The new Aikon Master Grand Date combines the dial layout of the beloved Masterpiece Gravity with the case of the Aikon, ushering a new era of possibilities for Maurice Lacroix.
Being the owner of a Maurice Lacroix Gravity and of an A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1, it’s obvious that I have a thing for off-centred dials. After all, moving the time sub-dial to a corner allows space on the front for other interesting things. In the case of the Gravity, it’s the huge dial side balance wheel. In the case of the Lange 1, it’s the power reserve and the big date.
So why am I bringing up these two watches in this article about the new Aikon Master Grand Date from Maurice Lacroix? Well, first of all, I think that the brand had people like me in mind when they created this watch. Second of all, I can’t help but think of the new watch as the result of what might happen when the essence of the Gravity and the Lange 1 are combined.
The Gravity part of it is obvious enough – there’s a generally similar layout with the huge dial side balance wheel and a small seconds sub-dial under the main time sub-dial on the right side. The main difference however is that the Gravity emphasised volume in its movement architecture, with a thick case matched with the bulbous box crystal, allowing the different dial elements to be placed on different levels.
The Aikon Master Grand Date by contrast is flatter in execution, and this is generally due to the aesthetics of the angular Aikon case.
In fact, I had a conversation with Thiébaut Bentz, Product & Marketing Director of Maurice Lacroix about this three years ago, when he showed me, an avowed fan of the Gravity, sketches of what would finally become the Aikon Master Grand Date today. Those were early days in the watch’s development, and the idea at the time was basically to put the dial design of a Gravity into an Aikon case.
I remarked at the time that it would be nice if the new watch could include a date complication as well, since it would suit the Aikon collection, and improve daily usability. To this idea, we pondered the question of how this could be done, given that the dial elements from the Gravity needed to remain the same. Many possibilities were discussed and, including one I proposed that was probably the best solution – a peripheral mounted indication of some kind that would go around the dial and not disturb the central elements with a typical date ring. Well, what finally was decided deep in the Maurice Lacroix manufacture is why the Lange 1 is under discussion today and the answer would come from the space that was occupied by the non-functional bridge of the Gravity.
So the Aikon Master Grand Date as the name suggests, has a big date, and its placement is very much reminiscent of the Lange 1, or if you want to be pedantic and correct, the self-winding Lange 1 Daymatic, which also has a big date on the left upper side of the dial and with the time sub-dial on the right.
Of course I am fully aware of the existence of the Glashütte Original PanoMaticInverse, which in comparison to the Aikon Master Grand Date, hits almost all the right notes, including with the position of the balance wheel on the front and the small seconds sub-dial, albeit with all elements reversed. But in this case I’m attributing the similarity more to Lange rather than Glashütte Original, since most of the Pano models have the big date window on the lower right of the dial, with the PanoMaticInverse being the lone exception. Or rather, what I mean more precisely is that comparisons will be made more spontaneously with the A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1 than with the Pano models from Glashütte Original.
Want to bring the comparison closer? How about this frame from the introductory video of the Aikon Master Grand Date with lines drawn across the dial elements all in a bid to impart harmony to the dial. If you’re familiar with the reams of text spilled describing the dial elements of the Lange 1 and how they’ve been arranged, this idea will be more than similar. There are slight differences of course due to the different dial elements that each watch has, but you get the idea.
The watch runs the Calibre ML 331 with a beat rate of 18,000 vph and a power reserve of 50 hours, which are identical specs to the Gravity, although it doesn’t have the latter’s silicon assortment including escape wheel and palette fork. The reason for this, as explain by Maurice Lacroix, was the relative fragility of these silicon parts, with chips found when inspected during service of customer watches. Thus the decision was made to revert back to more traditional materials in the new Aikon Master Grand Date.
The first version of the Aikon Master Grand Date will come in a blue colour scheme, with the time sundial with an embossed square pattern, against what looks like a blue grained backdrop. It comes in at a price of 7500 CHF on a bracelet plus strap or there is a possibility of buying the watch on the strap alone.
Obviously I have not seen the watch in person, but what I see is exciting enough for me to want to have this watch in hand to give you my thoughts. At 45mm wide and 15mm thick and with a screw down crown and 10 atm water resistance, it has Aikon durability with a little bit of “haute horology” in its design to make living with it that much more interesting than with a normal dial central minute and hour hand layout.
What’s more, the base movement can be developed further as a platform for different complications, since there is an efficient use of space now in the watch. Obviously there’s lots more about this watch to talk about, but I prefer to reserve my thoughts with a piece in the hand. Meanwhile you can check out this video from Maurice Lacroix with more details on the watch.