Monochrome Watches
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Stéphane Waser, Managing Director of Maurice Lacroix, On The Impact of Aikon And The Future of The Brand

Talking versatile sports watches, and the recent success of the brand.

| By Xavier Markl | 6 min read |

Stéphane Waser has worked at Maurice Lacroix since 2008. After his position in marketing, he was appointed head of the company in 2014. A few years later, following the launch of the Aikon collection and successful brand building, Maurice Lacroix has turned into a profitable brand. We spent the day at the brand’s manufacture in Saignelégier, chatting with Stéphane Waser, who shared his thoughts on the brand’s past, present, and future, and the importance of the Aikon collection on the brand’s recent success. 

Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – Stéphane, thanks for having us in Saignelégier. How is Maurice Lacroix doing?

Stéphane Waser, Managing Director of Maurice Lacroix – We are doing great. We have been delivering positive numbers for three years now. The pandemic still marked 2021, and supply chain lead times increased at the end of the year. Although it was a challenging year – even more challenging than 2020 – we produced better results. All in all, we are very happy, the Aikon strategy is still effective. So, things are great.

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As you just mentioned, we are finding our way out of the pandemic or at least getting to a different phase of the pandemic. What has this period changed?

Well, for sure, digitisation. We also took advantage of the situation to initiate many projects and optimise our internal processes. We have improved our SAP for enhanced performance, we have implemented Salesforce, we have new forecasting and planning tools, and the overall digitisation of the business has accelerated. We now engage and discuss way more with customers online. Many things from that period have become habits and are positive for business.

Maurice Lacroix Aikon Skeleton 39mm

Aikon has been a gamechanger for the brand. Earlier this year, you introduced a different product type with the Aikon #tide and, more recently, the Aikon Skeleton. Can you tell us about your strategy?

2016 was the launch of Aikon quartz, 2018 was the mechanical Aikon, and then 2019 was our first manufacture movement for Aikon. What is interesting about the collection is that it is very versatile, and you can build it up across different categories. Now is the time to go more in-depth with sustainability, and we are adding a new dimension to the collection.

We are also continuing our journey into the field of mechanical watchmaking competence with the Aikon Skeleton. What is interesting is that there are so many different ways to approach this goal. The industry is often black or white when it comes to movement manufacturing. Movements are presented as either made in-house or bought from third-party makers. Partnerships are new in this respect. We have worked with Sellita to fully customise our skeleton movement. Also, for the Masterpiece collection, we have used some movements with a Sellita base with some of our in-house modules. 

There is still a lot to explore in this area. For instance, the Aikon Master Grande Date we launched at the end of last year resulted from a partnership with Fleury for the manufacturing of components. So you have to find solutions and think out of the box to conceptualise a watch. This is also the future. 

What was the idea behind the #tide Project?

When we launched the Aikon in 2016, we had a much older target group. However, we suddenly found ourselves talking to 20-year-old clients, to millennials. The success of the brand over the past years relies on this launch. It is not just a new product launch; we changed the whole brand positioning and the whole company culture.

We have become younger talking to millennials. And we want to continue that journey and become more relevant to the next upcoming generation, the so-called GenZ. We believe that GenZ’ are interested in Swiss watches, in this specific cultural heritage. These young people are connected and digitally savvy. But they also know that a mobile phone soon becomes obsolete and after a couple of years, you throw it away. There is a need for sustainability. This is why a product like a Swiss watch incorporating sustainability, like the Aikon #tide, speaks to them.

The Aikon #tide is made of recycled PET bottles, highly refined or “upcycled”, as we say. We add fibreglass to the plastic to create a composite. So first, we use recycled plastic to craft a high-quality watch case, because if it is Maurice Lacroix, it has to be high quality. It has a sapphire crystal, a screwed crown, and a screwed case back offering water-resistance of 100m. The composite is extremely resistant, and you can produce it in any colour. Second, for every watch sold, we contribute 20% of the production cost to the #tide Foundation destined for education, infrastructure and sustainability projects, mainly in South East Asia, where there are many plastic waste problems because of ocean currents.

Will Aikon be the only focus this year?

The product strategy has not changed in the past five years. Masterpiece remains the top-notch collection; it is about craftsmanship and excellence but, of course, at an accessible price. This will continue. We have a customer base interested in quality products with this type of design language. For those who are a bit more modern or progressive, we have Aikon.

We also have faith in the Pontos line and continue to nurture it. Whereas Aikon is a bit bolder and more urban, Pontos is the most elegant and exclusive facet of the collection. The price points are very close. We have put the base in place over the past two years for Pontos, and we’ll have something new at Geneva Watch Days during the second part of the year.

Maurice Lacroix Aikon Skeleton 39mm

We’re just back from Watches & Wonders 2022 and other industry presentations in Geneva. What is your take on such events?

Our strategy has always been the same. We have relevant product launches every quarter. So, we mix presentations during fairs or with dedicated launch events, eventually digital events. For this year, we were planning to exhibit at Inhorgenta, but we had to cancel because of the pandemic. We will take part in Geneva Watch Days in September. We have decided not to participate in Watches & Wonders. In the end, what is important is to reach our customers. Digital is key in this respect. At the same time, we need physical presentations; it is essential to meet our retailers and distributors, which is why the fairs are also important.

Maurice Lacroix Aikon Skeleton 39mm

What are the main challenges for the brand today?

The main challenge is to continue to grow. We have built solid foundations; we now need to spread the word. We still haven’t reached everybody. I think we make wonderful Swiss watches, accessibly priced and offering high-quality. So we need to get the message out there!

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3 responses

  1. Love your styles and specs, but the integrated bracelet kills it for many of us who want to switch things up with aftermarket bands once in a while.

  2. @DrHydro: The integrated bracelet is the whole idea behind the watch though. It wouldn’t be an Aikon without it.

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