For more than 25 years, Maurice Lacroix has offered to watch enthusiasts nicely executed watches with unusual displays – mainly retrograde indications – yet with friendly prices. This collection, named “Masterpiece”, allows access to complications and manufacture movements without breaking your piggy bank. In 1999, ML launched its first retrograde watch, the Masterpiece Retrograde Calendar. 19 years later, this signature watch comes back fully redesigned. Let’s have a look at the 2018 Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Retrograde Calendar.
The update of the Masterpiece collection started a year ago, with two models: the Masterpiece Double Retrograde and the Masterpiece Moon Retrograde. Both watches, packed with complications and hands displaying indications in an unusual way introduced a new style for this collection – in fact, two new styles, we’ll see that later – with a combination of modern and traditional codes. The Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece collection used to be slightly baroque, with double stepped lugs and bezel, the use of two-tone case and Roman numerals. In the early 2010s, the brand operated a drastic change in style, with much more modern versions. Maybe, there was a balance to find between these two approaches, in order to stay true to what the collection was at first and yet offer something contemporary. This is what the current update tends to achieve.
Modern, chic, elegant but not too dressy… The Masterpiece collection is about being complex and yet wearable (and accessible to a larger audience). After the Double Retrograde and the Moon Retrograde, it’s time for the Retrograde Calendar, the watch that actually started it all, to be updated and to receive new cases and dials. The case of the Masterpiece Retrograde Calendar is more casual and cleaner than it used to be in the past. With its domed polished bezel and its elongated lugs with polished bevel and satin-finished flanks, it is modern but restrained. This watch isn’t a small piece though. At 43mm in diameter and 15mm in height, don’t expect it to become your tuxedo piece but rather a daily watch with a masculine presence.
While the display is equal to the original 1999 model, the dial has been updated. Once again, while conservating a modern feel, Maurice Lacroix has decided to give back the Masterpiece collection its traditional appeal. Two dials are available on this new Masterpiece Retrograde Calendar, both with classical decorations. The first one shows a two-tone surface – opaline white with contrasting sandblasted silvery tracks – enriched with a “clous de Paris” pattern and blue hands and applied indexes. The second one, more modern indeed thanks to its deep blue colour, features Geneva stripes and a slightly cleaner style, with different tracks and sub-dials. On the latter, the hands and applied indexes are polished metal.
The main interest of the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Retrograde Calendar certainly is its unusual and complex display. While time is classically indicated by central hands and a small second at 6 o’clock, the upper part of the dial exposes two retrograde indications: the power reserve at 2 o’clock and the date at 10 o’clock. While these two remain rather simple complications, the way the date is displayed adds to the horological content of this watch.
Note: a retrograde hand has a different motion compared to normal hands. In most cases, hands are running around a dial on 360 degrees, making a full revolution. A retrograde indication also runs in a circular way, however, It has a starting point and an ending point, usually on a semi-circular on a track. Its motion isn’t continuous. Once reaching the end of the track, the hand jumps back to the starting point.
Powering the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Retrograde Calendar is the calibre ML190, a manufacture movement with automatic winding – as a reminder, the early versions of the Masterpiece Retrograde Calendar were using a modified hand-wound Unitas movement. While some of the Unitas roots are still present in this automatic calibre, it has been deeply modified to become an exclusive movement. Even though the watch is large, the movement is accordingly proportioned (something rare enough to be mentioned). The bridges are rhodium plated and decorated with Geneva stripes in Colimaçon with polished edges. This movement is a slow runner (2.5Hz frequency), allowing for a comfortable 52h power reserve.
The Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Retrograde Calendar is worn on an alligator leather strap with the company’s distinctive logo applied and a steel folding clasp. It will be reasonably priced, at CHF 4,200 (inc. taxes). More details on www.mauricelacroix.com.