Maurice Lacroix has hit its stride in the past couple years thanks to the Aikon series — watches that bear more than a passing resemblance to iconic Gerald Genta designs. The Aikon is a head-turner of a watch with a style uncommon from major producers in the below $2,000 price segment. When the Swiss company announced this year that the Aikon would be updated with a new diver line, it seemed like a natural fit for the sporty design cues.
The Aikon can be a divisive discussion piece – some feel like its resemblance to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is a bit too close for comfort. While the Aikon claims roots from a 1990s Lacroix Calypso model, it certainly does share characteristics with the five figure Royal Oak design. But those similarities start to fade with the release of the Venturer – a diver with both elegance and bold features that will surely attract a wide swath of watch enthusiasts.
Maurice Lacroix seems focused on two watch buying segments – the Masterpiece collection will draw those looking for a taste of Haute Horology without the huge price tag. The Pontos and Aikon lines are more aimed toward casual sports watch enthusiasts. The Venturer will appeal to those looking for a dive watch with dress appeal.
Maurice Lacroix smartly chose to mix things up with the bezel on the Venturer, contrasting the glossy ceramic insert with bold enamel-filled stainless minute markers. The bezel is uni-direction and functions flawlessly. Solid but smooth clicks will allow users to keep track of their dives, or, more likely, whatever you are timing at your office that day. The 43mm case is on the large size, but completely manageable and with a svelte wrist presence achieved with a nice thin profile.
As I mentioned before, the case does pick up cues from Genta-inspired pieces, but the roundness of the bezel along with the gorgeous ceramic insert sets the Venturer apart. This watch has its own personality. The most AP-like feature may be the integrated lug system with two metal attachments to hold the strap in place. It’s a very Royal Oak feature and does play prominently into the look. The mix of finely brushed surfaces and polished details give the whole piece a luxurious feel. This is a watch you can show off and those not familiar with Maurice Lacroix will think it’s a much more expensive piece.
One of my reviewer friends pointed out that in initial pictures of the Venturer, the 30 minute bezel marker was flipped – that’s something that people really seem to love to hate and I think ML made the wise decision to play it safe and switch the 30 marker back to the normal position.
The caseback is closed and features a deep-engraved logo and specifications. Nothing too exciting here, but this is a dive watch and a closed caseback is much better for water resistance. The Venturer is water resistant to 300 meters.
The dial details are really the star of the show for me. I personally own the Aikon Bronze Automatic Limited Edition, so I’m well aware of the fine detail work ML is capable of with respect to dial finishing. The Venturer does not disappoint with fine dial features. Oversized and polished applied markers with ample lume plots mark the hours while a fine sunburst blue simply jumps out at the wearer. Everything seems to be applied with outstanding precision. This is a watch that lives up to the cliché of “punching above its weight class.”
The Venturer gives buyers the choice of shipping with a rubber strap or adding an integrated bracelet for a bit more money. My review piece has the rubber strap without the bracelet and I must say it’s a beauty and very comfortable fit. The Aikon bracelets I’ve handled are very nice as well and interchange easily with a quick release system accessed from the backside of the watch. That’s a very convenient detail often overlooked by companies. I could see switching this strap out with a nice brown leather strap – though, you’ll likely need to stick with ML straps for the proprietary lug integration. (I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple custom strap makers find a work-around).
Specs and Pricing:
Water resistance to 300m
Blue sunbrushed Dial
Automatic ML 115 (based on Selitta 220-1)
Hours, minutes and seconds
Date at 3 o’clock
Number of jewels: 26
Power Reserve: 38 hours
Vibrations: 28’800 vph / 4 Hz
Price with rubber strap only: $1,890
Price with rubber strap and stainless steel bracelet: $2,190
The Aikon Venturer really scores with great design features and a look suited for just about any occasion. This is a watch aimed directly at fans of versatile dive watch pieces with a luxury aesthetic. And with some new details, the Venturer begins to develop the series personality on its own footing.
(Review watch on loan from ECJ Luxe Charlotte. Contact Ross Gallin at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him WATCHA sent you.)