Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic Review:
A Watchfam Divided

By: Kaz Mirza

Most people in the watchfam have a strong opinion on the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic (and the whole Aikon product line). They either love it or they hate it, and I can totally understand where both of those viewpoints are coming from. It’s impossible to deny that the watch is very clearly inspired by the design of the AP Royal Oak, which either captures people’s imagination or causes them to hiss and spit at the “affordable homage.”

But are such polarizing viewpoints fair? Are both sides of the Maurice Lacroix Aikon spectrum doing themselves and the watch a disservice by focalizing it through the AP Royal Oak lens? I recently received the opportunity to spend time with the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic in order to write this review. The watch arrived on my door step and I went through about 5 false starts on this write up. I would start writing about the watch and something just didn’t feel right. Then it clicked. I wasn’t writing a review about this watch. I was writing a comparison piece between the ML Aikon Automatic and the AP Royal Oak. That’s not a review. That’s leading with a biased view point. Therefore in the best interest of the watch and in order to provide all of you with an authentic review, I’m focusing on the watch in and of itself to review build quality, design choices, legibility, and overall just how the Mauric Lacroix stacks up to the taste of the discerning watch collector.

The Bracelet:

The bracelet is easily the star of this piece. The construction feels incredible (especially in conjunction with the case). Each link is comprised of alternating brushed patters going across 5 different surfaces. The outer most edges of the bracelet are beveled and high polished. The effect is that the light carries and dances beautifully as you roll your wrist. I spent about 24 hours rolling my wrist when the Aikon Automatic came in for review. The bracelets features a subtle and gradual taper towards the clasp, starting at 25mm at the lugs and tapering to 20mm.

Plus, the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic bracelet’s clasp is a hidden butterfly type. This clasp completely hides itself under the links of bracelet, which creates an unending sequence of links as your wear the watch (which really made wristrolls a helluva a lot of fun). A very welcomed surprise to me was the decoration hidden inside the ML Aikon’s butterfly clasp. The hinges and main clasp release feature a very fine detailed perlage decoration, which to me is a special detail since it’s one of those things you’re only going to see when you either put the watch on or take it off. It’s not something that people on the subway or in the elevator will be able to spot on your watch, which makes it feel like a personal touch. The clasp action itself is very smooth and the locks very securely. However the inside of the clasp where the pin clicks in is very high polished, which can result in easy marks and scuffs (as I’ve noticed is the case with the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic review unit I’m working with).

The nature and behavior of the Maurice Lacroix Aikon’s bracelet allows itself to conform very comfortably to the wearer’s wrist. The remarkable thing is that the design feels both elegant and secure at the same time. When you’re wearing the ML Aikon you’re really wearing this thing. It’s presence is something that one tends to always be aware of during the wearing experience (which hasn’t been helping my new-found wristroll kink).

In a bit of an odd move, the Maurice Lacroix Aikon’s bracelet features a quick release mechanism that basically allows you to take the bracelet off in no-time-flat and without any tools. Immediately this brings up the potential prospect of being able to change straps and have the ML Aikon Automatic run the whole gamut of your constantly accumulating strap drawer… However that’s not the case. The Aikon Automatic’s bracelet is technically integrated, so even though you can remove the bracelet, the available space won’t allow you to test out your own leather straps of NATOs on there. However Maurice Lacroix does offer addition leather straps that are designed to fit the Aikon Automatic’s unique lug integration system. However, I would have preferred to have the quick change system in addition to the ability to use my own straps.

The other negative aspect about the bracelet is the fact that (oddly enough) the screws are collar and pin. Which means when you’re going to size the bracelet you’re going to need a sizing tool, elbow grease, and some bandages (for when you inevitably stab the shit out of yourself while trying to size the bracelet). Or you can always take it to a trusted watch tech/servicer and have them size it for you. But if you’re like me you prefer to do that sort of things yourself, which is why screw links are always welcome. I just found it odd that with a watch in this price range and with so much emphasis on the bracelet, that screw links wouldn’t be included. There are $400 microbrand pieces out there with screw links, so the technology is easily available as far as I’m concerned.

Oh, and one of the other quirks about the watch is that the integrated bracelet doesn’t allow the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic to site flat when you place is clasp-side-down. Not a big deal but it may prove to be difficult if you travel with this piece in a watch roll as the piece won’t lay flat when you try to wrap and tie the roll for travel.

The Case

The strong wrist presence of the ML Aikon Automatic is the result of how the bracelet and the case work in conjunction with each other. The case certainly feels like an organic extension of the bracelet. There’s brushed detailing on the case sides with a beveled high polish detail that echoes the brushed/polished treatment of the bracelet links. Staring directly at the case gives you a classic rounded-timepiece case profile. However from the side you get a better sense of how the watch plays with hard edges.

What never quite jived with me was the fixed bezel. Like the rest of the case and the bracelet, there’s an interplay between polished and brushed on the bezel’s surface. However, the resulting effect here only served to be a distraction to both legibility and how you’re eye was able to focus on the watch.


The crystal over the dial and the one of the case back are both sapphire. The case back itself features a series of screws that are seemingly holding it down. Interestingly, the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic is rated for 200 meters of water resistance (Yup – the crown screws down as well).

