Out Of Africa: Testing The Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Bronze On Safari
The Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Bronze 42mm Limited Edition encounters some unforgettable wildlife in the UNESCO Manyara Lake National Park, including tree-climbing lions, majestic elephants, and bouncing bushbabies.
My first safari was all a bit of a disappointment. I was in South Africa for work and remembered having the opportunity to take part in an afternoon safari. I still recollect the disclaimer thrust into my hand as I got into the truck, absolving the company of any responsibility in the event of being dragged from the car by a wild cat or charged by an elephant.
I needn’t have worried; all we saw was a hare and the backside of a zebra poking out of a bush!
Taking the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Bronze 42mm Limited Edition into the Bush
Fast-forward a decade, and I am back in Africa for an extraordinary mission: A hands-on test of the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Bronze 42mm Limited Edition. What better way to test it than to take it exploring the planes and woodlands of Tanzania's Manyara Lake National Park.
By African standards, Manyara Lake National Park is relatively small at 330 square kilometers, with two-thirds of the territory being taken up by the lake itself. The advantage of this abundance of water is that it draws a crowd, and what a crowd it is: Lions, elephants, giraffes, hippopotami, baboons, monkeys, warthogs, wildebeests, buffalos and flamingos are just some of the animals enjoying this beautiful paradise.
Tanzania from the sky
Getting there is an adventure in itself. We take off from Dar es Salaam National Airport that resembles more of a bus station than an airport. Boarding passes haven’t been adopted here yet, and access to the airplane is granted by a woman with a clipboard with a list of names. The 12-seater plane was only supposed to make one stopover on the way North to Arusha but ends up landing in six different locations, often touching down on nothing more than dirt runways cut into the jungle. It is worth every stop to see the continually changing aerial views of the country as we pass over towns, grasslands, plains, rolling hills, and a stunning view of Mount Kilimanjaro.
I nervously check my Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Bronze 42mm Limited Edition as time is running out to make our connection in Arusha to Manyara Lake. Still, the friendly staff reminds us that this is Africa time, and there is always another plane going your way, and sure enough, it was.
On arrival, our safari guide Leonard is waiting to take us into the park for the start of a three-day safari adventure. The minute we drive through the main gate, we can see blue monkeys and baboons swinging from the trees, and during the short drive to our lodge, we see giraffes, impala, zebras, warthogs, and lions sleeping in the trees. This is truly a wildlife paradise.
As the sun goes down, the bronze case of the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Bronze 42mm Limited Edition takes on the most beautiful glow. I can't help but take a few wrist shots, much to the bemusement of Leonard, who is not yet aware of my important mission.
From the Calypso to the Aikon
In 2016, Maurice Lacroix released a quartz version of the Aikon collection to offer a more affordable option in the luxury sports watch segment. The Aikon was orginally modeled on the brand’s historic Calypso collection that had been hugely successful in the 1990s. Renamed the Aikon, the new collection kept the distinctive design codes of the Calypso, including the six clips on the bezel, the flat sapphire crystal, and a screw-in crown. Still, it showcased a far sportier and more contemporary aesthetic.
Two years later, Maurice Lacroix launched a much-awaited automatic version with a choice of a three-hand movement or a chronograph option. The Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Bronze 42mm Limited Edition that I have the pleasure of wearing is the three-hand version and comes with a deep blue dial featuring a motif with tiny squares. It is powered by the brand’s automatic ML115 caliber that has a 38-hour power reserve and is fitted with an easy-change blue calfskin strap that fits perfectly on my small wrist, despite its 42mm size.
As the sun goes down, we arrive at the Wayo Africa Green Camp, an eco-friendly camp that leaves minimal impact on the environment thanks to solar-powered lighting, reduced use of plastics, and its own water filtration plant. With over 20 years of experience, Wayo offers multi-activity safaris in some of Tanzania’s most unexplored regions, immersing adventurers in an authentic bush experience.
We are sleeping in a luxury tent with real beds and an ensuite bathroom, which has to be the ultimate in glamping. We are told, under no circumstances should we leave our tent until daybreak, which is a little disconcerting. The night is filled with the strangest of animal sounds from screeches and yelps to cackling hyenas and roaring lions. I sleep with one eye open, especially when the nocturnal bushbaby primates decide to use the roof of our tent as a trampoline, but I’m not complaining, it is an absolute thrill.
Walking safari along the lake
The following day we set off early for a walking safari along the shore of Manyara Lake, where we are accompanied by one of the park's rangers armed with a rifle, just in case. Being out of the van is a whole different experience as we see warthogs, zebras, and giraffes all around us. The animals start to follow us as we are told there is safety in numbers when the king of the jungle is around.
After about six kilometers, the ranger comes to an abrupt halt, a pride of lions is sleeping under a tree up ahead. His rifle swiftly comes off his shoulder, and his finger moves to the trigger. Now I'm scared. We slowly retrace our steps towards the road as other animals go charging past us away from the sleeping pride. We are told to walk slowly and not to run, which is excruciating as your instincts tell you to leg it for the hills. Luckily, the lions weren’t interested in a human snack.
Back at the camp, we were spoiled with a gastronomical dinner that is so delicious it defies all camping cooking logic, and we meet some of the other guests and exchange safari stories around the campfire. The Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Bronze 42mm Limited Edition glows in the flickering flames of the fire, and I reflect on how much I have enjoyed wearing this attractive watch. I am not quite ready to leave this magnificent place, or return the watch to its rightful owner, especially now that the bronze has an additional Tanzanian safari patina, I feel like it really should remain mine!
All The Details
Far and Wild (far and wild.travel; Tel: +44 (0)203 111 1315) can provide a six-day Northern Tanzania safari with Wayo Africa from £3,774 per person including international flights from the UK. This price is based on two sharing and includes transfers, a driver and vehicle, a guide, full board, drinks, and accommodation throughout. – farandwild.travel
Wayo Africa offers canoeing, biking and walking safaris led by expert guides who have unique access to beautiful remote areas within the iconic Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara, and Arusha regions. – wayoafrica.com
(Photography by Watchonista)