April 4, 2011
by Ariel Adams
Get ready for something cool. There are two watches in this article. For the most part they are the same. A pair of Maurice de Mauriac Chronograph Modern watches in 45mm wide steel cases. One is in a DLC black case with a carbon fiber dial, and the other is in a PVD black case with a black dial with white text. Doesn’t look like a white on black dial? That is because of its special crystal.
The piece with the blue tinted dial is a prototype – but more will come. It represents a hold of watches with colored sapphire crystals that Maurice de Mauriac will make available. These crystals apparently weren’t easy to find. Rolex offered green tinted crystals on some Milgauss models. Then Hublot offered a neat looking red sapphire crystal on their King Power F1 Monza watch – and after that I wanted to see more colored sapphire crystals. The possibilities are really endless.
If you recall, Maurice de Mauriac watches have a special bezel and crystal system that allows you to unscrew the bezel along with the crystal to easily swap them out. This theoretically offers you the ability to have one watch, with a bunch of looks. You might not be advised to willy-nilly change out the crystals yourself (due to water resistance and dust issues), but it could be very easily done by someone who knows what they are doing.
Maurice de Mauriac eventually found a supplier (or a few) where they could get colored sapphire crystals. This prototype model dispenses with offering just a basic color, but a more interesting specialized red. Yup, while this crystal doesn’t often look red, I am told that it is a special type of red. Images of it really don’t do it justice, and the whole point of it is to dance with the light as it seems to change when held at different angles.
Most of the time the crystal will leave the background black, while making the white text look electric blue. Against the all back watch, the effect is extremely cool. Other times the crystal appears more red, with lighter colored markers, and something even a bit yellow. By watching the video you can experience this a bit better – but nothing comes close to seeing it in person.
What “Tactical Vision?” Well it is a name that Maurice de Mauriac and I came up with together. Before that it was unnamed. There are a host of special optical equipment that attempts to make good use of the light via special colors and lens treatments. The function of these optics is to offer as legible a view as possible in low light situations without the need for an energy powered light amplification system, etc… As such, because the watch crystal mimics this, a fitting name was to refer to it as the Tactical Vision crystal, on top of the Chronograph Modern watch.
For comparison purposes I put the watch next to a sibling, that has a carbon fiber dial, white indicators, and a spalsh of red. A really pretty pieces in its own right, and you can see how much difference some color can make to a basic design. Of course, both watches have Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movements in them. I reviewed another Chronograph Modern here (in its 42mm size).
So what now? Watches like this should be available from Maurice de Mauriac soon – with a lot of variety in the crystal department. I am told that in addition to all the available colors, you can opt for flat or domed crystals. Do far I have seen Maurice de Mauriac watches with this special Tactical Vision crystal, and with red and blue crystals. These really help transform a watch. With the Chronograph Modern as a base, you can really have a functional, military-esque time with a fashionable element on top of it (literally).
Showing off the Chronograph Modern with the Tactical Vision crystal is a joy. People don’t know what to make of it, and always smile. Plus, people seeing the watch are often transfixed, as the crystal colors keep moving and changing. It is really a cool thing, and a fun want to wear a decent watch that has a little something extra built into it. My money on the next big thing for watch customization as well as mixing up the norm is with colored and styled sapphire crystals. Price? Not totally sure right now. Expect a bit of a premium over standard crystals, but nothing terribly more. Don’t let anyone convince you that color sapphires should go for large premiums. Questions still exist though. There are differences in how these are made, and issues on whether the crystals are standard synthetic sapphire with treatments, or if the crystals themselves are colored throughout. I know that you’ll find different types. The best are going to be ones where the sapphire crystal itself is colored. I believe this one is like that with some special coating as well.