Maurice Lacroix AIKON Chronograph Skeleton 44mm
The Maurice Lacroix AIKON Chronograph Skeleton 44mm is the latest addition to the Maison’s incredibly popular AIKON collection. Despite Maurice Lacroix dazzling watch aficionados with the highly original, AIKON Mercury last year, the Swiss brand has chosen not rest on its laurels, unveiling yet another thought-provoking timepiece. Angus Davies enjoys a ‘hands-on’ experience with this overtly masculine watch.
The municipality of Saignelégier is located in the canton of Jura, a region synonymous with watchmaking. Beauty is omnipresent with verdant hillsides juxtaposed with cornflower skies and crystal clear lakes. Located in this picturesque setting is the Swiss Manufacture, Maurice Lacroix. The luxury brand has called Saignelégier ‘home’ since 1975.
The firm’s modern building features large windows, indulging the company’s employees with sweeping views of the landscape and encouraging sunshine to bathe work areas with natural light. It is the uniqueness of the brand’s environment which provides the ‘terroir’ for making fine watches, each with its own distinctive character.
Image – Masterpiece Chronograph Skeleton
‘Masterpiece’ is the ultimate expression of Maurice Lacroix ownership while ‘AIKON’ has proved a huge success for the firm, especially with millennials. Although several Masterpiece models encompass much technical complexity, attracting commensurate pricing, the Swiss brand took the decision from the outset that the AIKON models should share the same high quality materials and construction.
Close examination of each AIKON model, whether a simple automatic three-hand-date piece or one of the company’s chronograph or skeleton models, reveals a plethora of refined details. For example, the case is silky-smooth and free of any sharp edges. In addition, the brand has placed polished and brushed surfaces in close proximity while keeping each finish discrete. Indeed, this latter example necessitates much time and skill and to realise and should not be underestimated.
Now, Maurice Lacroix has released a new addition to its highly popular AIKON collection. As its name suggests, the AIKON Chronograph Skeleton 44mm pairs a chronograph with a skeleton movement, two horological genres very familiar to the Maison. Indeed, this is not the first time the brand has produced this tantalising combination. In 2016, the Swiss firm unveiled the Masterpiece Chronograph Skeleton 45mm featuring the ML206 calibre. This latter model remains a popular member of the brand’s Masterpiece collection. Moreover, it stands testament to Maurice Lacroix’s horological prowess and demonstrates its legitimacy for making this type of watch.
Without further ado, let’s examine the new Maurice Lacroix AIKON Chronograph Skeleton 44mm in close detail.
One glance at the dial of the Maurice Lacroix AIKON Chronograph Skeleton 44mm and the observer is left in no doubt that this is an über-masculine creation. The dial is overtly contemporary and the array of naked components provides a fascinating visual spectacle.
The luminescent hour and minute hands, along with the blue central chronograph, come to the fore. They stand apart from other dial elements, obviously eager to be seen. Two open-worked counters, a 30-minute chronograph register adjacent the crown and a small seconds display at 9 o’clock, occupy a significant portion of the dial. Actuating the chronograph causes numerous parts to engage in a slow-paced pirouette, a performance that proves mesmerising to watch. A minuterie frames the dial area and is complemented by a further minute track, positioned on the flange.
With the watch affixed to the wrist, the wearer is able to see the barrel sans cap, exposing the mainspring within. Likewise, the balance is freely shown, oscillating to and fro, pulsing with life.
The Maurice Lacroix AIKON Chronograph Skeleton 44mm brims with life and will sate the desires of the most mechanically curious individual. However, one potential problem of skeleton watches is that the numerous exposed parts can make the dial appear busy and inhibit readability. Thankfully Maurice Lacroix has been incredibly shrewd, using a blend of colours and textures to accentuate the various indications. For example, the counters and the four conjoined hour-markers are satin-finished and presented in a slightly darker shade than other dial elements. The sapphire mainplate, with its beam-like structures, is treated with black gold DLC, bestowing contrast and, as previously stated, ensuring the timekeeping elements stand out from the crowd. The deepest layer within the case is presented in light grey, again heightening contrast with neighbouring details. This clever pay with colour and texture augments lucidity.
