With the competition getting hotter and hotter with every Baselworld, is there still a hope for a diver released five years ago?
It's a relatively fair assumption to make that the majority of watch collections have at some point featured at least one diving watch. Whether it was your first watch and you swiftly moved onto building a Jaeger-LeCoutre collection, or you are 50+ diver watches strong and a soft lume glow appears from your watch box at night. Due to this popularity, there is an extremely high level of competition at almost every price point. Diving watches seem to be the main types of watches where stat by stat comparisons are made between enthusiasts, so offering value for money is crucial. One of the most highly competitive price points is the £1,000 - £5,000 mark.
The Maurice Lacroix faces stiff competition at this price point from Tudor, let alone other watch brands...
Models that come to mind include offerings from Tudor such as the Black Bay range and Pelagos, the Seiko Marinemaster, Omega with their iconic Seamaster, the Longines Legend Diver, Tag Heuer Aquaracer, Bremont Supermarine, Breitling SuperOcean and pretty much any diving watch from Oris (I could go on and on, but you get the point). One watch from a relatively young brand you don't hear much about (unless you're tuned into the diving world) is the Pontos S from Maurice Lacroix.
The Pontos S was actually introducing five years ago at Baselworld 2013. At the time it was received with great praise from many members of the press for its touches of vintage design throughout the piece (something we're pretty accustomed to nowadays...). Since then the Pontos S has gone on to add a chronograph diver to it's offering in many accented colours and a stealthy black cased option. Maurice Lacroix only started producing watches in the 1975 so they are very much a young company when compared to the competition in Longines (1832), Omega (1848) and Seiko (1881).
The automatic movement powering the Pontos S Diver is the ML115 which is based on the Sellita SW200. Anyone who knows their stuff with watch movements will know that this is based on the ETA 2824-2 which means a few things. Firstly, it's a very solid, reliable movement choice which commonly features in many watches. Secondly, it's popularity means any servicing requirements in the future shouldn't be ludicrously priced or difficult to complete. And finally, its 28,800 frequency and 38-hour power reserve is a familiar, usable amount for avid mechanical watch fans. Customers looking to spend around the price tag the Pontos S is asking may desire something a little more in this department than a modified SW200, did someone say co-axial master chronometer?
Coming in at 43mm wide, 15mm thick and with a lug to lug distance of 51mm the Pontos S does have some size to it. One key feature however of this watch is its steep lugs. After just a few mm, the lugs on the Pontos S take a steep dive down to the wrist which it hugs surprisingly well. For a piece which on paper is very large and bulky, the watch wears refreshingly well. Sure I prefer the Oyster case, however, on my 7 1/4 inch wrist, I'm pleased to report that I didn't find the Pontos S too overwhelming.
One aspect of the Pontos S I did and, still do appreciate is its classic dial layout with its ability to look fresh and unique. Maybe something the Aikon could learn from, but the Pontos S has a very familiar feeling to it without feeling like it's piggybacking off the success of other popular models from the luxury watch world.
A long lost brother? - The Aikon From Maurice Lacroix seems to look heavily towards Mr Audemars and Mr Piguet? - Image credit Maurice Lacroix www.mauricelacroix.com
The flat matt dial in day to day use is a relatively standard feature, however, take the Pontos S into direct sunlight and its very slight grain texture picks up and plays with the sunlight, a nice touch. One of the stand out features of the watch is that inner rotating bezel. For most day to day wear, or your man on the street its a pointless addition, however for watch enthusiasts or people looking to actually use the piece diving, its a very tactile, purposeful addition.
By simply unscrewing the second crown on the side of the case the crown then pops out and the bidirectional inner bezel can be adjusted to the desired position. Whether you're keeping track of time deep underwater, or you just use it to work out how much longer your Sunday roast dinner needs in the oven, setting the bezel on the Pontos S is a fun little feature of this watch.
Of course, the main benefit of this is so when you're diving there is absolutely no chance of the bezel being knocked out of place because of the screw down second crown. On the topic of actually diving, this Pontos S can be taken 600m down coming with a helium escape valve if you were ever in doubt of this watches capabilities.
When testing the Pontos S on the small Greek island of Paxos (swimming pools, boat rides and beach bars, not exactly the ultimate endurance test for the Pontos) I found myself using the bezel quite a lot actually and I did find the added step of having to unscrew the second crown to adjust the bezel quite enjoyable. If you were ever in doubt I quite like my watches...
