A Closer Look At Maurice Lacroix’s 2019 Novelties
I recently met up with Stéphane Waser, managing director of Maurice Lacroix, to talk about the brand and discover some of the new pieces on offer for 2019. Here are some of my highlights and favorites.
To start 2019’s watchmaking calendar, Maurice Lacroix quite literally pitched its tent on L'île Rousseau in the very center of Geneva. The giant modernistic villa-like tent was renamed "Rousseau Island" especially for the occasion. There we were given a warm welcome by the brand's managing director, Stéphane Waser, with the stunning panoramic view over the River Rhône and the Mont-Blanc bridge as our backdrop.
AIKON Automatic 39 mm
In 2016, Maurice Lacroix reworked its iconic Calypso model by launching the AIKON collection. Initially quartz-based, the range then expanded after 2018 with the addition of the AIKON Automatic, which we featured (HERE).
In a bid to expand the collection further in 2019, Maurice Lacroix is proposing the AIKON Automatic in a 39 mm diameter watchcase. This decision means that more modestly proportioned wrists, such as my own, now have an alternative to the 42 mm model. As Stéphane Waser himself stated, “developing new models doesn't necessarily mean having more references!" Although the brand is widening its range, it does so while avoiding too many variations. Within the space of three years, the brand has reduced the number of its references from 360 to 160!
In this diminutively-sized 39mm case, the strikingly powerful design of the AIKON is expressed to its fullest. I should point out that I cannot be completely objective and without bias at this stage, because as soon as I discovered the AIKON Automatic 39 mm, I immediately placed an order.
In an otherwise seemingly risky move, the dial complete with Clous de Paris finish echoes the calfskin strap, resplendent in a series of bewitching blues. As is always the case at Maurice Lacroix, the levels of execution and finishing are flawless, and all for a very attractive price (1,590.- CHF inclusive of tax). It also boasts remarkable ergonomics, mainly due to the discreet deployant buckle.
AIKON Automatic Chronograph "Panda" 44 mm, limited edition of 500 pieces
Another noteworthy addition is the limited edition AIKON Automatic Chronograph 44 mm with "Panda" dial. Three blue counters stand out in subtle relief on a silver dial. The whole effect is enhanced by the red hands, which lend this watch a certain mystique. Selling for CHF 2,950.-, this model is undeniably one of the most beautiful self-winding Swiss Made mechanical chronograph watches on the market.
MASTERPIECE Square Wheel Retrograde 43 mm
The pieces in the MASTERPIECE collection have always aimed to reflect Maurice Lacroix's innovation ideals. Offering enthusiasts both fun and original complications, the MASTERPIECES are prized by collectors in search of new dialogues and alternatives to classic complications.
Of all the astonishing new proposals, it is without a doubt the MASTERPIECE Square Wheel that makes the deepest impression. Seemingly a contradiction in terms, the animated display offered by this watch is nothing short of unique and almost surreal. This year, the brand is proposing a combination of elements that emphasizes the square wheel, associated here for the first time with a retrograde complication. Hands, markers and mechanical parts, finished in rose gold, stand out in raised relief on an anthracite dial decorated with vertical Côtes de Genève stripes. Chic is the word that springs to mind!
Available for purchase for 6,900.- CHF inclusive of taxes, the MASTERPIECE Square Wheel Retrograde 43 mm is an exceptional watch in terms of value, especially in light of the workshop-conceived and -produced mechanical components. In a pertinent move, a version with blue hands and grey dial has also been added for a totally different look. Once again, a strategic choice that warrants recognition. Clearly and understandably, the focus is on bringing added value to the watch's differential without the cost becoming prohibitive.
ELIROS hand-brushed dials
One last surprise comes in the brand's entry-level offering, namely two specific models in the ELIROS collection, each endowed with a hand-brushed anthracite dial. Available in the three-hand version selling at 690.- CHF, or quartz chronograph variant at 890.- CHF, these two pieces share in common a 40 mm case with a rose gold PVD finish. Again, the approach is clearly to make a point of proposing an affordable watch in a statement-making finish that is typically reserved for high-end models. The mix is a successful one, and the value appeal is enough to get any heart a-pounding.
But that's just the beginning...
These first models unveiled for 2019 confirm the brand's continued desire to develop its products along the guidelines laid out nearly four years ago, as Stéphane Waser, managing director of Maurice Lacroix, was quick to underline. He also added, "the 39 mm version of the AIKON Automatic was an obvious choice and totally in keeping with the strategy we instigated back in 2016". And who are we to argue...?
Other models have yet to be presented, such as the AIKON MASTERPIECE Mercury with its free hand display, or the AIKON Venturer, a classy urban sportsman's dive watch. We'll be getting a chance to test-drive these models later in the year, and no doubt other discoveries due to be rolled out in March 2019, when Maurice Lacroix will be holding court on the fringes of Baselworld.