All of the Ralph Lauren RL Automotive collection timepieces have one thing in common, and that is a use of real wood on the dials or bezels. To date, Ralph Lauren does not yet have a model with a wood bezel as well as wood on the dial.As a subset of the larger Sporting watch family, the Ralph Lauren RL Automotive watches share the same basic case shape and overall theme. The Sporting collection has birthed other sub-families of watches such as the Ralph Lauren Safari as well.
What works so well about the Amboyna burl wood bezels is that the wood material is not placed under a sapphire crystal and can be touched. There is a tactile pleasure in having the ability to feel and sense the wood with its warmth and texture that I think is very valuable in having wood be on the outside of the watch.
Each of these two watches comes in a 44.8mm-wide by 11.2mm-thick steel case which is water-resistant to 50 meters. Both are PVD-coated in black and given a bead-blasted finishing, which I like, as it contrasts with the glossy alligator strap and lacquered finishing on the wood. The non-skeletonized version also comes in a natural, brushed steel case with a matching steel bracelet.
The RL98295 manually wound movement produced for Ralph Lauren by IWC is a vintage-style mechanism operating at 2.5Hz (18,000bph) with 45 hours of power reserve. Relatively basic, being produced from 156 parts, movements like this are specifically designed as homages to the past. I think it is nice but would prefer a slightly more modern movement, personally – even if it is simple in its execution.
That same movement, however, gets rather uniquely transformed in ValFleurier for the Ralph Lauren RL Automotive Skeleton watch and is renamed the caliber RL1967. Was it necessary to rename the movement that much? The movement is given a unique skeletonization treatment because much of the movement parts mimic the matte black finishing of the case.
The wood bezels of these Ralph Lauren RL Automotive watches are uniquely made and screwed to the case. Their colors and textures are really nice and are easily the highlight of these timepieces.
Wood watches these days are quite popular – especially at the low end. There are a number of inexpensive watch makers with products (mostly produced in China and other parts of Asia) selling timepieces in full wooden cases with wood dials and even bracelets for a few hundred dollars (or even less).
You have some lovely color contrasting thanks to the brass and steel parts of the movement, along with red synthetic rubies. While I like the look of the RL1967 and agree that it is very photogenic, I wouldn’t describe it as the type of skeletonized movement that has a “luxurious feel” to it. It lacks the appearance of meticulous hand-finishing or decoration, it doesn’t use any precious metals or other materials, and it isn’t particularly complicated. No doubt it was complicated to make, but so are other skeletonized watches and some of those that look amazing cost the same or less.