Measuring in at 42mm in diameter, 48mm lug to lug, and 11mm thick, the Aikon case does tend to sit comfortably on the wrist even though the case is straight and doesn’t feature any curvature (nor do the lugs curve down past the case for wrist-contour). However, as I’ve stated the relationship between the bracelet and case is what’s driving the comfort of this watch. I’m unable to comment on the experience of wearing the branded leather strap because my Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic review unit didn’t include one.


 
 

The Dial

There are three dial variations available for the ML Aikon Automatic: black, blue, and white. What tends to stand out the most is this grid-like dial texture that has a slight sheen to it. The hands are noted as being rhodium plated, which really brings out the shine. The markers also feature a high polish as well.

Most of the dial elements are sharing a very similar shape profile: long and thin. I imagine this was a conscious choice in order to ensure the watch still maintained a sense of elegance. However, during my time with the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic, legibility was an issue. The high polished elements with their thin shape profile offered very little contrast against the white dial. All the legibility elements of the dial tended to blended into the background when the light hit it. I imagine though that the legibility of the Aikon Automatic would be much stronger on the black or blue dial versions.

However the quality of construction on the dial seems quite solid. The lines that make up the dial grid are clean and really well done. Plus the hands have a very delicate and slight taper towards them that really drives home a sense of refinement. If I ever have the chance to spend time with a blue or black dial Aikon Automatic I’ll let everyone know if my legibility woes dissipate.

The Movement

Probably my least favorite aspect of the watch – the movement felt a bit like a box that needed to just be checked off. The Aikon Automatic is powered by the ML115 Caliber, which is essentially a Maurice Lacroix branded base Sellita SW200 (a more accessible version of the ETA 2824). The movement appears to have the standard decoration that these SW200s receive – perlage on the bridge plates and Geneve stripes on the rotor. The rotor is branded with the Maurice Lacroix brand name and logo.

One thing I’ve noticed with Sellita SW200s in other watches is that the winding action of the movement itself is actually a bit clunky in that there is a sense of unneeded resistance if you manually wind the piece. This is a movement quirk also present in the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic. With a watch in this price range that’s trying to express a sense of refinement, one would have expected the movement treatment to be as finished and focused on as the bracelet.

However, in terms of performance the movement is quite adequate. It’s a simple three-hander with a date. It’s just that the effort put into movement/guts of the watch aren’t quite congruent with the obvious attention they put on the bracelet.

Maurice Lacroix ML115 Movement Specs:

    • 38 hour power reserve
    • 28,800 vph
    • 26 Jewels
    • date wheel
    • Automatic rotor with manual wind
    • Perlage on the bridge with Geneva Stripes on the rotor
    • Rhodium-plated

 

Final Thoughts:

In its own right, the Maurice Lacroix is a fine timepiece. However, there are caveats. This wouldn’t be the first watch in its price range that I would recommend to someone looking to flex their horological muscles. By that I mean the approach that the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic takes is to put comfort and wearability first while putting legibility and movement-focus second. For people like me who love understanding how a brand utilizes or modulates base movements, putting a base SW200 with a branded rotor just isn’t congruent with its higher than normal price tag.

Current pricing available on Amazon for this version that I reviewed as well as the the version in blue (which I think looks WAY better) – but I’ll let you guys be the judge.

However I say that with the full understanding that focusing on movement customization and unique legibility often causes the price to go up. So it seems like ML had a choice with the Aikon Automatic: (1) spend money on the guts or (2) spend money on the wearing experience. They chose the second option. If they somehow tried to compromise and chose to push the envelope with the movement while also going all out on the bracelet and case, then the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic would be much more expensive then it already is. So does that necessarily make it a “bad” watch? Totally not – it’s just very clearly a watch designed with a certain target consumer in mind. The type of person who would really enjoy this piece is looking for a straight-forward, nice-wearing dress watch for work or events. Or possibly a buyer who has already accumulated a very meaningful collection and they’re looking for something fun to try (obviously budget-permitting).

Of course, there’s the other type of buyer. Those that want to buy the Maurice Lacroix because it looks similar to the AP Royal Oak. To be blunt if you want to buy this watch because you think it will scratch that AP Royal Oak “itch,” please reconsider. I can see the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic satisfying that AP desire for maybe a month, but after that you’re attention will start to waiver and return back to the actual AP Royal Oak. That’s not to say that I believe the watch is a poor homage or a copy. Not at all – rather it’s the generally (and sadly) welcomed and narrow view that the Maurice Lacroix is an affordable stand-in for the AP RO. That’s a disservice to the watch. It’s common place for many products to take design inspiration from other products that came before. The unfortunate thing is that the Aikon Automatic decided to take inspiration from an iconic design that we haven’t really seen riffed on before. As a result, anything we see within that same design sphere just gets marked as a copy or the “affordable” version. Therefore I have no problem viewing the ML Aikon as its own distinct watch from the RO – complete with all its own pros and all its own cons.

MSRP for the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Automatic starts at $1,990 directly from the brand. But much lower prices can be found by hunting second hand pieces. There is also a previously released quartz version of the watch which you can source for basically about half the price.


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