Watches and Wonders 2021: new case materials and colours for staple ranges, plus new 'wild card' Aikon.

Maurice Lacroix is a Swiss brand established in 1975 that offers good value for money but is often overlooked in favour of brands such as Oris and Tag Heuer. Will their 2021 novelties help them gain a wider fan base?

The New Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Chronograph Titanium

The New Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Chronograph Titanium - Image credit: Maurice Lacroix

Maurice Lacroix’s Aikon automatic collection has proved to be popular for them and the range has expanded greatly since its introduction in 2018. But one thing has always been missing – titanium – until now that is!

Whilst the dimensions and overall design of the new titanium model will be familiar to lovers of the stainless steel version, the use of titanium, which is 50% lighter than steel, significantly reduces the weight of the watch and also brings quite a different aesthetic to the table. The case and five-link integrated bracelet of the watch are almost entirely satin finished, and the choice of a grey embossed anthracite dial continues the fairly sombre colour palate. The hour and minute hands are elegant and creased down the centre, with a strip of Super-LumiNova which runs for approx three-quarters of their length.

Relief from matt grey only really comes from the three blue sub-dials and the six polished decorative ‘bezel arms’. The blue sub-dials, comprising a 30-minute register, a 12-hour register and running seconds, feature concentric circle patterns (snailing) and have thin polished steel borders to the outer. Simple matching baton type hands complete the sub-dial package.

The watch is 44mm in diameter and water resistant to 200m (quite unusual for a chronograph) and of course is completely rust proof thanks to the titanium. The venerable ML112, aka ETA7750 movement beats away at 28,800 vph and will undoubtedly prove reliable. Maurice Lacroix don’t provide the overall thickness of the watch in their specs, instead choosing to describe it as having a ‘natural thickness’, whenever the hell that means! However, it's probably safe to say that it will be around 15mm, the same as the stainless steel chronograph.

The Automatic Chronograph Titanium will be a welcome addition to the range for some, but it’s worth noting that you’ll need considerably deeper pockets as it comes with a hefty price premium of over £1000.

Stats:

Reference: AI6038-TT032-330-1
Case Width: 44mm
Movement: Automatic ML112
Functions: Central hours and minutes, central chronograph seconds, 30 minute sub-register, 12 hr sub-register, day/date
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Case: Titanium
Water-resistance: 200m
Dial: Embossed anthracite with blue sub-dials
Strap: Titanium

Price: €3950
Availability: TBA

First thoughts

The New Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Chronograph Titanium - Image credit: Maurice Lacroix

Titanium can be a divisive material amongst watch enthusiasts, but Maurice Lacroix have used it wisely here, rather than just for the sake of it. The Aikon Chronograph is a large watch and the weight saving will be welcome by most as it should help the watch at least feel smaller on the wrist. The darker satin finish certainly brings something new to the Aikon range in terms of aesthetic too. It will appeal to those who have always like the design of the Aikon range but were waiting for something a bit less dressy with a sharper, more technical/tool watch vibe.

The New Maurice Lacroix Venturer Bronze Limited Edition

The New Maurice Lacroix Venturer Bronze Limited Edition - Image credit: Maurice Lacroix

If the titanium chronograph is the restrained but tough bigger brother, the new Aikon Venturer Bronze is its more showy and flamboyant sibling. Measuring 43mm in diameter, the new limited edition continues where the previous ones left off and not much is new here, save for the choice of dial colour.

The latest bronze Venturer is a limited edition of 500 and the dial is a rather lovely sunray brushed anthracite grey colour. The case uses a mix of brushed and polished finishing and unlike the chronograph, the six-arm bezel aids functionality here, allowing the wearer to get a better grip on the bronze rotating bezel with black ceramic inlay.

Being a dressy diver, the Venturer has a water resistance of 300m, which is more than enough for anyone. The bezel also features raised numerals on the arms at 10-minute intervals and a huge lume pip at 12 o’clock. The Venturer also features crown guards, and applied bronze-coloured indices filled with SuperLuminova.

Maurice Lacroix use a bronze alloy for the Venturer, which they claim will pick up patina, but without oxidising, so it will make a good choice for people somewhat ‘in the fence’ about bronze.

Like many other brands at the moment, Maurice Lacroix get a tick for supplying the bronze edition with two straps from the factory – a black custom designed rubber strap, and an anthracite leather strap with contrasting stitching. The straps both feature bronze hardware and are easy to swap out thanks to the brands Easychange system.

