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Hands-On: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton Watch

Hands-On: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton Watch Hands-On

Since its debut in 2016, Maurice Lacroix’s Aikon line has swiftly grown to become one of the most attractive affordable options in the white-hot integrated bracelet sports watch category. As the line has evolved, the brand has spent a significant effort in differentiating the basic design into something with its own unique personality to stand out in a sea of similar concepts. Its latest attempt in this direction is one of the most striking: the Aikon Chronograph Skeleton. Beyond simply adding a skeletonized dial to an existing model, Maurice Lacroix has altered the overall proportions of the Aikon to create something with its own distinctive and striking personality.

Hands-On: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton Watch Hands-On

This new personality begins with the 44mm stainless steel case of the Aikon Chronograph Skeleton. Much of the basic architecture, including the sharp, angular main case body with its prominent chamfer, is carried over from previous Aikon models, but the bezel has been restyled to give it some welcome new proportions. In order to give the widest possible view of the new skeleton dial, the bezel is narrower, while the Aikon’s six signature claw-like arms now partially hang over the crystal. On paper, the adjustment is slight, but this change noticeably affects the visual profile of the watch, making the whole package feel yet more modern and aggressive. Impressively for a watch with this much sapphire crystal on display, Maurice Lacroix has managed to maintain a 200-meter water resistance for this case.

Hands-On: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton Watch Hands-On

Hands-On: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton Watch Hands-On

As a skeleton design, it’s more or less expected that the dial of the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton plays with visual depth in some way. What’s not expected, however, is how well these layers of depth flow together. Skeleton dials can often be technically impressive but visually chaotic, with little semblance of order or legibility remaining from the base model. The Aikon Chronograph Skeleton sidesteps this problem courtesy of its two topmost layers — an applied chapter ring in bead-blasted steel that connects to chronograph subdial rings at 3 and 9 o’clock, and a trick sapphire main dial with printed seconds indices and an applied logo at 12 o’clock. This allows the indices and subdials to visually float above the skeletonized movement itself while creating a subtle visual barrier, orienting the components for easier reading on the fly. This sapphire dial is, at times, completely invisible, while at other times it reflects light back at the wearer — both are captured on our live images of this piece from the Inhorgenta Fair in Munich.

Hands-On: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton Watch Hands-On

Below that sapphire layer, the skeletonized latticework of the movement receives a PVD treatment, which further aids legibility through contrast. Furthermore, making this framework dark emphasizes the depth in the design, while also allowing the visual highlights of the movement like the balance wheel and mainspring to stand out sharply. With so much else going on, Maurice Lacroix wisely opts to keep the handset simple and pared back to avoid clutter. However, the blued chronograph seconds hand adds a punch of color to an otherwise monochrome look while making reading the chronograph much simpler at a glance.

Hands-On: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton Watch Hands-On

The movement powering the Aikon Chronograph Skeleton is Maurice Lacroix’s exclusive ML206 automatic chronograph powerplant. Designed in conjunction with Concepto and first appearing in the Masterpiece Chronograph Skeleton in 2016, the ML206 has its basic architecture show resemblance with the highly popular 7750, but one need not look twice to see just how far the ML206 is from your standard 7750.

Hands-On: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton Watch Hands-On

Hands-On: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton Watch Hands-On

Maurice Lacroix mounts the Aikon Chronograph Skeleton on a calfskin-lined black fabric strap with white contrast stitching, along with the brand’s signature applied emblem. It’s a suitably sporty and modernist companion for the watch, and while it is uniquely shaped to conform to the Aikon’s integrated lug design, the strap also includes a quick-release feature for easy swapping. The quick release is a great concept in theory, but the fact that the Aikon line is an integrated design means that while changing straps might be easy, finding another strap or bracelet to fit is nigh on impossible.

Hands-On: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton Watch Hands-On

Hands-On: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton Watch Hands-On

Taken as a whole, the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Chronograph Skeleton advances what’s great about the Aikon line (sharp and intricate finishing, luxe design, and quality that punches well above its price point) and amplifies it, all while creating a new and visually distinct identity for the line that diversifies it away from some of the heavy hitters it’s been often accused of aping. Like the rest of the Aikon line, there’s solid value for money here as well, at an MSRP of $7,028 for an integrated bracelet, skeletonized sports chronograph with an in-house movement. For more information, please visit Maurice Lacroix’s website.

