Modern minimalist diver is not a term you hear very often in the watch industry. Despite the growing popularity of minimalist-style watches, most of them are manifested in watches that are cheaper to produce, such as casual dress-style models. Minimalist sport watches are a niche, but an interesting one. I happen to like them a lot—at their core, they’re durable sport watches, but their exterior attempts to boil down a traditional diver aesthetic to its essential parts. Fun. This watch is the Maurice de Mauriac L2, a diver that follows the previously reviewed Maurice de Mauriac L1.
Zurich-based architect and designer Fabian Schwaerzler designed both of these watches, and the L2 is the sportier of the two. It’s water-resistant to 300m and has an automatic helium release valve. 42mm wide, the L2 is offered in steel (natural or DLC-coated dark gray) or in bronze. Furthermore, Maurice de Mauriac provides a series of attractive dial colors with matching aluminum bezel inserts. Under review is the dark blue dial and bezel, and the L2 is also available (at the time of writing) in black or khaki green. Finding the right case, dial, and strap combination is part of the fun when picking a Maurice de Mauriac watch. The L2, no matter how minimalist it may seem, is no exception.
The bronze version of the L2 might be better suited for those who are more adventurous or unpredictable. The natural or DLC-coated stainless steel versions of the L2 are going to be the standard option for most people and will deliver a very predictable aging process (albeit more durable with the DLC coating). The aging of bronze, however, is highly affected by your lifestyle, where you live, and what you do with the watch. Maurice de Mauriac also doesn’t play around with bronze, offering a totally bronze case, including the caseback.
One interesting thing to note is that even for bronze watches, many watch companies don’t make the caseback bronze. When bronze oxidizes, it turns green, so it can turn the skin green as well. This doesn’t really hurt your skin (unless you have allergies) and can be washed off, but most brands tend to stay away from that risk. I rather admire the desire to simply go all-bronze for the case middle, back, bezel, and crown. I’m not entirely sure how that will work out for all wearers, but it hasn’t been an issue for me.
The “patina” that bronze watch cases get is one of the reasons why collectors enjoy them. The oxidation can be cleaned off using various mild solutions, but owners of bronze watches often eagerly await the cases to age and discolor. You can’t really mimic the look of natural case aging and discoloration through artificial means, so bronze is one of those rare materials strong enough to make a watch case out of, but it will also become “vintage looking” rather quickly.
Maurice de Mauriac offers the black, green, and blue dial with a matching bezel with all three of the case options. There is a steel metal bracelet option, but currently no bronze bracelet option, which I’ve wanted to see in a watch for years now (though making a bronze bracelet comes with its own set of issues).
As a Zurich-based watchmaker, Maurice de Mauriac was able to use a particular bronze alloy sourced in Zurich. Like steel, not all bronze is created equally, so your experience from one bronze watch to another will vary. As a metal, bronze has a very warm look, mostly thanks to the copper inside. Bronze isn’t quite as strong as steel, but it’s a bit heavier. Compared to many other metals, bronze handles sea water well, which is why it is particularly suited as material for a diving watch. In the last year or so, we’ve also written about bronze dive watches from Tudor, IWC, Eterna, Oris, and Zodiac. I don’t think bronze watches will ever become mega popular given their niche nature, but there will always be a place for them in the world of personality-rich divers.