crown sits at 3 o’clock and offers access to the movement, while a screw-down exhibition caseback set with a large sapphire crystal display window helps provide users with 50 meters of water resistance.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the case on the Ralph Lauren Polo Vintage 67, although a slightly smaller case diameter somewhere in the neighborhood of 36mm to 38mm would probably have been better sized for my wrist. The thin profile and narrow stepped bezel give the watch a similar profile to classic timepieces produced nearly a century ago, while the two sapphire crystals that form its upper and lower surfaces provide an unmistakably modern feel and the inherent sense of quality that comes from the pristine glossy texture of scratch-resistant synthetic sapphire glass. While I’m sure the spec-nerds out there will wish that it offered more water resistance, 50 meters is more than enough for everyday life, and it’s important to remember that manual-wind watches will inherently have more struggles maintaining significant water resistance ratings due to the fact that daily winding of the watch through the crown puts additional wear on the gaskets that form the seals at that point. Additionally, since the Polo Vintage 67 is hardly a sports watch, you will likely end up reaching for something else anyway to be your timekeeping companion on aquatic adventures, so this level of water resistance seems entirely acceptable for a model of this nature.
Staying true to its classically styled design ethos, the dial of the Ralph Lauren Polo Vintage 67 offers a similar overall aesthetic to what you will find fitted to vintage pocket watches and wristwatches that were produced more than a half-century ago. Set against an opaline silver surface are large Arabic numeral hour markers in black lacquer that offer a slightly-three dimensional appearance, while a traditional railroad-style minute track surrounds the periphery of the dial. At 6 o’clock sits a gently recessed register for the small running seconds hand, which has been given a subtle concentric pattern with black printed markings. Located on the opposite side of the dial below the 12 o’clock hour marker is the Ralph Lauren Polo logo in large black letters, and while I would have personally preferred this particular detail to be a bit smaller, its large size does help create balance to offset the subsidiary seconds register. The centrally mounted hour and minute hand have a cathedral-style outer profile, although they are completely solid in their structure, and all three of the hands are finished with glossy black lacquer for added contrast and to match the hour markers.
In many instances, when big-name fashion brands produce watches, the one area in which they most frequently end up falling short is the movements they choose to power them. That said, the Ralph Lauren Polo Vintage 67 features a true enthusiast-driven caliber and one that perfectly matches the refined yet traditional vibe of the watch itself. Powering the watch and sitting on full display through its sapphire display caseback is the Swiss-made La Joux-Perret Cal. LJP7380 manual-wind movement. Featuring 21 jewels and running at a frequency of 21,600vph (3 Hz), the Cal. LJP7380 offers users a generous power reserve of approximately 90 hours, and it is adorned with perlage on the mainplate and vertical Geneva stripes across all of the various visible bridges. Realistically speaking, the La Joux-Perret Cal. LJP7380 isn’t going to be winning any awards for its performance specs or mind-blowing finishing; however, it is certainly a step above the ubiquitous ETA/Sellita calibers that are typically fitted to watches at this price point, and you also have to give Ralph Lauren credit for choosing a manual-wind caliber in the first place, let alone one that properly fills the interior diameter of the case.
Fitted to the lugs of the Ralph Lauren Polo Vintage 67 is a bund-style strap made from burnished tan-colored calf leather. The leather itself appears to be of quite good quality, and it is treated in a manner so that it will age and patina over time to match the vintage aesthetic of the watch. While some bund straps have the additional piece that sits under the case permanently affixed to the two sections that connect to the lugs, this particular version features a three-piece construction that allows you to remove the additional part that sits below the case should you prefer a more traditional two-piece strap design. Additionally, both ends of the strap connect to the lugs with quick-release pins, and there is even a quick release for the signed stainless steel pin buckle, so swapping back and forth between a bund configuration and a standard two-piece strap takes all of about ten seconds and can be performed with nothing more than your bare hands.
Personally, I’ve never been the biggest fan of bund straps, and while I’m certainly not bund-inclined, I’m also not entirely bund-averse either. Even calling myself bund-curious would be a bit of an exaggeration, although I do think that some types of watches look quite good on this style of strap, provided that the individual wearing them has enough arm real estate and personal bravado to pull off this rather bold and rugged style. Unfortunately, I am not that type of person, and whenever I wear a watch with a bund strap, I give myself more cosplay vibes than anything else, and the added bulk makes me feel like I’m wearing one of those leather cuffs that stores like Hot Topic sold during the late 1990s and early 2000s. That being said, this particular bund strap is quite comfortable on the wrist, and since converting it back and forth between a bund-style and a standard two-piece takes just a handful of seconds, it ultimately offers a very solid overall strap solution that gives you the option of two distinct styles without actually being two different watch straps. Additionally, one other benefit of ditching the bund attachment and wearing it as a standard two-piece strap is that you get a thinner overall profile, along with a completely unobstructed view of the manual-wind La Joux-Perret movement that powers the watch.
While there may be some collectors and enthusiasts who turn their noses up at the Polo Vintage 67 on the grounds that Ralph Lauren isn’t exclusively a watch manufacturer, it’s important to remember that many of the biggest and most well-respected names in the industry, such as Omega, Cartier, and Patek Philippe also produce items other than timepieces. Additionally, rather than just being design-focused fashion watches, the timepieces that Ralph Lauren produces actually have more in common with traditional Swiss luxury watches, which also happen to be made by a big-name fashion brand. Consequently, Ralph Lauren watches are typically quite a bit more expensive compared to less horologically-focused offerings produced by other similarly well-known fashion labels, and even the most affordable options cost nearly $2k. That being said, the Ralph Lauren Polo Vintage 67 is positioned firmly on the affordable side of the brand’s catalog with an official retail price of $2,700 USD. No timepiece from a famous fashion label is going to be the absolute most value-driven offering, as you will almost always be paying some type of premium for the brand recognition attached to the name on the dial. However, it’s undeniable that the Ralph Lauren Polo Vintage 67 offers a significantly more unique and compelling option than many other watches that are currently available at this price point. For more information, please visit the brands’ website.