Can a company famous for making good polo shirts make good quality watches too? We get asked this question a lot from first-time watch buyers. In this article, we answer it by looking closely at the Lacoste brand and the story behind its iconic reptilian logo.
Lacoste Brand History
Jean René Lacoste was a hugely successful French Tennis player who won 7 Grand Slam titles in the 1920s and ‘30s. He was also a fashion designer known for inventing the polo shirt. His love for tennis saw him create the tennis ball machine and the first steel tennis racket. Together with André Gillier, the owner and president of the biggest French apparel company at the time, he founded La Chemise Lacoste in 1933.
Lacoste SA; A Crocodile is Born
Lacoste has one of the most recognizable brand logos. And while it takes most fashion companies several years to achieve this, Lacoste became an instant hit, revolutionizing sporting fashion.
René Lacoste was nicknamed ‘the Crocodile’ because of how he dealt with his opponents. There are multiple versions of the story behind the nickname, but a 2006 New York Times obituary about Lacoste’s son, Bernard, holds more credence. During a trip to Boston with the French Davis Cup team, the legend goes, Lacoste made a bet with his coach over an alligator-skin suitcase he’d seen in a Boston store. He went on to win the Championship and asked his friend Robert George to design and embroider a crocodile logo on his blazer. The green crocodile came to life.
The 2000s: Enter the Movado Group
In 2006, Lacoste SA entered into a licensing deal with New Jersey-based Movado Group to manufacture and distribute Lacoste watches. The first Movado-inspired collection hit the market in 2007. Since then, Lacoste watches have come in many sporty and decorative styles, from the flashy and provocative to the esthetically subtle.
Interestingly, Lacoste was manufacturing watches long before the Movado partnership. It is not clear, however, as to when Lacoste watches debuted. It only receives a passing mention on Wikipedia as one of Lacoste’s many products added to its line-up in the 1990s. One source gives the date as 1993.
In 2012, Swiss family-held group Maus Frères SA acquired Lacoste SA. The Lacoste-Movado licensing deal was not affected.
Lacoste Watch Collections
When it comes to watches, we always say, if you dig it, get it regardless of the maker. Whether you are fashion or style-oriented, there’s a wide range of Lacoste wristwatches for both men and women to choose from.
The Lacoste Men’s San Diego could so easily pass for a minimalist watch. Despite a rather too conspicuous ‘Lacoste’ logo, the aesthetics on this timepiece is suitable for just about any setting, be it outdoors or office. The orange detailing on the second hand and date aperture is a nice touch, more so against the black dial. Not sure about an orange free loop. You may want to try this all-brown suede leather model.
With a 44mm stainless steel case and a mineral crystal glass, you can be sure to enjoy that shiny look for a long time. Its water resistance is rated at 50M—not your typical swimming buddy. Plus, you don’t want to ruin that beautiful brown suede leather strap.
The Women’s Lacoste Acapo Gold is a tribute timepiece. It is provocative and sensual, evoking good feelings of the colored polo shirts era. It represents a contemporary reinterpretation of the iconic designs that have given the green crocodile its world-renowned status for decades.
Though we are skeptical about the gold-plated 38mm steel case’s durability, we think it goes well with the pink silicon straps. The dial features a combination of large roman numerals and indices for hour markers. The sporty and outdoorsy vibe it exudes tells a story—one of versatility. Try the blue Lacoste women’s Acapo for a subtler yet aesthetically rich look.
With the realization that even kids need to showcase their energetic side, Lacoste has a kids’ watch collection. The Lacoste Kids’ watch is the perfect gift for your teenage daughter or son. The pink/blue rubber strap offers functionality and a matching visual appeal to go with it. You can bet on it to keep the watch on long enough.
