October 26, 2022
by Ariel Adams
I’ve had the fortune of reviewing many generations of Maurice Lacroix Pontos watches, including dressier Pontos models and sportier Pontos S collection pieces. I think it is important to say that the Pontos family is more about market positioning and price, as opposed to any one design or visual theme. For this reason, Pontos watches have markedly fluctuated over the years when it comes to how they look, be it more brand-distinctive and modern, or more classic and mainstream. Swiss Maurice Lacroix has once again evolved the Pontos and Pontos S families into new styles, and that includes the Pontos S Chronograph 43mm which has been a mainstay of the brand for quite a while now. Compared to the Pontos S Chronograph of a few years ago, the latest generation Pontos S Chronograph watches are decidedly more classic, urban, and mainstream in their appeal.
That said, Maurice Lacroix has introduced some welcome modern features such as a ceramic bezel, as well as quick-release bars for the straps and bracelet — so this isn’t an old-style watch, by any means. Maurice Lacroix does, however, return to its beloved Swiss Made ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movement as the powerhouse for the Pontos S Chronograph, a movement that is as reliable and convenient as it is unremarkable and commonplace. That does not, however, mean that the Valjoux 7750 is a poor choice of calibers; it just means that timepiece enthusiasts looking at the new Pontos S Chronograph will like the result but probably find it hard to describe what the Pontos S Chronograph does thst no other watch on the market offers.
Maurice Lacroix has other watches it makes for collectors, and the goal of the Pontos S Chronograph is to have a high-quality, familiar-looking, and affordable package for mainstream luxury buyers who want something nice but who aren’t overly concerned about originality or making a bold artistic statement with their wrist. Thus, the Pontos S Chronograph 43mm is supposed to be good enough for a watch enthusiast but is really marketed toward someone who has one or a small number of high-end watches in their collection, or who simply wants a versatile mechanical sports watch they can “dress up” when needed that won’t call undue attention to them.
Design-wise, it is fair to say that Maurice Lacroix channeled its inner TAG Heuer, as the Pontos S Chronograph has a similarity to the TAG Heuer Carrera Caliber 16. Both watches have the same movement, same case size (TAG Heuer produces a 43mm-wide version of the Carrera), similar dials, and a similar visual personality and theme. Maurice Lacroix is going for a value play here, as the Pontos S Chronograph has a nearly $2,000 lower MSRP. As is often the case with Maurice Lacroix, the Pontos S Chronograph 43mm does feel like a good value from a Swiss watch company.
Maurice Lacroix brand DNA isn’t absent from the Pontos S Chronograph design, but it is pretty subtle. More so, you’d need to be quite familiar with the Maurice Lacroix brand to spot relevant design characteristics such as the form of the stepped lugs, the rounded tapering hands, and the particular design of the curved chronograph pushers and lugs. Despite those relatively small (but impactful) elements, Maurice Lacroix is very much going for a “mainstream” (i.e. vaguely branded) look design meant for consumers who are shopping for a “look” and will get it from any trusted brand that effectively courts them.
The Pontos S Chronograph 43mm watch you see here is the reference PT6038-SSL2H-430-C that has a deep blue (almost black dial) with steel case and black ceramic bezel. This reference includes the timepiece with the matching steel bracelet and also the fabric-style blue strap. Oddly, Maurice Lacroix also sells the same watch with either just the bracelet (the reference PT6038-SSL22-430-1) or with just the fabric strap (reference PT6038-SSL24-430-4). I really don’t understand how that doesn’t cause some choice paralysis, given that the price points are relatively close to each another. Isn’t Maurice Lacroix best served by offering just one version with both a bracelet and strap? More so, in addition to this deep blue dial, the Pontos S Chronograph is also available with a silver dial that has two black subdials for the chronograph counters. The silver one has a nice “Panda Dial” look.
Maurice Lacroix also produces a relatively similar dressier version of the Pontos known as the Pontos Chronograph 43mm (versus the Pontos S Chronograph 43mm). It costs a little bit less and has a more classic (versus sporty) personality to it, even though it has the same movement and case size. What the Pontos S has on top of it is the ceramic bezel, a marginally more eye-catching dial, and slight differences in the case and bracelet design. The Pontos S Chronograph 43mm case is also water resistant to 100 meters and is topped with a slightly domed AR-coated sapphire crystal. There is another sapphire crystal on the caseback that allows you to admire the mechanical movement inside the case.
Overall, this is a handsome and solid steel watch with a mostly sporty finish but enough polish and shiny elements to make it stand out in a room. The ceramic bezel is thin by design and has a tachymeter scale printed on it. This is a welcome material because ceramic is very scratch resistant and pairs well with a sapphire crystal for the top of a watch. One complaint is that the Pontos S Chronograph 43mm is on the thicker side, which means it needs to be worn snugly so as not to flow around on the wrist because it is a heavier watch. If you had to compare it to a car, it would certainly be a luxury SUV, but one meant for mostly city driving.
I happen to like the Pontos S Chronograph watch on the bracelet most. I think it looks nice and is comfortable, though the strap has a lot of fashion merits. Again, if you have both the strap and steel bracelet, you can switch between the two relatively easily given the quick-release spring bars. Given the fabric nature of the strap it is going to be a bit on the stiffer side, and it comes on a deployant-style clasp. As is the case with many Maurice Lacroix watches, the strap is fitted with a small applied Maurice Lacroix logo pin.
Returning to the inside of the watch, Maurice Lacroix refers to the Swiss Made Valjoux 7750 movement as its caliber ML112. It has about two days of power reserve and operates at 4Hz. It features the time with subsidiary seconds at the 9 o’clock position on the dial, as well as a 12-hour chronograph and day/date complication windows. The dial of the watch itself is a deep blue that looks almost black. Applied hour markers are handsome, but the level of luminant on the dial is on the anemic side for a sports watch. The applied rings around the upper and lower subdials offer a welcome sense of visual depth and also help highlight the chronograph (versus time-telling) part of the dial. It is interesting to see how Maurice Lacroix played with color by checkering in red some of the minute markers around the periphery of the dial.
Maurice Lacroix offers a pretty nice watch for those who have a hole in their collection for a piece of this style. The Pontos S Chronograph 43mm is also perfectly suited as a daily-wear versatile luxury sports watch for a slew of people who are only going to have one nice watch to wear at a time. Distinctive looks and originality might not be its strong suit, but that isn’t what Maurice Lacroix was going for in this product family. It is otherwise an excellent high-quality mainstream luxury mechanical watch with a personality studied from what collectors enjoy these days. Price for the reference PT6038-SSL2H-430-C Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Chronograph 43mm watch with both the strap and bracelet — it is a bit less with just one or the other) is $3,500 USD. Learn more at the Maurice Lacroix website here.