The Maurice Lacroix AIKON Chronograph Skeleton 44mm is generously proportioned and housed in a stainless steel case. Consistent with other AIKON models, this particular watch subscribes to the brand’s fondness for pairing highly polished and satin brushed surfaces. Every straight edge is beautifully defined but without any suggestion of sharpness.
Maurice Lacroix has also incorporated the six-arm bezel design seen on other AIKON models. However, in this instance, each arm is endowed with Arabic numerals which prove especially useful for reading off elapsed periods. Despite the model’s powerful mien, the bezel is surprisingly slender. Furthermore, the aforementioned arms, extend beyond the bezel’s boundary and partially arc over the upper sapphire crystal. The resultant design proves cohesive and wonderfully plays with differing depths.
The chronograph pushpieces are hexagonal adjacent the caseband, stepping down to a narrower, dynamic, cylindrical inner core. The interplay of different shapes on this AIKON model such as straight lines, curved facets and hexagonal forms enriches the overall design composition. A further characteristic of this watch is the repeated use of different materials. For example, the crown features a crenellated black PVD surround with just a soupçon of gleaming brightwork peeping out.
Irrespective of where the wearer directs their gaze, they will discover a high quotient of quality. The strap is formed of black calfskin, featuring hand-sewn white stitching. It exhibits a textile-like appearance and feels incredibly sumptuous. Consistent with several other Maurice Lacroix models, the strap features the brand’s M Logo and includes the company’s Easy Strap Exchange System.
Maurice Lacroix has chosen to equip the AIKON Chronograph Skeleton 44mm with the same movement, the ML206 calibre, as the aforementioned Masterpiece Chronograph Skeleton 45mm.
This automatic movement features an array of refinements. The rotor is partially open-worked and embellished with Côtes de Genève motif while the movement is also rhodium plated and encompasses black gold DLC.
The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the rate is adjusted by altering the effective length of the hairspring. The movement features 25 jewels and will run autonomously for 48 hours.
The Maurice Lacroix AIKON Chronograph Skeleton 44mm could never be described as bashful. It is bold, neoteric and endowed with a multi-faceted torso. Its aesthetic appearance shuns the notion of perfunctory styling and demonstrates the value of considered, expert design.
The dial is rich in details, showcasing numerous components often hidden from prying eyes. However, despite the numerous dial elements it remains simple to read. This can be attributed to the skilful use of different colours and textures to create contrast, aiding legibilty.
When perusing each square millimetre of this composition, one is struck by the impressive materials employed and the luxurious execution of each facet of the case. Indeed, the quality-price ratio of this model would shame many similarly priced watches.
Maurice Lacroix has magically sprinkled horological fairy dust on this model with several delights awaiting the curious wearer. The strap is calf leather but resembles a textile weave. Furthermore, the strap can be easily swapped for an alternative without the need for tools. But perhaps, most of all, the dial indulges the onlooker with many components, positioned at different heights and as previously mentioned encompassing colour, texture and depth. In fact, this latter aspect is reminiscent of a fine painting, prompting to me question, “is this new watch really an AIKON or an artistic Masterpiece?”
One thing is beyond doubt, the Maurice Lacroix AIKON Chronograph Skeleton 44mm is a product of Saignelégier, a place where watchmaking expertise sits in harmony with the most beautiful landscape.
- Model: Maurice Lacroix AIKON Chronograph Skeleton 44mm
- Reference: AI6098-SS001-090-1
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 43mm; height 15.10mm; water resistance 20ATM (200 metres); sapphire crystal to front; sapphire case back.
- Functions: hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph
- Movement: Calibre ML206, automatic movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve 48 hours.
- Strap: Black calf leather with white stitching, easychange system, strap paired with a stainless steel folding clasp
- Price: £6,190 (RRP as at 26.3.2020)