March 11, 2014
by Ariel Adams
Zurich-based watch maker Maurice de Mauriac has just released the new L1 watch designed by the acclaimed (and award-winning) Swiss industrial designer Fabian Schwaerzler. The result is an attractively modern Bauhaus style watch that combines Swiss style with Germanic functionalism – which makes sense given that Zurich is in the German-speaking part of the country.
In the future we will investigate what the relationship between Maurice de Mauriac and Fabian Schwaerzler is all about and how they hooked up. Oftentimes, big-name designers end up working with larger brands on special series timepieces with their unique aesthetic stamp. In this situation, Schwaerzler decided to work with a boutique brand, probably because it was a project of passion allowing the two an opportunity to focus on the product versus marketing and less fulfilling commercial matters (well, to artists that is).
The L1 watch takes a familiar Maurice de Mauriac style case sized at 39mm wide in steel, and adds a domed AR coated sapphire crystal and a simple brushed finishing. The presentation is attractive, but demurely utilitarian and timeless. The real magic is in the dial, which is an attractively functional design I think all watch lovers can appreciate.
Schwaerzler is the type of designer who likes to focus on minimalism. This style of design is about removing rather than adding. The idea is to deconstruct something of use to its core elements, and then slowly add elements in a refined manner to emphasize a few basic values versus including a lot of decorative or functional elements. Schwaerzler explains how he always wanted to design a watch because he found the task a unique challenge. With the design of the L1, he discovered not only the complexity of marrying form and function, but identifying some of the more minor elements that make for a “good” watch design.
The dial is very much in the vein of the classic Omega Speedmaster– an enduring success because of how well it combines simplicity with functionality. The black dial is contrasted with white numerals and hands– each relatively thin but highly viewable. A ring of minute markers has slightly longer batons at each five minute marker, and distinct hour markers are also added below for added utility. The hour markers are also not uniform with longer (but proportionally thinner) markers at each quarter.
My favorite element is the minimalist text. The labeling and logo exists, but in a thin, small manner that I think is very clever and helps keep the dial balanced and branded. The hands and hour markers are applied with blue-colored SuperLumiNova luminant. One of the most important elements of the dial design is that while it is certainly part of the larger class of Bauhaus faces, there is a distinctive quality that prevents it from being too easily confused with other similar designs.
Inside the Maurice de Mauriac L1 watch is a Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movement. Maurice de Mauriac uses a decorated version that is visible through a sapphire crystal caseback window. Maurice de Mauriac also includes three straps with each L1 watch. This is good news since Maurice de Mauriac is known for their excellent choice of straps in regard to quality and matching them with a case. Included are a black, brown, and natural umber (lighter brown) leather straps. Price is a bit on the ambitious side at 2,300 Swiss Francs and these L1 timepieces should be available now. Really nice to see successful design collaborations such as this. mauricedemauriac.ch