Review: Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer – a modestly priced dive watch

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Maurice Lacroix has been known as a brand producing quality timepieces but perhaps staying out of the limelight. The watches are well designed and manufactured, look good and represent good value. They recently released a new series of watches extending the Aikon line. This is a review of the adventurer watch – the Aikon Venturer.

Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer

As they have withdrawn themselves from Baselworld, Maurice Lacroix made the announcements for their new watches for this year earlier than the Basel dates. For the Asia Pacific Region, the new crop of watches were announced in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on March 6.

The new watches were all from the Aikon family, extending the line with the Venturer, a tool watch rated to a water resistance of 300m, a new automatic chronograph, and the Mercury, a watch with a complication which is perhaps not the most useful, but quite fun to play with. And a series of black dials and a camouflage model. We focus on the Venturer in this review.

Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer in a blue dial, blue bezel insert and blue rubber strap.

The case, dial and hands

The Aikon Venturer case is 43mm in nominal diameter, as the case is more a roughly angular tonneau shape rather than round. The initial aesthetic impression is rather positive, and the watch gives out the vibes of a strong, robust and rugged character. The thickness of the case and the strap/bracelet reaffirms this confidence.

The stainless steel case has nice detailing with claw like features extending from the case to the straps. This is perhaps more noticeable on the strap version when compared to the bracelet version which seem more like an extension of the case to the bracelet. Alternately finished surfaces in matte and polish highlight the features.

The bezel is rather massive, and has a ceramic infill which matches the colour of the dial. The markings on the bezel are large and clear. The claws motif is repeated on the bezel, with these features dominating at 12, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10. Each raised claw is engraved and marked with the minutes they represent. It moves with 120 reassuringly satisfying clicks in one direction.

After a day spent on the wrist with the usual adventurer activities – hiking, swimming at sea, kayaking, etc, the Aikon Venturer is none the worse except for picking up some dirt.

The dial itself is simple, and radiates in a beautiful blue. Hour markers are large and round and infilled with Superluminova. As are the large baton hands for both hour and minutes. A central seconds hand, equipped with a lollipop enables it to be visible in the dark. Legibility is very good, as is expected from a dive watch.

The build quality, especially the bracelet version is particularly interesting. The ML bracelet is comprised of alternating brushed patters going across 5 different surfaces. The outer most edges of the bracelet are beveled and high polished. The bracelets features a subtle and gradual taper towards the clasp, starting at 25mm at the lugs and tapering to 20mm.

The bracelet is well built. The links are well placed making it very pliable and comfortable on the wrist. In addition the alternately brushed and polished surfaces which dances beautifully in the light.

The movement

The movement is not visible from the closed caseback, as is expected of a watch with a water resistant rating of 300m. The stainless steel back is closed with 7 screws with special heads, and the back is embossed with the Maurice Lacroix logo within a wave motif.

The movement itself is the ML115, which is based on the Selitta SW200, carrying basically the standard finishing of the SW200 but with a rotor with Maurice Lacroix markings on it. We have not seen the movement, as we did not have the opportunity to open the case back. But we do know that the SW200 movement is robust and works well with few problems.

The arrows show two catches, marked with the Maurice Lacroix logo which allow quick release of the strap for a rapid swap. This is a useful feature, and we wished more watches at this price level be so equipped.

Of interest, and visible from the case caseback are two catches which allow the strap or bracelet to be released and swapped without the use of any tools. This is quite a nice system, similar to the one used by Vacheron Constantin’s Oversea collection, though perhaps less elegant. But at the price point that the Aikon is competing with, we think this is a brilliant feature. Removal and re-attachment of both bracelet and strap is easy and has a nice positive feel.

The competitive landscape

The Aikon Venturer is offered below the CHF 2,000 (S$2,700) price mark for either the strap or bracelet version. At this price point, there are not many competitors.

The Aikon Venturer in bracelet.

The obvious competition will come from the Japanese manufacuters. Both Seiko and Citizen offer watches which are less expensive and similarly targetted.

The Citizen Promaster Fugu (priced between S$450 to S$600) and the
Seiko PADI Automatic Diver SRPA21 (S$667) are the Japanese competition. Water resistance offered by both Japanese brands are rated to only 200m, and certainly the build quality is no where as refined as being offered in the Aikon Venturer.

Perhaps closer to the build quality and target market is the Luminox Scott Cassell Deep Dive Automatic (S$2,800). The Luminox is rated to a far deeper 500m. The construction of the case seems to be of a finer finishing and in line with the Aikon Venturer.

Also the Oris Great Barrier Reef II (S$3,000) is perhaps another. Also rated to 500m but with a larger case at 46mm and very thick. The Oris does wear its size. The feel of the Oris is very substantial.

Tudor Black Bay Black or Blue (S$4248 in leather strap and S$4680 in steel bracelet.) is a pricier alternative. The Black Bay is only rated to 200m water resistance, though marketed as a dive watch. The current crop of Black Bay also sport in-house manufactured movements. Although the older ETA based Black Bays continue to be highly sought after.

Although competing in a totally different price class and image arena, many pundits like to make the comparison to the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. But any discussion to compare the two will end up degrading to arguments among polarized groups. So, we will not attempt to go near there, other than to point out the obvious visual resemblances.

Concluding thoughts

The Aikon Venturer improves on the Aikon Automatic with an increased depth rating of 100m to 300m, making it even more suitable for a watch for taking on adventures, and a spot of swimming or diving. This makes it a great tool watch. Especially when combined to its handsome good looks, make the Venturer a good watch for daily wear.

On the wrist, both versions wear nice. As mentioned, the pliable bracelet conforms easily to the wrist and is comfortable. The strap version is also soft and flexible, and we did not have any comfort issues wearing it for regular daily activities or more adventurous ones. The watch was worn over an few hours hiking and participating in sea activities, and was comfortable, easily legible even in the dark and performs well.

Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer Specifications

CASE: 43 mm, in steel, with unidirectional rotating ceramic bezel. Engraved case back.
DIAL: sunray-brushed, blue or black
BRACELET/STRAP: 5-row steel bracelet or rubber strap (blue or black). EasyChange system
MOVEMENT: ML115 Automatic (ML modified and decorated Selitta SW200)

Maurice Lacroix Aikon Venturer official site.


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