Hands-On With The Maurice Lacroix AIKON Automatic Skeleton
Maurice Lacroix is renowned for the affordability of its timekeepers, whether quartz or mechanical Masterpiece. In 2016, the brand from Saignelégier in the Swiss Jura, introduced the new AIKON collection. A very contemporary quartz model. The Automatic was introduced in 2018 and the family expanded with an automatic mechanical skeletonized watch.
Maurice Lacroix had already made an impression with innovations and complications such as – retrograde calendars, mysterious seconds, square wheels – and unique skeletonization on its Masterpiece collection (see Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece). Now the AIKON collection benefits from this horological treatment.
Strong and elegant design
The modern design of the AIKON, architectural and strong, proudly asserts itself here. We are in the sports watch universe. Masculine and imposing. The case has grown from 42 to 45mm for the automatic 3 hands version, and the thickness is 13mm. The timekeeper does not go unnoticed. The round bezel sets itself on a round case in a very subtle architectural balance. It could have been on the heavy side, and it is not! The alternating brushed finishing of the case with its mirror polished angles and of the matte bezel whose flank and double indexes placed every two hours are also polished.
These elements convey a very elegant and qualitative touch to this Aikon Automatic Skeleton. Its sporty, robust and masculine character is asserted, yet softened by these refined and discreet notes. The integrated lugs, shorts and plunging, optimize the comfort of the wearer and bring lightness – all proportions kept – to the whole.
A new automatic skeletonized caliber
Maurice Lacroix is no stranger to open-worked watchmaking. This horological craftsmanship has already been introduced on their iconic Calypso collection as early as 1993. It also adorns numerous models of the Masterpiece collection. The brand from the Swiss Jura knows how to master it and to add its distinctive touch. Hence this new caliber, specially created internally for the occasion, the ML234, is based on the ML134 that is found in the Masterpiece family.
The balance wheel bridge, the barrel, and the oscillating mass are all masterfully open-worked and clearly visible through the sapphire case back. Likewise, the hours and minutes setting wheels, as well as the winding wheels, are skeletonized and animate respectively the front and the back of the timekeeper. Moreover, the caliber, which beats at the very horological frequency of 18’000 vibrations per hour, offers an optimized power reserve of 52 hours.
The open-work intelligently highlights brushed bridges with a DLC black treatment who convey a real movement to the dial. They form a ripple emanating from the barrel bridge at one o’clock which moves in five concentric circles all the way to seven o’clock. The black DLC treatment provides a welcome legibility to the timekeeper: a recurrent issue with skeletonized watches that Maurice Lacroix eludes masterfully.
The applied hours indexes are rhodium plated, as are the hours and minutes hands. It reinforces the contrast… and adds further readability. It works very well. The small seconds counter is discreet and elegant with its small hand rhodium plated which seems to float at 6 o'clock. The brand demonstrates once more its ability to offer beautiful mechanical watchmaking with a characteristic style without reaching unaffordable costs. The triple deploying buckle adorned with beautiful circular graining of this steel model is yet another example of this feat.
Pricing and summary
Introduced at Baselworld this year, it is no surprise that this AIKON Automatic Skeleton has met a great success. The timekeeper offers a perceived value far superior to its competitive price tag. Indeed, at CHF 5600.00, Maurice Lacroix delivers an automatic mechanical piece of great quality with a strong character, technical innovation, elegant and distinctive finishings, at an affordable price. The Saignelégier brand continues to impress on this market segment which appeals significantly to younger generations, as well as to older ones looking for sound mechanical watches without breaking the bank.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)