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Ralph Lauren introduces the Polo Bear Watches collection

Ralph Lauren introduces the Polo Bear Watches collection

Continuing his 50th anniversary celebration, Ralph Lauren is launching the Polo Bear Collection, which combines Swiss watchmaking with the Polo Bear — a favorite icon in the designer’s world.

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The collection represents the first time Lauren has created timepieces specifically for the Polo brand.

The four bears that are featured are Flag Bear, Martini Bear, Preppy Bear, and Spectator Bear, each inspired by his personal style and retailing for $2,000 a piece.

In an interview at his Manhattan office last week, Lauren said the idea of the watches was just for fun. They’re not smart watches, nor are they rife with complications such as minute repeaters, chronograph, time zones or moon phase.

“It’s purely a fun project. It was not about who’s out there and what are they doing” said Lauren, chairman and chief creative officer of the $6.2 billion Ralph Lauren Corp.

Asked why he chose now to launch Polo Bear watches, Lauren said there was a lot of activity around the 50th anniversary, and it seemed like an appropriate time.

The Polo Bear has been a constant theme at the company for over 25 years.

In 1991, the Polo Bear was introduced with 200 limited-edition bears produced by Steiff, the German toy manufacturer, and dressed in miniaturized Polo Ralph Lauren apparel. Since then, the stylish bear has appeared as embroidery, prints and patches on a variety of items, from neckties to sweaters.

Lauren anticipates that these four unisex watches will evolve into other bears, as well as other designs under the Polo banner.

Taking a page from the first piece Lauren designed, the necktie, each watch can be customized with interchangeable straps crafted from necktie silk twill patterns as well as options in French calfskin or exotic alligator.

The buckles on all the watches are a stainless-steel pink buckle, engraved with Polo while the case includes a commemorative 50th anniversary plaque set over the rotary.

Manufactured in Switzerland in partnership with Compagnie Financière Richemont, the watches will be distributed exclusively to select Ralph Lauren stores and the Ralph Lauren web site, beginning next month.

A collection for kids could be a possibility down the road. “I’d like kids to have it. That might be next,” he said.

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Lauren said they made the decision to put the Polo Bear watches into the new Polo watch division, rather than the Ralph Lauren watch division for a specific reason. “There is a charm to Polo watches and a price difference. The Polo Bear is a younger, more sporty, fun watch, and it felt more like Polo,” he said.

The price range of Ralph Lauren Watches is from $1,500 to $99,500.

With all the interest with Polo Bears, Lauren said he would consider doing stuffed animal bears as a category. “We might. It could be the beginning of something. You might see them on television,” said Lauren, but quickly added he has no plans to do a TV show with the Polo Bears.

Speaking of television, the conversation turned to a Lauren documentary that will appear on HBO early next year directed by Susan Lacy.

Having spent the last few months celebrating 50 years of the Ralph Lauren brand, the designer was asked what’s on deck for the next 50 years.

“I think I accomplished 99 percent or more that I ever dreamt of.” he said.

(Source: WWD)