Stats:

Reference: AI6058-BRZ0B-330-2
Case Width: 43mm
Movement: Automatic ML115
Functions: Central hours and minutes, date
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Case: Bronze alloy
Water-resistance: 300m
Dial: Sunray brushed anthracite
Strap: Black rubber & anthracite leather

Price: €2490
Availability: TBA

First thoughts
I’ve got to admit, I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to bronze watches, and I was convinced it was a ‘fad’ that wouldn’t last. Brands like Maurice Lacroix however, continue to prove me wrong as presumably they must still be selling well. But whilst I’m not a fan of bronze, I have to say, it does work well here with the anthracite dial. The fact that the bronze is an alloy will also go some way to coaxing buyers in, who might otherwise be put off bronze by the horrendous pictures they’ve found online, posted by those embracing the ‘just dug up look’. It is priced competitively too for a limited edition of 500, with buyers having to stump up just an extra £600 or so over the standard steel version.

The New Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer 38mm

The New Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer 38mm - Image credit: Maurice Lacroix

And now, an Aikon for the ladies! Not my words, but those of the marketing team at Marucie Lacroix. I’m constantly perplexed at why, even in 2021, manufacturers feel the need to market a watch as being a ladies or a gents, but let’s save my thoughts on that for later.

A 38mm Venturer in and of itself is no bad thing, as buyers, particularly enthusiasts almost expect brands nowadays to sell key ranges in different sizes. Like it’s larger diameter siblings, the Venturer 38mm is water resistant to 300m and the case and bracelet are well engineered and use a mix of brushed and polished finishes. It features a white laquer dial and of course comes with the obligatory diamond indices. It’s kept fairly simple at least, although for a ‘dive’ watch legibility isn’t particularly strong, with a monochromatic palate providing little in the way of contrast. The bezel with white ceramic insert rotates, and the six ‘arms’ help aid easy rotation. The hands and 12, 3, 6, and 9 indices are lumed. Of course, as expected on a watch at this price point, the glass is sapphire.

The movement used is the ML115 automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve and VPH of 28,800, based on the Sellita SW-200. The watch comes supplied with an additional white rubber strap with applied logo.

Stats:

Reference: AI6057-SS00F-150-F
Case Width: 38mm
Movement: Automatic ML115
Functions: Central hours and minutes, date
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Case: Bronze alloy
Water-resistance: 300m
Dial: White lacquer
Strap: Five-link stainless steel bracelet and white rubber strap

Price: €2350
Availability: TBA

First thoughts
The Venturer 38mm is a good-looking watch with decent specs for a fair price. Legibility aside, it actually looks really great in white, and I don’t even mind the diamonds as they are at least done well and not too over-the-top. However, whilst I’m all for brands offering different sizes cases – the more the merrier I say - as alluded to above, surely it’s time that manufacturers just sold watches by size, rather than gender? It should be about choice, not assumptions. Surely the buyer will decide if it's for them? Also, I know from speaking to watch enthusiasts that many women would like to see smaller diameter watches without all the diamonds and mother of pearl! Many men with smaller wrists would I'm sure also love a 38mm Venturer, but when they only offered in diamond emblazoned white, it’s a bit, well, limiting.

The New Maurice Lacroix Aikon Master Grand Date

The New Maurice Lacroix Aikon Master Grand Date - Image credit: Maurice Lacroix

Maurice Lacroix has a penchant for pushing the boundaries more with its higher priced watches, which often feature more exotic complications and/or more avant-guard designs such as those found in the Masterpiece collection. These designs almost sit within an imaginary sub-brand. I tend to think of these watches as the designers' ‘Friday watches’ – when they are allowed to go a little bit wild on a Friday afternoon!

The new Master Grand Date is a great example of that. But rather than marketing it as a watch within the Masterpiece collection, it sits within the Aikon range. It therefore shares the same distinctive case design traits common to the collection, but with a larger 45mm diameter and a blue dial that is unique.

The dial design centres around the main feature of the watch, the brand new in-house movement and uses open-worked sections to bring a sense of animation to the watch when viewed on the wrist. It certainly has symmetry, but instead of symmetry split down the middle, it’s off-centre and runs diagonally from 8 o’clock to 2 o’clock.

Positioned at the 2 o’clock is the Clous de Paris hours dial with embossed grid pattern, presented in traditional format, with an open-worked running seconds counter placed directly below. The main hands are lumed and the running seconds hand features a red tip.

Opposite at the 8 o’clock is a stylish bridge and balance wheel visible through the sapphire glass. A large, framed, double date window sits at the 10 o’clock position and is designed to match the style of the Aikon’s bezel arms.

