* Prices may differ from that shown
I am blessed with the good fortune of having a fantastic husband and doubly blessed that he combines pretty good taste in presents with the ability to spot a well-dropped hint. On our way back from India last year, I spotted a really attractive Radley watch in the Virgin in-flight duty free magazine. I tried to be subtle - "Wow, now Radley are doing watches - that's just SO cute" - but I thought I'd been too subtle this time. The cabin crew went up and down the aisles and Tony didn't stop them so the opportunity had passed him by.
The well-dropped hint wasn't wasted as he subsequently went on line and tracked down a range of different Radley branded watches and, thanks to having a remarkably good memory, found the one that had been in the Virgin magazine and bought it for me. Radley intermittently go off in strange directions introducing products that are only peripherally linked to their core business of handbags and luggage and I was surprised to see just how many different styles of watch were available. These ranged from the rather lovely, to the 'a bit too obvious' and the 'not sure what on earth they were thinking of this time'.
Ever since my husband realised how pleased I was with the first Radley bag he brought me over a decade ago, I have been the lucky recipient of at least one and often two new Radley bags each year as well as having other Radley goodies like slippers (they no longer do them), pencil cases, an umbrella and other bits and bobs. Like many husbands, he's a man who spots a success and then keeps repeating it. He did once buy me a Mulberry bag which I didn't really like and I think he realised that and went straight back to Radley again. In those online surveys you see that are always trying to get consumers to say "This is a brand I understand and which understands me", Radley would be one of the few brands where I could tick the 'totally agree' button.
The watch I received is the RY2001 model which is exactly as in the photograph. What I like is that this watch combines some of the key branding elements of Radley - most notably the little Scottie dog - with a beautiful top quality leather strap and a pleasant easy to read face. The Radley watch range includes some weird things like a charm bracelet with a watch face on one of the charms but no leather at all. For me that watch stretches the brand too far. Some of the other watches just have a single Scottie dog in the centre of the watch face which seems just a bit too obvious and rather lazy design-wise. The RY2001 is more subtle; the dog is there - once on the face and four times on the leather strap - but he's hidden amongst other images, such as lanterns , bunting and playing cards. The dog is also hidden away in unexpected places as a very small pattern on the reverse of the strap, engraved onto the 'crown' (or winder) and on the reverse of the case.
The watch has a stainless steel case which is water resistant to 3 atmospheres which means you can wear it in the shower, or monsoon rain and it won't hurt if you forget to take it off when you're doing the washing up, but you shouldn't really swim or take a bath with it on. Even when I have waterproof rather than water resistant watches, I tend to take them off in the bath so this is no problem for me. Personally I want to protect the leather strap as much as possible.
The face has no numbers, just double steel bars to mark the 5 minute intervals. It has a second hand which ticks rather than glides and the steel hands are very easy to read (although at a quick glance I have been known to confuse the second and minute hands and mislead myself). My previous watch had hands in a colour very similar to the background and it could be really difficult to actually read whereas on this watch the bright reflective steel is set off well against the mostly black face. The face has a pattern of the dog, a lantern and part of a playing card but this is set to just one side of the face rather than filling it. At the centre top there's a little pink dog and the name RADLEY and LONDON beneath it. The buckle is stainless steel and marked 'RADLEY LONDON' on the top side and 'STAINLESS STEEL' on the underside. On the strap there's one fixed and one loose leather loop for the tail of the strap to pass through.
The leather strap has a very sober black background with a jazzy pattern in cream, brown, pink and blue overlaying the black. From a distance it looks like a 'sensible' watch which I like since I'm close enough to see that it's really rather fun without being too obviously frivolous. And not surprisingly since the strap is leather, it's fantastic quality leather as you'd expect from a leather-goods company like Radley.
The last watch my husband bought me was a rather horrifying Swatch which I did my damnedest to pretend I liked but which irritated me enormously with its brashness, it's uncomfortable strap and a tick so loud that I had to put the watch in a drawer at night or stick my wrist under the pillow in order to be able to sleep. My Radley is a much quieter beast and ticks so quietly that I have to really concentrate to hear it at all.
I cannot swear to the absolute accuracy of the watch as I travel so much that I'm constantly resetting my watches between time zones and accidentally adding or losing the odd minute here or there. I also tend to use the clock on my computer most of the time to make sure I'm not late for appointments. However, I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the watch.
