Back in 2020, Maurice Lacroix teamed up with the Geneva-based design house Label Noir to create a limited-edition version of its Aikon integrated bracelet watch. Just like many of Label Noir’s co-branded pieces, the inaugural collaboration model embraced a largely monochromatic color profile of black and gray, and it promptly sold out within minutes of its launch. Now, for one of its latest releases of 2024, Maurice Lacroix has partnered with Label Noir once again to produce a follow-up to the original model, and the limited-edition Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir expands upon the blueprint of the original Masterpiece series to create a dark and monochromatic expression of the Swiss brand’s flagship collection.

From a fundamental design and construction standpoint, the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir (ref. MP7228-DLB04-090-2) is very similar to the brand’s original Masterpiece Skeleton timepiece that first debuted more than a decade ago. With that in mind, despite being based on a familiar blueprint, the Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir doesn’t actually have a standard-production counterpart within Maurice Lacroix’s current catalog. While the Masterpiece collection now contains an assortment of different models, the original Masterpiece Skeleton watches are no longer part of the current lineup. The new limited-edition Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir represents the return of this fan-favorite model and its highly open-worked manufacture movement.

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Crafted from stainless steel, the case of the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir features a fairly traditional round profile. However, rather than having brushed and polished surfaces like the original Masterpiece Skeleton models, the Label Noir limited edition offers an entirely sandblasted finish. It also embraces the Geneva design house’s signature color palette with a dark gunmetal gray DLC coating on its case paired with a black DLC-finished bezel and winding crown. While some of Label Noir’s timepieces such as the Louis Erard x Label Noir Le Régulateur and the BA111OD CHPTR_Δ.5 X Label Noir feature small splashes of bright colors, (both have neon green highlights), the company’s latest collaboration with Maurice Lacroix is almost entirely black and gray. The only contrasting elements here are the metallic components of the movement and the small white accents that appear throughout the watch.

The front side of the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir’s case is fitted with a heavily domed sapphire crystal, while a push/pull-style crown sits at 3 o’clock. A display caseback is attached to the reverse side of the watch with four small screws at the corners to offer an entirely unobstructed view of its open-worked internal movement. In terms of dimensions, the case of the Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir measures 43mm in diameter by 13mm thick (including its domed crystal), with lugs that are set 21mm apart and extend to create an overall lug-to-lug profile of 51mm. Additionally, the total weight of the watch comes in at approximately 84 grams (including its strap), while gaskets between the case components create a fairly standard 50 meters of water resistance to protect against daily contact.

Similar to other skeletonized watches, the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir omits a dial to showcase its open-worked movement. However, rather than having a transparent dial surface or some type of peripheral flange with hour markers and a minute track, the Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir is devoid of any indexes or markings, and its entire display is essentially just a movement fitted with a handset. The time is represented by two centrally-mounted hands that have white luminous inlays, while a small running seconds hand appears at 9 o’clock with an entirely matte black finish that makes it nearly invisible against the black mainplate of the movement. Additionally, while the Super-LumiNova on the hour and minute hands appears a crisp white color in the daylight, it emits a green glow in the dark, and the two centrally-mounted hands are the only luminous elements on the entire watch.

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Given that the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir doesn’t have a dial, the brand’s name and logo are engraved directly onto the mainplate of the movement, while Maurice Lacroix’s secondary signature at 12 o’clock and the Label Noir logo is printed on the underside surface of the crystal. Personally, I feel that the second Maurice Lacroix logo on the crystal is a bit unnecessary, and I would have preferred to see both brands’ signatures on the mainplate with the crystal left completely free of any printing whatsoever. Additionally, without any type of hour markers or minute track, an approximation of the time is all that the Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir provides, and setting the watch can also be slightly tricky since there aren’t any indices to provide a sense of orientation while aligning the hands.

Powering the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir is the brand’s manufacture Caliber ML134 manual-wind movement, which was also used inside the inaugural Masterpiece Skeleton watch when it first debuted over a decade ago. With that in mind, the movement fitted to the new limited-edition Label Noir collaboration piece is finished differently compared to the Cal. ML134 movements fitted to its predecessors. Here, it showcases a black PVD coating across all of its plates and bridges. Although the finishing on the movement isn’t especially elaborate, it is rather aesthetically pleasing, and the black plates and bridges feature brushed surfaces, recessed sandblasted sections, and high-polished edges that add a subtle touch of refinement. Additionally, the entire Cal. ML134 sits on full display, with both sides of the movement visible through the front crystal of the watch and the large sapphire window in its caseback.

Although the Maurice Lacroix Cal. ML134 is classified as one of the brand’s manufacture movements, its performance specs are slightly underwhelming, as it runs at a frequency of 18,000vph (2.5 Hz) with a power reserve of 45 hours. Compared to other contemporary in-house movements, the on-paper specs of the Caliber ML134 almost seem antiquated, and while this is pure speculation on my part, I have a feeling that the gear train of the Cal. ML134 was originally developed for a pocket watch movement. Aside from its large size and manually wound design, the Cal. ML134 doesn’t offer a hacking-seconds mechanism, and even the placement of its seconds hand feels like something you would normally encounter on a pocket watch. Looking at the location of the jewels, you will notice that the fundamental layout of the gear train is similar to movements derived from the ETA 6497, although other components have been rearranged and the bridges have been reworked to create a very different overall appearance.

Attached to the lugs of the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir is a two-piece padded strap, made from black nylon with white contrast stitching running down either side. The strap features integrated quick-release springbars at the lugs, and it tapers from 21mm at the case down to 18mm where it connects to a signed deployant buckle. Additionally, on the 6 o’clock side of the strap is a small rendition of Maurice Lacroix’s logo that has been given a black DLC finish to match the rest of the watch. While the strap itself is somewhat stiff right out of the box, it quickly conforms to the curvature of the wrist to create a cuff-like structure that I personally found to be surprisingly comfortable. Additionally, the butterfly-style deployant clasp is crafted from stainless steel, and while the internal sections are polished and adorned by perlage, the outer section receives a dark gunmetal gray DLC coating with an engraving of Maurice Lacroix’s name and logo.

Blacked-out watches and skeletonized watches can both be hit or miss for my personal preferences, although I find the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir to be an incredibly enjoyable timepiece, and its dark and technical appearance resembles something that you might find on Batman’s nightstand. However, the Caliber ML134 is a movement that exists solely for the sake of skeletonization. The fact that Maurice Lacroix has decided to expose its internal components is simply because the brand wanted to make a timepiece with a mechanically-focused aesthetic, rather than because it wanted to showcase some advanced technology or elaborate finishing. While I typically want skeletonized watches to offer something truly special in the movement or finishing department, the dark monochromatic colorway allows me to more easily appreciate the Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir as a design object, without constantly wishing that its open-worked construction revealed haute horology details.

Many of Label Noir’s collaborations are created as small-batch limited editions, and the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir continues this trend, with production capped at 288 examples. With an official retail price of $7,950 USD, the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir (ref. MP7228-DLB04-090-2) is quite a bit more expensive than the brand’s various models with third-party calibers. However, the Masterpiece collection itself is categorically more expensive than nearly all of Maurice Lacroix’s other watches, simply because the Masterpiece models have manufacture movements. At this price point, numerous high-end timepieces will also be within budget, and it’s undeniable that many will offer superior performance specifications. However, when it comes to skeletonized watches, you can also spend significantly more and not receive something nearly as compelling from a design perspective, and I ultimately find the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir to be an immense amount of fun to have on the wrist. For more information on the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Skeleton Label Noir, please visit the brand’s website

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