The Lacoste Boston Quartz Chronograph comes in an elegant 42mm case with a stationary aluminum bezel. With a 50M-water resistance rating, this timepiece can withstand light splashing. A basic chronograph function, with an independent sweep second, can be used as a stopwatch. The silver hour markers and the crocodile, paired with an all-green dial, provide a nice contrast. The indices should have been embedded, as opposed to print, for better legibility.
The unisex Lacoste Berlin Quartz Watch is a timeless classic. Popular in the ‘70s, it’s recently made a comeback, winning the hearts of watch enthusiasts, old and young alike. It combines fun and functionality. Being a sport-oriented brand, Lacoste has done well to give its fans a chance to experience the ’70s aesthetic. The digital LCD dashboard, coupled with the multi-functions, invites you for an effortless time travel experience. It comes in variations of black, silver, and gold-plated stainless steel.
Lacoste Watch Brand Reputation
Lacoste is a company with a long and fascinating history. Sadly, Lacoste-branded watches are not as historically rich, and so, you’d be forgiven for being skeptical about owning a Lacoste wristwatch. Nevertheless, they fit nicely into the brand’s fashion and style sense, offering a wide variety of options for the brand loyalists.
When you hear the word ‘Lacoste,’ what comes to mind is the tiny but iconic green crocodile on the polo shirt’s left breast. In the 1960s, Dwight Eisenhower, then President of the U.S., was photographed golfing in a Lacoste polo shirt. This trend, which had begun back in the 1950s when Lacoste launched their colored polo shirts, peaked in the 1970s.
Following the hugely publicized conflict with China’s Crocodile Garments, they were forced to expand their offerings. Lacoste then had to deal with another wannabe fashion house—New Zealand-based Crocodile International. While we cannot possibly get into the legal specifics of these copyright feuds, we would argue that Lacoste has a reputation so solid, others want to ride on.
Is Lacoste a Good Watch Brand?
Lacoste’s success and a long-standing reputation for sporty designs are closely linked to their ability to play to brand strength. But when it comes to watches, they have been unable to tap into the company’s heritage, especially given their offerings’ diversity. They started as a single product-line company and were doing well until they diversified.
The decision to expand their offerings was not necessarily ill-advised, but, in doing so, they have failed to maximize their design potential in matters watches. Looking at their designs, we’d say they are all over the place. Their dress watch, for instance, is not the kind of wristwatch you want to wear in the boardroom.
Having said that, if you like the vibe of Lacoste and sporting the logo, although you might pay a slight premium over other more affordable brands.
We’d say that the men’s models and the rich coloring in women’s models offer most of us an aesthetic we would like to look for. What it lacks in heritage, it makes up for in status-signaling name and logo.
Where To Buy Lacoste Watches?
If there’s a department store carrying Lacoste-branded items near you, chances are you’ll find Lacoste watches in there.
Try Amazon for more choices and shipping options.
Is Lacoste a Luxury Watch Brand?
The vast majority of Lacoste timepieces are entry-level quartz, though there are a few automatic models. The latter also follow similar tastes and preferences as other fashion watches designed for the general market. Other than a big name, and a price tag to go with, they don’t have much going for them, luxury-wise.
Where Are Lacoste Watches Made?
Lacoste watches are designed and made in France under license from Movado Group. Watch observers have suggested that their quartz movements are sourced from Japan, yet others believe they are Swiss. The latter seems more plausible; otherwise, the Movado licensing deal wouldn’t make sense. They are just not marketed as ‘Swiss-Made.’
Movado wholly owns four other brands; Concord, Ebel, Olivia Burton, MVMT, and its flagship line, Movado. Their licensed brands include Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss, Scuderia Ferrari, Lacoste, and Coach.
We have a detailed Movado brand review article.
Lacoste Warranty Policy
Lacoste watches come with a 2-year warranty valid from the date of purchase. Lacoste’s product warranty policy is detailed enough, unlike those of most watch brands we have reviewed. You can still benefit from Lacoste Watches Service and Repair plans even past the warranty period, for a fee.