August 23, 2010
by Ariel Adams
There are different ways to buy a watch. You can order one online, or visit a store in town to get one. You can travel to a far off city to visit a rare brand boutique to see their luxury goods. Sometimes people work with other watch collectors to buy and sell coveted items to mix up their collection. Though one of the most celebrated experiences in the luxury watch tradition is what I call the client conference. A meeting between the watch maker and the customer to discuss the details of a new watch. Should it be a standard model. Perhaps with an engraving? A totally new variation on a classic look? Or perhaps the customer wants something totally unique. The rarest and most collectible watches exist people they were specially made – often at the bequest of a special client. The client conference is a meeting to discuss the production of something. Even if the choice isn’t at all bespoke, the interaction between the producer and the customer creates a personal relationship between the buyer and the brand. This makes people customers for life, and enjoy a truer connection to what they are wearing.
Experiences like this are rare, but not necessarily uncommon in the luxury watch. One brand that offers such an experience (even if it is via e-mail or the phone) is Maurice de Mauriac. Visit their website and you’ll find a number of options for each of their collection. Perhaps too many options. The ideas is to show you that the watch you might get has a number of options – cosmetic and otherwise. Though if you want, you can still get one of their watches the “simplified way.”
For me, the ideal way of getting a Maurice de Mauriac was isn’t by sitting in an office or shop, but rather in a place like an outdoor cafe in Zurich – where the brand and its principle, Daniel Dreifuss, are based. I imagine sitting over coffee while Mr. Dreifuss takes watches out of a case alongside papers with colors and dials and all sorts of options. It isn’t about buying what he had to offer, but about him making what I want to see. Sitting in the Swiss metropolis, you get a good idea of what you want your watch to look like in practice, as opposed to in a white store setting. No doubt this is how many of Maurice de Mauriac’s customers choose the look of their next watch.
The timepiece of the minute is the Maurice de Mauriac Chronograph Modern. It comes in all sorts of styles, but the basic look and case is going to remain the same (unless you really want to go wild). While the piece I have is an excellent combo of parts, I encourage you to visit Maurice de Mauriac’s website to see more of the Chronograph Modern possibilities. The watch is available in three case sizes, 39mm, 42mm, and 45mm, with several dials, case finishes, bezels, straps… you get the idea.
This is a 42mm wide sized DLC black over titanium case, with a solid 18k rose gold bezel model. You can have it in steel as well if you like. The Chronograph Modern is an aviator watch at heart – with close visual ties to the best from IWC. DLC offers wonderful durability, and the gold offers luxury. Image what the watch would look like in an all black case, one in brushed steel, or even in solid gold… as these options are all available.
42mm wide looks good on my wrist, but I wouldn’t mind 45mm either. The black case has a technical looking shape to it, and I like the use of screw down pushers for the chronograph. You can get the watch without screw down pushers if you like. The aviator style dial is easy to read and feature a “minute focus.” That means you have the minutes large on the dial, that serve as the hour indicators. Look closely at the dial options as there are a few that look similar. This one is in black with a textured middle, slightly recessed subdials, no individual minute indicators, and a tachymetre scale on the flange ring. The numerals have a thick layer of SuperLumiNova – as do the hands. The lume shot indicates the even application of the lume, and all the areas that are coated. The two-tone dial is nicely complimented by the rose gold bezel. I like the Breguet XX style “fat” subdial hands. You can choose a domed or flat sapphire crystal over the dial – both with AR coating. I opted for flat as I dislike distortion and light reflection that occurs on many domed dials – though that isn’t always the case.
It is no surprise that the movement is a Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 chronograph automatic. The movement is nicely decorated with a few polishes such as perlage on the plate and concentric circular stripes on the signed rotor. Maurice de Mauriac also uses blue steel screws, and I think you can also order titanium screws. If you want, they will also use a solid gold rotor for extra money.
My favorite movement option – that my watch comes equipped with – are ceramic ball bearing for the rotor. An extra 150 Swiss Francs gives you seven oil-free ceramic balls that whisk the rotor around very smoothly. In fact, a rotor with the ceramic ball bearings get about 30% greater winding efficiency – without the need for lubricant. Very high tech. Not everyone will want the ceramic bearings though as it makes the rotor move much faster which can be heard sometimes. I don’t mind it, but you should be mindful of that fact. Of course, Chronometer regulation is also an option for your 7750 in an Maurice de Mauriac Modern Chronograph watch. Overall, I love knowing that the brand offers all these options when it comes to tweaking and enhancing the movement.
This Chronograph Modern comes with an interesting strap which is black canvas-like fabric with a leather lining. It has a fold over deployment clasp. For smaller wrists like mine the placement of the deployment make it jab into your wrist a bit when worn tightly. The design of it makes it seem as though this isn’t an issue for larger wrists. Plus, changing the deployment or going with another one isn’t a problem. Maurice de Mauriac also offers other straps options, as well as a metal bracelet. The watch looks cool on a NATO strap as well in my opinion.
People tend to be very impressed with the Modern Chronograph, and I think Maurice de Mauriac is going to have a hard time keeping their boutique feel as their popularity grows. That is a challenge for them, but their watches are very impressive, especially for the price. Value conscious fans of Swiss watches will appreciate that the Modern Chronograph, as configured here goes for about $5,600 – even with the rose gold bezel. The collection starts at under $3,000, and gets up to about $13,500 in all gold. Oh, and for those who enjoy the look, you can get a Modern Chronograph with a white or black diamond studded bezel.
With a rich wearing experience that includes quality and good looks, Maurice de Mauriac offers a pleasant buying experience as well as the ability to really get the type of watch you like. But beware that you’ll have lots of options to choose from when selecting a watch. For a unique experience, but pleasantly mainstream feeling look, it makes a lot of sense to give the brand a close look.