Why the new 867 is the best watch Ralph Lauren has ever produced

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One of the perks of being a watch journalist – stop sniggering at the back, it is a thing, I promise! – is that if you spot something you quite like the look of, you can, depending on the watchmaker, and the exclusivity of the watch that’s tickled your fancy, arrange a few days of ‘wrist time’ for the purpose of ‘research’. But there’s always a risk. You might fall in love.

And you’ll know when you do. Because you’ll find yourself frantically listing things on eBay in a valiant, and usually vain, attempt to get the readies together to buy the thing. I talk from experience. The heartbreaker in question? Ralph Lauren’s latest 867. Not only is the watch definitely not what our American friends would call a ‘mall watch’, the 867 is a piece of genuine beauty. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the new 867 – the square-faced collection has been around since 2009 – is the best watch the American brand has ever brought to market.

Before we get into why, a brief recap of how we got here.

Ralph Lauren 867 watch new

© Justin Hast

In 2007 Ralph Lauren announced that it was entering a joint venture with luxury watch group Richemont, parent company to Cartier, Panerai, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin, among others. It was the first time Richemont had teamed up with a luxury fashion designer; and Ralph Lauren’s first experiment with mechanical watches.

Rather than simply being a licensing agreement, the 50-50 venture has yielded some technically-accomplished and artistically-realised watches. The Safari, for example, is a rugged, go-anywhere sports watch, while the dressier Stirrup has real vintage appeal. It is, however, the square-faced 867 that really stands out for me.

The latest model comes in two sizes, either 28mm or 32mm, and is available in 18-karat rose gold or sterling silver. Both options come with quick-change alligator straps. Inside is Piaget’s ultra-thin calibre 430P, a manual-winding movement that beats at 3hz and offers a 40-hour power reserve. As one of the most elegant watchmakers within the Richemont portfolio, the Piaget partnership is a natural fit.

The 867 is pure Art Deco and possesses charm in abundance. The dial is a lacquered off-white featuring alternating Arabic and large Roman numerals – a configuration, I think I’m right in saying, that’s unique to Ralph Lauren. The Breguet-style hands are another nice touch, working well with the font choices on the dial. The case is stepped from the bezel to the mid-case so as to look like a picture frame.

Ralph Lauren 867 watch new

© Justin Hast

Apparently, Mr Lauren is personally involved in the design of all the watches that bear his name, mostly because he simply loves watches. You can tell. The details on the 867, including the distinctive outer minute track and inner hour track, are just wonderful. It’s the sort of watch you wear and keep glancing back at, knowing that you’ll find something new to enjoy every time.

Both the Safari and the Stirrup are thoroughly well-thought-out timepieces, but it’s the square 867 that’s the real star of Ralph Lauren’s watch efforts to date. Now, if only I could find enough things to sell to acquire one myself.  

Ralph Lauren 867 watch new

© Justin Hast

RL867 Rose Gold 28mm, £13,300.00; RL867 Rose Gold 32mm, £14,600; RL867 Sterling Silver 28mm, £7,100; RL867 Sterling Silver 32mm, £7,200, ralphlauren.co.uk

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