It becomes very apparent to me that some people in the business think that we as consumers are just a bunch of brain dead morons. Now, that is understandable since there are things out there that get sold no mater what. This year, Ralph Lauren has raised the bar to a whole new level. This is probably the first time that I remember feeling offended at a presentation. To think that I actually had to get up in the morning to see this!
I was pleasantly surprised at first when seeing the pictures from the outside of their stand. No wonder, I expected something in the line of D & G or Tommy Hilfiger. At a first glance the pieces looked very good, with a distinct Cartier and Piaget DNA, but tasteful none the less. No wonder, since RL has more than just good taste. I attempted several times to get the press kit and skip the presentation but with little success. One needed to sit through about 30 minutes of the presentation to get the kit. Little was I to know the almost unbearable torture they where going to subject me to.
Finally the presentation starts and it becomes apparent quite soon that somebody has clearly not done their homework. With a total disregard for potential customers and a blatantly superficial assessment of what watchmaking really means. I was speechless, but mainly sleepy. Was there any research done at all on any of these? I was still a little asleep for the Women's model (sorry it was early in the morning). After a bunch of pictures of pretty people... finally it was the turn of the one piece that caught my eye, the elegant ultra-slim Gentleman's gold watch. Interesting but flawed since the hour and minute hands are so similar that somebody with bad eyesight might have problems distinguishing them. Now, the absolute stunner... the price. This is when my head popped right out of my butt. 13,100 € (I guess it would be around the 18,000 in the US)! This for a men's watch that carries nothing but a shitty Ladies (small) Piaget movement!!! WTF! Who in their right f..ing mind would get this instead of a Calatrava by Patek or a classic piece by Breguet?!?
What sent me in a new dimension of pissed that I have rarely bee in before (at least at a press conference) was the Sport version. Which, by the way, is uglier than raising a hand to your own father... This one carried the very appreciated F.A. Jones calibre by IWC. The crown they designed for this lovely manual movement was polished to a whole new level of slippery. Very smart and thoughtful for the poor idiot that needs to wind it every other day. Unbelievable. The others have Jaeger movements. I would not be surprised if Jerome Lambert's balls shrunk the size of raisins when he saw where his movements where going! Mine surely would have.
Their idea is to have these three lines available at their Flagship stores world wide and exclusive high-end dealers. Yeah, keep dreaming. Dealers are not stupid. In fact one told me when walking by; "... I have the underwear and the shirt. Why would I want the watch?"
In any case, I doubt this will be around for more than three years. Considering the current economic situation and the price at which this rather poor effort has been placed I doubt it will make many future SIHHs. Expect to see a great upsurge in sales at first when placed in their stores world-wide. The real sell-out figures from the stores would be interesting to see.
P.s. If you think I am being harsh. Believe me, I had to go over this text several times and censor myself.