Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton
Angus Davies gets ‘hands-on’ with the Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton, an accessibly priced, open-worked Swiss timepiece.
This detailed review of the Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton includes live images, specification details and price.
The human mind is incredibly complicated. A psychiatrist will devote much time trying to appraise a patient’s mind, eager to learn about the various thought processes taking place. Unlike the treatment of a broken limb, mental health issues are more challenging to diagnose. Indeed, when it comes to the human mind, there remains much we don’t know.
Just in the way the mechanics of the mind prove fascinating, the thought processes of a watch can prove intriguing to horophiles. Appraising the movement of a watch via an exhibition case-back can sometimes reveal several components usually hidden from view. The oscillating weight, the balance wheel and the pallet lever are just some of the dynamic components which are exposed on some mechanical watches fitted with an exhibition case-back.
However, for a complete insight into the psyche of a watch, an openworked timepiece is the only option. Maurice Lacroix has recently unveiled the AIKON Automatic Skeleton, a watch that openly showcases each element of its inner mind. This watch is simple to understand because it shares everything with its fortunate wearer. However, while the Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton discloses everything, its complex make-up remains intriguing.
To create a skeleton watch, each element is paired back. Only the essentials are retained. Nothing is superfluous. The main-plate is open-worked, granting sight of various movement components. However, consideration has to be given to the material which is left behind. Should too much material be removed from the main-plate or essential metal discarded from load-bearing areas, the strength of the movement will be compromised. There is no substitute for expertise in the field of open-worked watches.
When it comes to making skeleton watches, Maurice Lacroix has much experience. Over the years, it has made several skeleton timepieces, often bearing the ‘Masterpiece’ nomen. Masterpiece is the pinnacle of Maurice Lacroix ownership. Virtually all Masterpiece models contain manufacture movements and harness superb design and cutting-edge know-how. The new Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton combines the craftsmanship of Masterpiece models with the eye-catching aesthetics of the AIKON collection.
The baton style hour and minute hands express the prevailing time with intelligible aplomb. An inherent problem with some skeleton watches is that the background can prove busy, impairing ease of read-off. Thankfully, no such issues afflict the Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton and courtesy of the luminescent treatment applied to the hands, the proclamation of time also proves impressive in dim light conditions.
The indexes appear to float above the dialscape, heightening visual interest and cleverly manipulating different dial depths. Each index features a v-shaped profile, accentuating the brilliance of each hour marker.
A small seconds display is positioned above 6 o’clock. The white scale is applied to the underside of the sapphire crystal conferring a sense of lightness.
Five, curved black bridges, coated with black DLC, emanate from the barrel located at 1 o’clock. The stealthy hue of the bridges provides the perfect foil for the various movement parts to shine.
Various movement components are visible from the dial-side of the watch. For example, the silver-coloured hour and minute wheels can be seen near the fulcrum of the dial. The cover plate for the winding mechanism is openworked and the castle wheel can also be seen. Personally, I like the view of the mainspring in various states of tension and the partial view of the balance wheel, pallet lever and escape wheel. This is a watch made for horological voyeurs.
Recently, I reviewed the AIKON Automatic and the AIKON Chronograph. A trait common to both of these watches is the impressive case execution. Highly polished and satin brushed finishes are positioned in close proximity to glorious effect. Juxtaposing two different finishes presents a challenge to the watchmaker, namely ensuring each finish is discrete. To achieve this desirous result necessitates skill and time and, by default, increases cost. Nevertheless, Maurice Lacroix clearly felt the cost was justified and I share their opinion.
The Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton is endowed with the same contrasting finishes as its aforementioned siblings. The ‘arms’ on the bezel, the flank of the bezel and the bevelled edge of the case and lugs are highly polished and gleam resplendently with the merest hint of ambient light. The remaining case surfaces are vertically brushed, granting a restrained appearance. While contrast is ubiquitous, the overall aesthetic is harmonious.
Measuring 45mm in diameter, the scale of the Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton confers much wrist presence. However, this watch does not appear large when affixed to the wrist. I suspect the reason for this characteristic relates to the short lugs and the close interaction between the strap and case.
While this watch could not be described as ‘ultra-thin’, measuring 13mm in height, it does appear slender. A reason for this perception of svelteness relates to the prominent case-band which dominates the lateral view with the sides of the bezel and case-back proving less obvious.
The design of the Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton is clever. It exploits volumes, finishes and the ingenious case/strap union to mitigate the perception of scale. However, by creating a generously proportioned watch, the dial is simple to read and the naked movement components are clear to see.
This timepiece is equipped with the Maurice Lacroix Easychange system. ‘Fast-swap attachments’ allow the wearer to remove the strap without tools and exchange it for an alternative. Each end of the strap features two ‘M-branded’ prongs which release the strap from the case. Refitting the strap is merely a case of pushing the strap attachment into the gap between the lugs until it clicks into position. The system proves highly intuitive to use and proffers versatility while still ensuring a steadfast marriage between strap and case.
The Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton is fitted with the new manufacture ML234 calibre. The frequency of the balance is 18,000 VpH (2.5Hz) and the movement contains 34 jewels. The sole spring barrel delivers 52 hours of autonomous operation.
The rear view of the movement is spectacular. Quite often, open-worked watches are hand-wound in order to provide an unhindered view of the various movement components. Unusually, this timepiece is automatic, making it ideal for daily use. The oscillating weight is open-worked conferring sight of many components underneath.
Despite the comparatively modest price of the Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton, £4,970.00 (RRP as at 16.7.2018), the watch is enriched with many high-end details. The bridges are embellished with Colimaçon and feature gleaming bevels. The jewels sinks are highly polished and the movement includes a screwed-balance.
Both the transmission and ratchet wheels are open-worked and feature a 5-spoke design. Part of the gear train is also visible. The balance cock is skeletonised and equipped with an index adjuster. The design of the movement yields a visual lightness.
The Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton is fascinating to behold. Both the front and rear views show the movement is composed of numerous layers. This horological strata grants a spectacular three dimensional allure.
A reoccurring characteristic of the watch is the visual lightness of the dial. Delicate, small parts vie with each other to attract the wearer’s attention. However, the word, ‘delicate’ should be qualified as the secret of Maurice Lacriox’s expertise is understanding how to deliver visual lightness without compromising the rigidity necessary for reliable operation. Furthermore, despite the numerous parts manifest, the lucidity of the dial is excellent.
The case is beautifully executed, blending different finishes while delivering a cohesive whole. The Maurice Lacroix Easychange system allows the wearer to exchange the standard fit alligator strap for a bracelet, or alternatively-hued strap. This system is user-friendly and obviates the need for fiddly tool-wielding. While all of these traits are welcome, perhaps the most impressive attribute of the AIKON Automatic Skeleton is the sublime ergonomic union between the watch and its wearer.
Maurice Lacroix has embraced the high standards of quality implied with the ‘Masterpiece’ name and combined these attributes with the AIKON’s handsome design codes. The end result is superb.
Quality is often a function of price. The Swiss watch brand has bucked this trend, delivering an impressively specified watch at a very affordable price. The allure of the AIKON Automatic Skeleton requires no further analysis, its appeal is obvious.
- Model: Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 45mm, height 13mm; sapphire crystal to front and caseback; water resistant to 10 ATM (100 metres).
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds
- Movement: ML134 caliber; Self-winding movement; frequency 18,000 VpH (2.5Hz); 34 jewels; power reserve 52 hours.
- Strap: Black alligator leather strap with Easychange system
- Price: £4970 (RRP as at 16.7.2018)