Daniel Dreifuss, who owns Zurich-based watchmaker Maurice de Mauriac, is as manic as he is passionate about timepieces and design. Daniel is a self-proclaimed strap fetishist (which I will second as probably being true), and voraciously continues to add options to what are essentially made-for-you timepieces put together quasi-Lego style in his shop. At some point, Maurice de Mauriac watches will come in series, with proper names and families. Until then, it is a brand for the somewhat advanced watch lover who is keen on trusting their instincts, probably travelling to Zurich, and working with this special man to make something unique for you.
What you see here is a version of the Maurice de Mauriac Chronograph Modern that I call the Travel Timer. It is a sweetly sexy military-style watch with a red-tinted sapphire crystal and green khaki canvas strap. In all honesty, it is as quirky as it is cool, and is something that could only have come out of the industry of boutique Swiss watchmakers. Items like this mix the care of a watch maker employed to put these watches together, with a haphazard philosophy towards design that allows for some truly interesting luxury timepieces to be produced minus design committee meetings and an analysis of consumer demand. Daniel runs your local neighborhood watchmaker – and there are scant few of him left in the world.
“Chronograph Modern” is direct translation to English of “modern chronograph” in probably German – Deifuss’ mother tongue. He isn’t actually a man of many words, but more of images, colors, and gesticulations. Watches in their own right are an extension of kinesthetic communication. And of course a major form of fashion communication. Your watch not only says a lot about you, but allows you to say a lot. Some people wear their timepiece loose like a bracelet dangling as they move around. Others strap their watches tight to their wrist with a purpose. Dreifuss prefers the latter. He uses his hands a lot and anything but a snug watch will not do. Perhaps that is why he loves NATO-style straps so much.
The red colored crystal adds a certain “wow factor” to the watch. It hampers legibility just a little bit because it actually prevents some light from entering the dial to charge the lume. It is a small price to pay for the aesthetic in my opinion. If you don’t want the red crystal, it certainly isn’t required. A stickler for details, Dreifuss once illustrated to me how the difference between a domed versus flat crystal made a watch look. I was stunned at the difference. Our first look at a Maurice de Mauriac watch with a colored crystal was with the Chronograph Modern Tactical Vision with its rather impressive coloration.
The Chronograph Modern comes in a few case sizes that Maurice de Mauriac has available. Those include 39mm, 42mm, and 45mm in width. This watch represents the latter size of 45mm wide and it wears boldly on the wrist. Back in 2010 we reviewed another Chronograph Modern with a 42mm wide case and 18k rose gold bezel. 42mm is a great size overall, but I think I will stick to the larger 45mm size case thank you very much. In this case, the watch is titanium and PVD black in color while it has screw-down pushers (and a crown) for water resistance. Water resistance by the way is 300 meters.
The typical rotating diver’s style bezel has been replaced with something else on this piece – hence the title of “Travel Timer” that I assigned to it. Somewhat oxymoronically, this watch has a world-timer bezel. No, it doesn’t have a GMT hand or other world time feature. Why is it here? Good question. Allow me to first interject that you can of course order a piece like this without the Travel Timer bezel and opt for something more traditional – but will you? Technically speaking I think there is a use for the bezel. By aligning it to your current time you can read the time in another time zone. But to do so you need to adjust the bezel each time you want to read it. So at least it isn’t totally there for no reason. In most watches, you will find that a justification exists for pretty much everything.
I have to admit that the world timer bezel does have a certain understated pizazz to it. Why? I can’t quite state it. But Maurice de Mauriac is clever in their design to the extent that while their watches look very standard at a glance, a fair amount of small details give them a refined, classy look that you don’t find elsewhere. To me, they have soul where others simply have “history.” This is the type of watch a guy in an urban cafe who comfortably left the house without tying the laces on his military boots can wear – but also something for the tool watch guy who wants something a bit more boutiquey and different.
Brands like IWC and Bell & Ross won’t customize watches for you, but Maurice de Mauriac will. You can try to order online if they’ll hear you out, but better yet, stroll into their shop in Zurich and find Daniel there (hopefully not busy). I swear that you’ll have no trouble spending at least an hour or two looking through straps. Inside Chronograph Modern watches are decorated Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic movements (visible through a sapphire crystal case back window), and I suggest you go for a colored crystal if you want something really interesting. Price is 4,500 Swiss Francs. mauricdemauriac.ch
>Brand: Maurice de Mauriac
>Model: Chronograph Modern Travel Timer
>Price: 4,500 Swiss Francs
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: A boutique brand lover who enjoys arranging their own designs.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Odd use of bezel design and crystal hampers lume.
>Best characteristic of watch: Satisfying fashionable design that looks unique yet still military-themed.