Last November, Maurice Lacroix made its re-emergence in the Philippine market with their new partner, Watchworks, a Philippine-based company with vast experience in the distribution and servicing of many prestigious Swiss watch brands. Indeed, Maurice Lacroix is now one of those brands, and heading their expansion is Managing Director for South East Asia, Stéphane Waser, who took the time to convey the brand’s desire to bring Swiss watchmaking into the world at a rather wide range of value-oriented points and attitudes.
“The Philippines is a huge country with a population of around 113 million people,” said Stéphane. “For some time, we have been eager to bring our collection of urban-themed watches and sell them within this dynamic, fast-growing nation. With Watchworks we now have a local partner with the expertise to make this a reality. It has a strong track record of delivering high standards of professionalism and impressive standards of customer care within this important market. Now, the citizens of the Philippines are able to experience first-hand a taste of the Swiss Jura and its legendary watchmaking expertise.”
Best of all, Maurice Lacroix is customer-centric. “We listen to the customer,” continued Stéphane. “We listen to customer feedback. We are not producing watches for the museum. We are producing watches for you, for everyone. We want to see the smile on the face of the customer when he is wearing the watch.”
To be fair, Maurice Lacroix the watchmaker is fairly young, just under 50 years young to be exact. But that hasn’t stopped the watchmaker from being a leading force in the Swiss watch industry. Based in Saignelégier, Switzerland, Maurice Lacroix has won more than fifteen industry awards and has demonstrated an innovative, avant-garde spirit over the years. Indeed, the watchmaker has a long history of producing sophisticated yet affordable watches just like the AIKON, which the watchmaker released in 2016, and which is a reinterpretation of the iconic Maurice Lacroix Calypso from the 1990s.
Designed specifically for a generation of Millennials who are connected, cosmopolitan and talented, the AIKON collection is produced alongside the Maison’s high-end Masterpiece collection, a range of timepieces often equipped with a Manufacture movement. Indeed, modern and daring, all while exuding the avant-garde style of the 1970s, the AIKON collection has never been shy about its ambitions of becoming (dare we say) an industry ICON, which is probably why the new Maurice Lacroix AIKON Master Grand Date Black makes such a grand statement.
Released in 2021, this year’s “Black” version once again takes all the mechanical virtuosity of the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece collection and reinterprets it in the AIKON’s unique urban design language. The watchmaker, however, has taken that language to the extreme resulting in an AIKON Master Grand Date dressed in severe black and white tones. This means the original flagship model’s bright stainless steel case and blue dial have been replaced by something dark, brooding and downright predatory, a 180° change in aesthetic, in fact.
Just like the original model, however, the new AIKON Master Grand Date Black is once again presented in a generously proportioned 45mm stainless steel case, albeit this time swathed in polished black DLC. It features the AIKON collection’s signature design with a rounded angular shape, integrated lugs, as well as the same bezel with six “claws” along its perimeter that can be found across the series giving it a distinct overall appearance.
And just like the original model, this year’s stealth black model once again presents its information unlike anything else within in the AIKON line up, and is more in-line with brand’s Masterpiece series, despite all the aesthetic cues of the AIKON collection that surrounds it. This means the small offset dial in the upper right-hand corner decorated with a Clous de Paris pattern to display the hours and minutes is back. As is the smaller subdial dedicated to the running seconds that overlaps with its bottom edge.
The large double-digit date display at 10 o’clock makes an appearance, as well, as does the asymmetric aperture that reveals the sizable balance wheel and the skeletonized bridge directly below it. Differentiating this model, however, is the generous use of white luminous material on the pointed baton-shaped hands and hour markers that sharply contrasts with the all-black monochromatic display, and which has the added benefit of increased visibility during low-light conditions.
Being called back for power duties is once again the Maison’s in-house Calibre ML331 self-winding movement, although this year re-dressed to match the AIKON Master Grand Date Black’s stealthy profile. This means both versions of the movement feature bridges with sandblasted surfaces, but while they were left in the natural color on the previous version, they are now finished in black DLC. Having said that, Calibre ML331 still beats at a very traditional 18,000vph (2.5Hz), and boasts a 50-hour power reserve.
Unlike the original model, however, the AIKON Master Grand Date Black isn’t available with a matching metal bracelet. Instead, the new watch is exclusively matched with a specially designed rubber strap that features the Maurice Lacroix name in relief, as well as a second strap made from synthetic leather with a textile effect, and that incorporates the brand’s now-legendary ‘M’ logo. Both are completed by black PVD-finished deployant clasps, and both can be easily swapped courtesy of the Maison’s Easy Strap Exchange system, which allows for the easy switch from one strap to another without the need for tools.
“We have witnessed an increasing number of our clientele falling for the charms of Swiss watchmaking,” says Louis Ong, CFO of Watchworks. “Indeed, it is fair to say there has been a notable surge in interest as consumers discover contemporary watches online. With the arrival of Maurice Lacroix and its various collections such as the AIKON, MASTERPIECE and PONTOS, we are now in a position to satisfy local demand for the brand’s watches. The designs of the models, the impressive Swiss craftsmanship and the company’s reputation for delivering high perceived value, ensure we deliver a winning package, providing a strong foundation for an enduring relationship between our two companies.”
Maurice Lacroix, your time is now.