It’s not often we cover Maurice Lacroix on Monochrome, but over the past few years we’ve seen a number of interesting watches being introduced by this manufacture. We showed you the Masterpiece Gravity as a Baselworld 2014 introduction, but now we bring share our extensive review just prior to Baselworld 2015, in anticipation of the novelties to come.
Founded in 1976, the Swiss brand of Maurice Lacroix is upping their game since 2006 by bringing in-house developed components and movements to their line-up. The introduction of a square and clover-leaf wheel, intriguingly placed on the dial-side of the watch and doubling as an indicator for the seconds or a seemingly floating seconds hand are two of the noteworthy visible characteristics of their work. For the Gravity, an in-house silicon escapement receives a prominent place on the front of the watch. I’d say “on the dial” but there really isn’t one except for the small, off-center one.
Although a look and feel of modernity oozes out of the Masterpiece Gravity, the style it is executed in is also remarkably classical. Blued hands, off centered lacquered dial, guilloche motif: it is an interesting mix of vintage aesthetics and modern materials combined in a very good looking package. The relatively large dimensions, both in diameter and in relative height, make it stand out on the wrist and almost impossible to hide it under a cuff. Not that it has something to hide at all; the Masterpiece Gravity is a very handsome timepiece.
The magnifying sapphire crystal, especially noticeable under an angle, adds a level of playfulness to the Gravity which is unexpected at first. The play of light across the various levels and of course the purple reflections of the silicon parts are mesmerizing. I couldn’t help but notice that on more than one occasion, I found myself rotating my wrist slightly to see the sunlight dance across the Clou de Paris guiloché and see the escapement wheel turn from black to blue to purple while not paying a second of attention to the actual time.
In terms of actual features, as in “indications”, there is not much to talk about, as it is a time-only watch. That is by no means a let-down because the Masterpiece Gravity has something far more interesting to behold. The large diameter balance-wheel, fully in sight on the lower left-hand quarter of the watch, is a pleasant feature. The entire set-up is developed in-house by Maurice Lacroix, including the balance-wheel, hair spring, silicon escapement wheel, anchor and all pinions and pallets – a big step forward for the brand. The benefits of a silicon escapement are evident, as it requires no lubrication and is unaffected by magnetic forces pushing and pulling on the regulating organ. We’ll dive into this a little bit later in this review.
Dial and Hands
The Masterpiece Gravity features an off-set dial at 2 o’clock indicating hours and minutes, and an additional small-seconds sub-dial at 5 o’clock. To get this off my chest, I feel the hands for hours minutes and seconds hands are too bulky for this otherwise refined looking watch. Even though they are blued, and shaped in a classical style, I feel that they could have been slimmer. It wouldn’t change anything about the readability of the watch, as the indications are perfectly legible but it does take away from the refinement a bit.
The white lacquered dial in the upper right quarter of the watch features a blue minute track on the outside and printed roman numerals in black all around. The Maurice Lacroix logo at 12 o’clock is crisp and adds a finishing touch to the small dial. Just below the main dial is a small seconds indicator with another one of those bulky looking hands, a seconds track on the edge and red numerals at every 10 seconds around the register. The small seconds dial is finished in a sunray pattern, playing with light.
Surrounding the main dial and the small seconds indicator is a raised portion of the movement, featuring a Clou de Paris guilloché expanding in size from the balance wheel outward. One thing is striking though, and that is the extra bridge at 11 o’clock. It doesn’t seem to serve any other purpose than to fill up the dial in order to keep it somewhat symmetrical, or (and this is highly debatable) show off their skills in finishing. It seems weird to put a useless bridge into a movement, but it does complete the dial somehow.
Case and Strap
As mentioned, the Masterpiece Gravity is a large watch. It measures 43mm across, which is slightly larger than other dressier watches we’ve come across lately. Then again, this is not a typical dress watch. The case, made in stainless steel, features both brushed and polished surfaces, but lacks a bezel. The domed sapphire crystal almost goes out to the outer edge of the case. A flat sapphire crystal on the back allows for an unobscured view of the in-house movement, number 13 in the Maurice Lacroix collection.
The curved lugs, again both brushed and polished surfaces ensure quite a comfortable fit on the wrist. The relatively high watch does feel a bit top-heavy and might move around a bit if the placing of the holes isn’t exactly right. A small thing to take into consideration, since it is still a watch with a good fit and finish. The finishing touch of the case is the knurled non screw-down crown adorned with the M-logo. Just as the case, the small crown features alternating finishes.
The Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Gravity is attached to a dark brown crocodile leather strap with matching stitching and finished with a steel folding buckle. A nice touch is the small concaved part between the lugs that allows the strap to be attached closer to the case.
The review has pretty much been focused on the dial for obvious reasons. The self-winding ML230 caliber, Maurice Lacroix’ 13th in-house developed movement in under 10 years operates at a leisurely 18,000 oscillations. As mentioned, the escapement is done in silicon. It’s not too long ago that Ulysse Nardin incorporated the material into watchmaking for the very first time in the Freak, back in 2001. We’ve come a long way since then, but silicon isn’t as widespread as you might think up to this point. All the more reason to applaud the guts of Maurice Lacroix for breaking grounds as a manufacture.
The back of the movement has received as much love as the front, and is decorated with a circular Côtes de Genève on the bridge and rotor. A vast array of different finishes can be seen, such as circular graining, a snailing finish on the barrel cover and polishing of the sockets for the jewels.
The ML230 boasts up to 50 hours of power, more than enough to get you through regular use. Esthetically, the movement is built up on multiple levels, adding to the height of the watch and a look of depth gazing through the boxed sapphire on the front or the flat sapphire crystal in the back.
- Visible escapement on dial-side of watch
- Boxed-sapphire crystal plays works as magnifying glass and plays with light
- Finishing is very well executed
- Delicate, high sapphire crystal, likely to damage easily
- The placement of a “placebo-bridge” at 11 o’clock
- Hour-minute-second hands are a bit too bulky
Besides this all-steel version, Maurice Lacroix offers another iteration of the Masterpiece Gravity, in anthracite PVD-coating and a black strap. The offset dial of the anthracite model has baton hour markers and a red seconds hand on the small sub register. The movement inside received a fitting treatment to match the darkened case and they’ve changed the finishing. Instead of a Clou de Paris guilloche, a straight graining provides a more industrial look to the Gravity.
Regardless which version appeals to you the most, they are available in a run of 250 pieces each, at a price of 13.900 USD. (Roughly 12.200 Euros or 13.000 Swiss Francs).
For more information: Maurice Lacroix.
The watch was provided by Clockwise watch- and jewelry retailer in Hellevoetsluis, the Netherlands, for which we are thankful.