Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Rétrograde 43mm
The Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Rétrograde 43mm is a new release for 2021. This watch features high-end habillage, encompasses an in-house module and upholds the Swiss brand’s reputation for making retrograde indications.
In 1975, Desco von Schulthess began marketing watches under the ‘Maurice Lacroix‘ brand name. Previously, the company had focussed solely on making private label watches. With a number of years under its belt, Maurice Lacroix released the highly popular Calypso model in 1990. It was perfectly in tune with the times, however, after successive updates the accomplished design of the original was lost. In 2016, the Swiss brand revisited the Calypso and released a reinterpretation of the model, the Aikon. This watch has proved a resounding success. It blends sublime styling with an impressive quality-price ratio.
This notable value is not restricted to the Aikon model alone. Indeed, the Swiss brand has been delivering ‘high perceived value’ for many years. In 1992, Maurice Lacroix unveiled its inaugural Masterpiece model, the Cinq Aiguilles. The five-hander provided a foretaste of what was to come. Masterpiece, the epitome of Maurice Lacroix ownership, democratised high-end watchmaking, something that has remained an attribute of the brand ever since.
Over the years, the brand has equipped numerous Masterpiece models with in-house movements or paired third-party movements with its own in-house modules. Its design prowess has been recognised again and again with the Swiss firm receiving a plethora of reddot design awards.
In 1999, the Swiss marque unveiled the first version of the Calendrier Retrograde. The original model featured the ML76 calibre based on a Unitas 6498/1 movement. Ultimately, the watch was equipped with a Manufacture movement (ML 190 calibre). Since releasing the first Calendrier Retrograde, Maurice Lacroix has produced numerous retrograde models, including the Double Retrograde and last year’s Square Wheel Retrograde. Today, Maurice Lacroix is a leading exponent of retrograde indications.
Recently, the Jura-based brand unveiled a new creation, the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Rétrograde. Housed in a steel 43mm case, this watch stands out courtesy of its triple retrograde indications. However, the brand’s disciples can relax, as there are many familiar Masterpiece attributes to this new stunning timepiece.
The Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Rétrograde is available in two dial variants, anthracite or silver. Surprisingly, the personality of each watch is markedly different. The anthracite dial encompasses Côtes de Genève motif, snailing and gleaming golden hands and indexes. The second dial variant combines Clous de Paris, bead-blasted surfaces and blue hands, indexes and accents. Personally, I prefer the latter option as it looks cleaner and fresher, however, both options offer much eye-appeal.
Clearly, it would have been cheaper if the Swiss brand had opted for one finish in two colourways. For example, by adopting Côtes de Genève motif and snailing for both colour variants, Maurice Lacroix could have enjoyed economies of scale. However, throughout each composition, there is an overriding sense of quality. This review will focus on my preferred model, the silver dial option.
The hour and minutes are indicated with blue lancine-style hands. A second timezone is displayed beneath noon, employing an arcing, retrograde display. It would have been easier to take the usual approach and fit a third coaxial hand, but the retrograde indication confers a wonderful sense of theatre and style. But, rest assured, the indication does not sacrifice practicality on the alter of said style. It is eminently legible. The accompanying hour track pairs Arabic numerals for even-numbered hours and blue pearls for odd-values.
Adjacent the crown, a lone hand proclaims the day of the week with lucid efficiency. Once again, retrograde is the order of the day. At the base of the dial, a blue hand points to a date track. Interestingly, this retrograde indication uses Arabic numerals to indicate odd-values and blue pearls to denote even-numbers. It is a small detail, but it provides a delightful variation on the second timezone’s appearance.
A small seconds display is located at 9 o’clock, completing the inventory of functions. Beyond the central dial area is a satin-brushed track marked with blue Roman numerals and framed with a chemin-de-fer.
The retrograde indications are intuitive to read, clearly presented and will no doubt delight onlookers as they advance towards their ultimate destination before reliving the moment again.
The Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Rétrograde is endowed with a sublime case. The bezel is highly polished, whereas the caseband is predominantly satin-brushed. Close inspection of the case reveals that the faceted edges of the satin-brushed lugs are highly polished. Likewise, there are two gleaming bands gracing the caseband. The underside of the lugs, adjacent the caseback, are polished to a brilliant conclusion.