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  • Independent_George

    This is a very good watch. I like the thinner bezel because the stock Aikon chrono bezel, wide and flat on a very tall case, is a scratch and ding magnet. There is a bit more elegance and refinement to this watch, and prominent dings and scruffs aren’t going to give this watch “character”. I would have liked less prominent claws, but the minutes on the claws work. The handset is more robust, which aids in legibility. Plus it’s more or less a true skeleton and not simply a stock Aikon with a open-worked dial.

    If MLX were a different kind of brand, the small design tweaks made for this watch would trickle down to the stock Aikon line-up. A thinner bezel and less prominent claws would add more refinement. I am not that fond of the stock Aikon handset, which, to me in the flesh, is too slight and feline for what it essentially a robust sports watch. I would like to see this handset on the stock Aikons.

    While a very nice watch, I am not sure how it fits within the Aikon line-up. Aikons are an amazing value in the integrated steel sports segment with the street price for the three-handers well under $2K. But this watch is more than twice the price of the stock Aikon chrono. I am a big fan of the Aikon line-up because of the quality and value offered, and while I like this watch, I don’t think I’d shell out this kind of money for one.

  • Independent_George

    Agreed, but Aikons are about 50% of sales (read on Monochrome) and it allows MLX to be watchmakers. No one has really asked for the Masterpiece line either.

    • SuperStrapper

      No argument. I do think the aikon is likely the best platform they have right now and I think designs like this make it less approachable.

  • Justin_Khase

    Looks like a mechanical symphony for ones’ wrist like those tourbillion watches.

  • Ahmad Buhamad

    I’m a big fan of ML, the Aikon and Masterpiece lines are superb in term of finish and Innovation, untill you stumble upon their recent chrono skeleton price which they continue to fail to attract fans into shelling out more than $7K for a 7750 base ETA Valjoux movement with undecorated case back like the recent Masterpiece Les Chronograph, you could get a Zenith chrono watch with its legendery El Primero proper in-house movement with that price.

  • Craig A Clark

    I’d totally have one these if I had the cash, there’s nothing about it I don’t like

  • WINKS

    Mall watch looks.

  • Jon Heinz

    One of the few watches with a non-conventional lug that I would consider, and that’s up there with Hublot and AP. I can much better afford this one though.

  • cluedog12

    The Masterpiece Skeleton Chronograph had this same movement, but this watch is better in a few ways: more distinct with the bezel, more legible and possibly improved water resistance. Could it be even better? Yes, with improved colour schemes to improve legibility further. Ditch the screw down pushers too.

    I really like it, especially at this price. Now mind you, I have no watch budget nowadays, so frankly my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. What matters is whether randoms walking into the authorized dealer are going to give Maurice Lacroix a chance or whether the line of less expensive pieces will hinder the brand’s continued attempts to sell more expensive watches.

    In a utopia, we’d all have just enough money to buy the watches we want, but not so much money as to lose sight of their worth. And we’d have the compassion to reward cool products and we’d help build up Maurice Lacroix’s brand equity.

    Of course the crazy amongst us will remember the first edition of the Masterpiece Skeleton Chronograph actually had a manual wind column wheel movement, a movement designed by the esteemed independent, Andreas Strehler. Those were really cool watches, priced too high for the brand to sell to the mainstream and way too large in size to sell to a niche enthusiast who would consider the watch first and the brand second.

    I wish we’d see those manual wind skeleton chrono movements repurposed instead of languishing in the grey market as a great idea with no audience. That movement in a titanium Aikon case, with a titanium integrated bracelet or synthetic strap would make a good gift to the brand’s investors who have kept faith in the brand and management. And an awesome collectable for me to hunt down in the future, should I find my watch budget restored. 🙂

  • Esteban

    Never liked the “overlook” indices, looks like an inexpensive 90s titanium generic Citizen.

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