Ralph Lauren produced serious wristwatches from 2010-2018, then went on a hiatus until reemerging with Polo Watches in 2020.
A significant amount of companies enter the watch market each year but with the ultra-competitive landscape, few new entrants will survive more than five years.
On one hand, the high number of entrants makes sense because of the ease with which watch components, including the movement (or motor), can be outsourced from third-party suppliers. Companies from China contact Professional Watches every week asking if we need watch components, or entire watches produced for us, and we don’t even create or sell watches — which underscores the ease with which making watches can be done remotely.
On the other, brands such as Rolex and Omega, together account for more than a third of the entire worldwide share of the Swiss mechanical watch market, according to Morgan Stanley estimates for 2021. And when you add in the other well-known watch brands such as Patek Philippe, Cartier, Breitling, Audemars Piguet, and so forth, you’re left with very little market share to fight for.
Enter Ralph Lauren watches, which is not a startup microbrand making calls to China to have their watches produced at the lowest price possible (although they may be doing so for their cases). And they have the funding and the brand name to actually compete — yet they’ve still struggled to make the desired impact, or else why would they have gone quiet for so long with their watch division?
Well, they’re back and going to make another run at it. With the soft launch of The Polo Watch collection in 2020, it was clear they were headed in a new, less serious direction, with the watch division. And now, with this new set of renamed Polo Player Watches, which are the same Sellita SW200 automatic powered watches that came out in 2020, now with new vibrant rubber straps for the summer — it appears the direction is more towards the fashion end than the watch enthusiast side of the market.
However, in speaking with Ralph Lauren’s public relations team this morning, we were told that come September, a new collection will be coming in September 2022 and that Ralph Lauren will be “reintroducing RL Watches & Jewelry department worldwide with more substance.”
Photo by Polo Ralph Lauren.