~Time to look again at their strategy~
The price of the Radley RY2001 is £65 although you may be able to do better if you shop around. At the online watch shop www.watchdepot.co.uk I was horrified to find that there were 165 different Radley watches available which makes me question the sanity and stock-keeping skills of the company. I assume they've just licensed the name to a rather prolific watch making company but that's a crazy quantity of watches to make. Many of them are just bog-standard designs with nothing to tie the item to the brand at all. My guess is that Radley's venture into the world of watches will probably not go too well and in 10 years time a good example of a well executed Radley watch might be quite an interesting novelty to have in the drawer. However, I wouldn't give house or wrist time to most of them.
I was given this as a Christmas present by my boyfriend this year. I actually hadn't really thought about buying a watch because I don't wear one on a day to day basis. He very thoughtfully took into account that in January I was starting my final year teaching placement and would therefore need something to help me keep time in lessons and be on top of the school routine. This is the watch he ended up buying for me.
I haven't actually ever owned any Radley items before though I am familiar with the brand. They make lovely handbags and purses which are pretty popular. My Mum and my Auntie have both had bags from them before and the most noticeable thing about them is the quality. They have beautiful stitching, thoughtful design and each bag has the trademark little leather scotty dog, as well as other pretty little motifs.
This probably wouldn't be the brand I would immediately think of for a watch, in fact I didn't even really know they sold watches. Having looked at their site though it seems that they offer a good selection and that what is available is all really nice. They offer a fairly big selection and what is there is very varied, from leather and metal embellished watches like this to far plainer and more traditional designs. This is definitely one of my favourites though, so he chose well.
The watch face is edge in a silver coloured metal and has a circular shaped face. The background for the face is a beautiful dark or navy blue colour and in cream and purple there are little designs, including the infamous scotty dog and also featuring some lanterns and a playing card. I like the way the cream and navy combine together as these are really nice colours that will easy go with anything. I also think the silver is very practical as this is a metal I wear regularly anyway. There is also a fuchsia coloured Radley logo and tiny scotty dog in the top portion of the clock face which again adds a nice highlight.
There are three silver metal hands on this watch - hour, minute and second. They are distinguished by length for the hour and minute and then by width for the second hand. There are twelve silver markers on the clock face to indicate the hours, but no numbers. Though I am of the age now (23) where I can tell the time to a fairly proficient level I do sometimes find have 4 of the numbers helpful for when I am quickly glancing, that said the clock face is a decent size and the hour markers very clear against the navy background. There is a pull out and push cog on the side which allows you to stop and start the watch and change the time. This works exactly as it should and is very handy.
Covering the clock face is a thick and durable piece of glass. I find this is very easy to wipe clean, is very clear and doesn't cloud up like I've experienced with cheaper watches. Overall the appearance of the clock face is very elegant and feminine whilst still managing to be contemporary. I love the design of this part and have no real issues with using it to tell the time.
The strap of the watch is made from a beautiful soft leather. The inside is a light beige almost suede feeling material which is soft to your skin and sits very comfortably on my wrist. The outer side of the band is a smooth leather which is navy like the clock face. It also has the same cream embellishments of the dog and playing cards but there are additional shapes and motifs in purple, bright blue and fuchsia. I think the design is really playful, very tastefully done and absolutely lovely to look at close up or far away.
From further away the design looks more like a pretty pattern so if you aren't that keen on the dogs then this isn't so much of an issue. I actually don't really like dogs and am much more of a cat person but I still find the dog design very cute looking and very pretty on the watch band and block face.
The width of the band is a nice size and sits comfortably on my wrist. I do think that it would perhaps look a little more delicate were it slightly thinner but because of the size of the clock face this probably would create an imbalance in size which wouldn't look right. The proportion is very important and because this is oversized all over it looks good as a complete piece - and also makes your wrist look much smaller!
One of the nicest things about receiving this as a gift was that it came in a lovely little watch case. This is a circular prism shaped box which comes in a beautiful beige colour and has a padded silk lining inside to keep the watch safe. I think the box is very pretty with a gold Radley brand and logo on the top so I would happily keep the watch in here when I am not using it, or for travel so it doesn't get damaged.
This watch will set you back £65 and can be bought online or in store, though this may be slightly more expensive. Watchshop (which can be found online) where my boyfriend bought this one have a free delivery service and do a 30 day return policy on all items so it is nice to know that if you don't like whatever you buy there are options for changing it or refunding it. You can also find Radley being stocked in major department stores if you wish to have a look before you purchase.
I think this is a wonderful gift and is pretty reasonably priced for what is a gift that will last my many, many happy years of use. I also love receiving something that is both practical and pretty as I know I will get my money back from using it. Certainly this is one to keep in mind for your wife/sister/mother/niece/daughter when the next birthday comes up. I love mine!
Overall, this is a beautiful watch with a equally pleasant price tag.