Like most of the Aikon range, the case and integrated five-link bracelet are angular and modern and feature brushed and polished finishes. The Aikon’s distinctive six arms can be found on the bezel. At the centre of it all of course is the new movement, the ML331. The ML331 is an in-house calibre with 50-hour power reserve, silicon escapment, high levels of finishing and custom rotor. Water resistance is a respectable 100 metres.

Supplied on the Aikon stainless steel bracelet, but with a cordura strap thrown in for good measures, in a deep blue to match the dial. The supplied straps are easy to swap out thanks to Maurice Lacroix’s EasyChange quick release system.

Stats:

Reference: AI6118-SS00E-430-C
Case Width: 45mm
Movement: Automatic ML331
Functions: Offset hours and minutes, double date
Power Reserve: 50 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Water-resistance: 100m
Dial: Embossed and sunbrushed dark blue
Strap: Stainless steel & blue Cordura

Price: 8,900 CHF
Availability: TBA

First thoughts

The open-worked display of the new Maurice Lacroix Aikon Master Grand Date - Image Credit: Maurice Lacroix

The Aikon Master Grand Date will now be one of Maurice Lacroix’s flagship models and is certainly one that has allowed the designers to stretch their legs a bit. It’s a great looking watch which will appeal for those who like quirky open-worked dials, but also appreciate symmetry. The in-house movement is a good looking one too, both from the back and the front. The older I become, I welcome large double dates too and kind of think ‘if you’re going to have a date, go all out and make it a feature, rather than include one that is apologetically sized'. It’s understandable that watches such as this need to be on the large size, but the Master Grand Date’s 45mm diameter and 15mm thickness is likely to have limited appeal, especially when it’s 9k price tag is taken into consideration.

The New Maurice Lacroix Pontos Chronograph Blue Sun

The New Maurice Lacroix Pontos Chronograph Blue Sun - Image credit: Maurice Lacroix

The Pontos has been a staple of the brand since the 2000 so I guess a blue dial variation was long overdue given the current popularity of blue watches.

The Pontos Chronograph Blue Sun uses the same case as those found in the existing models within the range and measures 43mm with a thickness of 15mm. The attractive case with slim, bevelled lugs and three-link stainless steel bracelet are predominantly brushed, with just the bezel, pushers and bevels left polished.

Elegant applied Arabic numerals, a distinctive sprialised crown and elongated chronograph pushers. The hour and minute hands are open-worked at the base an applied with SuperLuminova which runs the reminder of the length. The gorgeous deep blue dial has sunray brushing and the sub-dials are ‘snailed’ and surrounded by polished steel rings; a nice touch. A date wheel graces the 12-hour register at the 6 o’clock position, with a 30-minute register at 12 and running seconds at the nine position.

The movement is the tried and tested Automatic ML112 calibre, based on the ETA7750 and features a 42-hour power reserve and a frequency of 4 Hz. The Blue Sun is available on either a steel bracelet or a blue calf leather strap.

Stats:
Reference: PT6388-SS002-420-1 / PT6388-SS001-420-4
Case Width: 43mm
Movement: Automatic ML112
Functions: Hours, minutes, running seconds, chronograph seconds, 30 min register, 12-hour register
Power Reserve: 42 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Water-resistance: 100m
Dial: Sunray brushed dark blue
Strap: Stainless steel or blue leather

Price: from €2690
Availability: TBA

First thoughts
The Pontos is a fine looking chronograph and nothing changes in that regard on this latest release. Let’s face it – it’s a Pontos with a new dial colour! It must be said though that Maurice Lacroix have used a gorgeous colour and it’s sure to be popular within the range. You know what you’re getting with the Pontos, and that is a reliable, attractive chronograph which is competitively priced and well executed. I particularly like the elegant applied roman numerals and steel band that surrounds the sub-dials. It’d just be nice to see them offer it in a 41mm case.

Final thoughts
Like many of the 2021 Watches and Wonders releases, besides the Master Grand Date, Maurice Lacroix haven’t really offered anything ground-breaking. They haven’t introduced any entirely new ranges, but they have instead chosen to offer more choice by way of material choices and dial variations. For me personally the Aikon Chronograph Titanium is the most successful release. People are often put off by large, heavy chronographs, so using titanium to help minimise the heft just seems to be common sense. The Master Grand Date is perhaps the being the most exciting and it’s nice to see Maurice Lacroix keep up its wild side!

Find out more by heading over to the Maurice Lacroix website.