Can confirm genuine sea water spray on the Pontos S - I knew the 600m water resistance would come in handy...
On the topic of small details, The Pontos S has subtle touches of red throughout the dial adding just the right amount of style. From my real life experience with the watch I didn't find the red additions necessarily help with legibility in bright daylight or underwater, however I'm a big fan of the slim red lines above each indices on the rehaut, this addition really helps the watch have more depth and act as a subtle feature to make the watch wear a little smaller on the wrist.
Let's talk replacement watch straps...
The Maurice Lacroix we received at WatchGecko came on a black leather military style strap with contrasting stitching and signed Maurice Lacroix buckle. Naturally, one of the first things I did with the watch was instantly start thinking of other straps to fit on the watch. The standard strap is, however, worth mentioning as although a little too thin for the PS's 15mm thick case, after many tests we can confirm it doesn't absorb water at all and is also pretty long, something many people who enjoy larger watches or someone looking to use this watch over a wetsuit will appreciate.
For the testing of this watch, there were three main straps I found myself gravitating towards each offering something a little different depending on the occasion. First up, for more smarter wear and an evening look, a classic Geckota leather strap in the form of our Simple Handmade Leather strap.
These straps normally end up on 90% of watches I fit to my wrist mainly down to their substantial Italian leather used which over time, will absorb natural oils from your skin to gradually get softer, showing signs of the journey you take with both watch and strap. The solid buckle featured on these straps is a pleasure to use and perfect for quick adjustments between holes on the strap as the evening temperature changes. Chocolate Brown is my go-to choice with this strap as it always seems to look great with black dial.
Premium Swiss Style by ZULUDIVER
For more day to day wear, our Premium Swiss Style was my pick of the bunch. This military style strap is fitted with chunkier hardware when compared to our standard military style which really suits the Pontos S. With plenty of holes for adjustments on the go and a floating keeper, our Swiss Style range is ideal for the warmer months. I tried a few options on the watch but the one I kept finding myself coming back to was the Classic Bond option. As the name suggests, this classic striped military style option really emphasises this watches modern design and since variations of the Pontos also come with striped nylon military styles, I think it was a combo meant to be.
Tropic Rubber by ZULUDIVER
Finally, I wanted something tough that can handle anything, easy to adjust as my skin expands with the heat and also, most importantly suit the watches style. The first strap that seemed the logical choice was our ZULUDIVER Tropic Rubber Strap. A personal favourite of mine because of its ability to be practical, stylish and comes with the added bonus of historical importance and relevance in its corner. This strap held up perfectly from sea exploring to mountain hiking with ease.
Naturally picking three straps wasn't that easy, so here are a couple of other honourable mentions that didn't quite make the list, but any other day of the week they would:
Premium Scuba Diver by ZULUDIVER
Much like the Tropic the Premium Scuba Diver strap offers practical comfortable style with a good array of adjustment options. A big benefit of this strap is the high quality, angular buckle that comes fitted to the strap as standard with a mixture of polished and brushed finishes. It was a close tie between this strap and the Tropic. And based on the above picture I'm sure you can see why!
ZULUDIVER Cordura® Diver
This is a great option if rubber straps are not normally your preference and you're also really looking to test the Maurice Lacroix. The Cordura Diver straps use genuine Cordura fabric which has been lined with Lorica. This is a material which is breathable, lightweight, pliable and comfortable against the skin. The Black and Red option was the one I went for to pick up on those red touches on the dial, and immediately when fitted to the watch it was clear this combo was meant to be.
So wrapping up my time with the Pontos S, I actually found myself enjoying this piece more then I thought I would. The clean, unbroken symmetry of the dial layout is a huge positive. Welcomed additions such as the inner rotating bezel, touches of red and style of the date window font and text on the dial add further 'ticks in boxes' for people looking to add a unique diver to their collection. This watch acts as a fantastic example that statistics including case size and thickness on paper may sound one way, but in the real world, it's a completely different story...
Competition at this price point will always be rife, but if you're in the market for something a little different, a little more unique and a lot more capable than 200m,300m and even 500m diver watches, the Pontos S from Maurice Lacroix is the watch for your wrist.
Find out more about Maurice Lacroix and their collection at www.mauricelacroix.com