Placing two contrasting finishes in close proximity is costly. It is imperative that each surface treatment is perfectly delineated, free of wayward lines. Fortunately, Maurice Lacroix can call on the expertise of its subsidiary company, Qualoz SA, a case making specialist. Each touchpoint feels refined having been made to the highest order.
Measuring 43mm in diameter, the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Rétrograde is generously proportioned. I suspect the scale of the case can trace its origins back to when Masterpiece models employed a Unitas base. The diameter of the Unitas 6498-1 is 36.6mm, hence many firms, not just Maurice Lacroix, house this movement in cases measuring 42mm or more. This latest model features a Sellita SW 200 automatic movement, measuring just 25.6mm. Maurice Lacroix has added its own in-house module to the Sellita SW 200 base which may explain the need for extra room, alternatively, it may simply be that market research has shown this to be the optimal size for most would-be wearers. Certainly, having worn several Masterpiece models over the years, a 43mm case diameter affords an agreeable fit.
The silver dial option is supplied on a sumptuous blue calf leather strap, tastefully enlivened with pale blue stitching. The brand’s ‘M’ logo is integrated into the strap and rewards inquisitive fingers with cathartic tactility. Maurice Lacroix has chosen to pair the strap with a folding clasp in stainless steel.
The ML291 calibre is visible via an exhibition caseback. As mentioned previously, the watch firm has declared that the movement combines an automatic Sellita SW 200 with the firm’s own in-house module, ‘developed and assembled in Maurice Lacroix’s workshops’. Further investigation reveals that the movement uses the oscillating weight from a Sellita SW 400, a larger movement (31mm). On reflection, it may be for this reason that the case measures 43mm.
By adding the in-house module, the jewel count of the ML291 calibre is much higher. The base has 26 jewels, while the complete ML291 calibre has a total of 47 jewels.
The oscillating weight is partially openworked, features polished angles, Côtes de Genève motif and colimaçon on the rim of the rotor. The automatic device bridge is adorned with a pattern formed of numerous ‘M’ logos. Other surfaces on the rhodium plated movement are embellished with the same type of decoration as well as further expanses of colimaçon.
The ML291 calibre has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz) and, assuming it is fully wound, it will run autonomously for 38 hours.
From experience, when a brand deviates from using conventional co-axial hands on a watch, the display can prove aesthetically more interesting, but intelligibility can sometimes be compromised. Thankfully, no such afflictions blight the performance of the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Rétrograde 43mm. Its display is both attractive and clear to read.
An appealing characteristic of retrograde indications is that information is imparted with the arcing trajectory of a hand. When the hand reaches its ultimate destination, it returns to its point of origin with notable alacrity and begins its journey anew, as if setting aside the past and making a fresh start.
Maurice Lacroix has expended much energy on this model’s habillage (everything except the movement). Each touchpoint elicits a nod of approval. The interplay of polished and satin-brushed surfaces is sublime and worthy of comparison with costlier watches, adding to a ubiquitous sense of quality.
For over 20 years, Maurice Lacroix has offered timepieces endowed with retrograde indications. Over this period, the Maison has become an expert in making this genre of watch. As its name implies, the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Rétrograde 43mm features three different retrograde indications. Occasionally a brand will offer a single retrograde indication, while in some rare instances, a watch will have two retrograde displays, however, I cannot think of any other timepiece with a triumvirate of three retrogrades. The brand from Saignelégier has created an interesting point of differentiation. However, beyond this USP, this model is highly attractive, practical and exhibits an extraordinary quality-price ratio.
- Model: Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Rétrograde 43mm
- Reference: MP6538-SS001-310-1 (anthracite dial) / MP6538-SS001-110-1 (silver dial)
- Case: Grade 5 Titanium; diameter 43 mm; height 14mm; water resistance 5ATM (50m); sapphire crystal to the front and exhibition case back.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; second time zone (retrograde); day indication (retrograde); date indication (retrograde)
- Movement: ML 291 Calibre; self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 VpH (4Hz); 47 jewels; power reserve = 38 hours
- Strap: Colour-coordinated calf leather strap paired with a folding clasp in stainless steel
- Price CHF 5,200 (RRP as at 12.1.2021)