One of the signature tendencies of Maurice Lacroix is to produce skeletonized watches, and many have been seen as part of the Masterpiece collection over the years. With the release of the Aikon collection only a few years ago since 2016, and with it having become an important part of the brand’s portfolio since then, accounting now for more than 50% of their business, it was only a matter of time before a skeleton watch would express itself in the Aikon collection.
At this point, there already exists the Aikon Skeleton which came out last year and the slightly idiosyncratic Aikon Mercury Automatic with hands that would only tell the time when the watch is set at a certain angle, that both featured skeletonized movements.
This year however sees the debut of the Aikon Chronograph Skeleton which is undoubtedly the flagship of Maurice Lacroix’s 2020 novelties. What this watch essentially consists of is the brand’s Masterpiece Chronograph Skeleton 45mm, but placed into an Aikon case.
Afterall the movement is the same – a skeletonized Valjoux 7750 based movement modified to remove the 12 hour counter normally at 6 o’clock to create a bi-compax layout. As such, the main architecture of the movement is identical – as is the way that the skeletonization has been dealt with. Details such the cut out circular tracks for the running seconds sub-dial on the left and the 30 minute counter sub-dial on the right, as well as the mainspring visible at 6 o’clock are all there and present as expected.Both watches however are vastly different in their design intent, with the most notable change coming in the form of the bold and masculine Aikon case that changes the presentation of the movement drastically.
Along with the angularity of the case, with its straight lines, the chunky crown, and screw down pushers seen in previous automatic versions of the Aikon chronograph are all there.
The boldest change however has to be the way that the Aikon’s signature rider tabs on the bezel, have been modified in this watch. Whereas previously they were somewhat integrated in the round of the bezel, and then changed slightly in function with the Aikon Venturer, making them places for fingers to grip when turning the now rotatable diving bezel, but still largely looking the same.
However, in the new Aikon Chronograph Skeleton, these rider tabs now overhang the dial over the outer minute track with each engraved with numerals to mark out every 10 minutes. It is a slightly deconstructed look that some might say makes the watch feel incomplete in the bezel, but will provoke others to say that it echoes the intent of the movement itself, to be skeletonized.
The only splash of colour from the dial is the blued central chronograph seconds hand which gives a nice contrast against the almost monochromatic grey background made up of the skeletonized movement.
It might not be the easiest watch to read under all lighting conditions, but who are we kidding? Most skeletonized watches are not bought with this consideration in mind. Rather it is a source of pleasure and delight to see the movement in motion, particularly in a chronograph, where the owner can see the cam and lever system working when the pushers are depressed, along with the other highlights, such as the keyless works, gear train, mainspring and balance wheel, all doing their thing.
I like it. Its bold and brash with its large 44mm width, and with a 200 metre water resistance that seems at odds with the almost gentile nature of skeletonization, comes across as a vibrant clash of concepts that somehow manages to work.