We don’t get to talk about Ralf Tech too much, and while I still have mixed opinions on the brand’s overall offerings, here’s a watch that I found myself wearing with regularity due to mostly to its successful “vintage style” aesthetic and how well built and comfortable it is as an everyday wear. It also manages to accomplish having polished hands that are highly legible, and that’s sadly something you don’t always see. The Ralf Tech WRV V Automatic 1977 “Parisienne” watch stands out to me personally from the brand’s overall line, but I’d encourage readers who find this watch appealing to take a look at their varied offerings since so much is just a matter of taste. Finally, I have to say it: I am guilty of just being annoyed by the name Ralf Tech, since my mind went to a third-party PC repair shop rather than a small french watch brand making some fantastic pieces that present a pretty good value proposition.
The Ralf Tech WRV V Automatic 1977 “Parisienne” is not a bargain item by any means at just over the $2,000 mark, but I found myself wearing this watch pretty frequently, preferring it to some much costlier watches from brands with prestigious profiles. But that’s what I loved about it; though there are obvious design cues from brands like Panerai, the sum of its parts come together in a cohesive package. And being in watch media, those are my favorite experiences: when a seemingly “unremarkable” (and I mean that in the least derogatory way, in that in terms of design, material, movement, etc., there are many choices out there), non-gimmicky watch comes together in a way that’s just solid and unfussy. The Ralf Tech WRV V Automatic 1977 “Parisienne” watch did just this for me.
I usually could care less about brand stunts and marketing events designed to show off the “extreme” nature of sports watches and the virility of the Jacques Cousteu/Richard Branson/James Bond mashup of a man who wears them. I’d usually leave anything stunt-like out of a review, but this is worth mentioning because it’s real and actually pretty cool. In July 2005, Pascal Bernabe achieved the world record for the deepest unassisted scuba dive when he dove 330 meters wearing a Ralf Tech WR1 watch. According to Bernabe, the watch was the only piece of equipment he had that didn’t malfunction at some point, and he went on to specifically say that without the watch his dive would not have been a success. Not scientific or data-based, but pretty convincing as far as endorsements of a brand’s reliability go, right?
The Ralf Tech WRV collection is their “vintage-inspired” line that goes for a more casual look as opposed to their WRX line that is more aggressively styled. Fortunately for me, this Ralf Tech WRV V Automatic 1977 is my favorite model by the brand for a couple of reasons. I think you can sum it up with the sentiment that it is secure in its masculinity without being a contrived watch, feeling the need to overcompensate or try too hard only to end up looking like a Tonka truck.
At 43.8mm wide with a 26mm-wide strap, you get a lot more wrist presence than the actual wrist real estate that the watch occupies. That’s something I always appreciate in a watch – when I feel like I’m wearing just the right size without veering into a range so large it turns off people with smaller wrists than mine. I think going wide on the strap like you see here while staying in the general ~42mm territory, give or take a couple millimeters, is a great practice and one I wouldn’t mind seeing more.
It’s actually funny how often people comment on or complain about watch size, but I have noticed that bracelet or strap width is something that makes a world of difference. Honestly, I’d still like this watch a lot if it had a 22mm-wide strap, which is what you’ll mostly see out there, but I really did learn to love the 26mm-wide strap here.
This being said, I did find the buckle on the Ralf Tech WRV V Automatic 1977 “Parisienne” to be a little too big, and it almost ended up feeling like a small belt buckle to me. Fortunately, the black Berenia calf leather strap is about as comfortable as one can expect, and it looks great as well. If you’re in the mood to change things up a little bit, the watch also comes with a black ZULU ballistic nylon strap which is a nice addition (sorry, we forgot to take a photo of it but you can see it here). Though, to be honest, I love the leather strap and am not bored or tired of it yet. Nice to know I can easily change it out, though, as the watch, which comes in a shockproof NATO explorer case, also comes with a strap-changing tool.
The case is made with 316L steel done with a black bezel and matte black dial. The yellow gold-coated indices on this “Parisienne” model from the WRV line are one of my favorite things about this watch, and I just find the simple use of black with them to be done just right. Moving on to the unidirectional bezel, I do like the nice, solid clicking sound of each motion as you turn it.