Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Retrograde: Great Looks And Excellent Value
by Martin Green
Nothing is more pleasing than a good comeback! And one brand making a big comeback is Maurice Lacroix.
Maurice Lacroix was a force to reckon with in the 1990s; it even had tennis legend Roger Federer as a brand ambassador for a year, lured away from Rolex between contracts.
Unfortunately, the early 2000s were not so kind to the brand. There was even a short period when it looked like the brand might disappear altogether.
The company’s fortunes changed for the better in 2014 when Stéphane Waser took over as managing director. He has led Maurice Lacroix back to its sweet spot of a balanced collection priced mainly between €1,000 and €5,000.
Maurice Lacroix was traditionally very strong in that segment of the market, and Waser realized that’s the price range to focus on again. But the competition in this price range is not just fierce, it is gruesome. Finding success again wasn’t a given.
The Maurice Lacroix sweet spot
As a teenager in the 1990s I remember Maurice Lacroix having a prominent place in the showcases of jewelry stores in major cities. It was also present in Armbanduhren-Katalog, an annual publication containing details on most luxury brands, which I devoured in those days and occasionally still go back to (what I didn’t know then was that our esteemed editor-in-chief was also an integral part of this publication).
The Maurice Lacroix designs back then, and returning now, were distinctive yet not overly extroverted. The watches felt like you were wearing something special but didn’t dominate your outfit.
The brand has always been very good at finding that fine line between being progressive and conservative and sticking to it. A nice side effect is that the Maurice Lacroix watches age very nicely.
The craftsmanship has always been solid, and with movements supplied by ETA in the 1990s, and now mainly Sellita, dependability is excellent.
Maurice Lacroix also ensured that its collection contained a few so-called “halo” watches, which were more complicated and offered at a higher price point than the rest of the line.
The brand still offers such interesting complications, mainly in its Masterpiece collection, which are priced more competitively than than those of the competition.
Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Retrograde
In the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece collection we find the recently revamped Masterpiece Triple Retrograde. As the name indicates, this watch offers three retrograde displays on the dial, respectively indicating the day, date, and a second time zone.
The “Masterpiece” moniker might sound a bit presumptuous, but Maurice Lacroix worked hard to earn it. Even in watches twice the price it’s usually not difficult to see where brands have cut corners, but that’s not so with the Masterpiece Triple Retrograde.
The elaborate case is a thing of beauty: its concave, polished bezel sits atop a case turned slightly inward. The case back is a larger diameter than the case band, creating a subtle “hamburger” effect when viewed from the side.
The case really stands out for its finish, which I consider elaborate at this price. Polished and satin-finished surfaces alternate, while relatively short lugs ensure that the 43 mm case can be comfortably worn even by those with smaller wrists.
Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Retrograde: that glorious dial
Whoever designed the Masterpiece Triple Retrograde deserves a raise: the case is great, but the dial is nothing short of sensational. Its many layers and finishes captivate at every look.
The pink gold-plated hands and numerals add to its allure, augmenting the feeling that this watch will never bore you – and might even earn a compliment or two.
The retrograde functions help. While the date in particular is somewhat challenging to read at times, it is well compensated by the added character that these handy complications lend the watch – especially the second time zone function at 12 o’clock.
It is worth noting is that the second time zone display doesn’t move gradually but rather once at the top of the hour, jumping forward in increments of one complete hour.
A retrograde hand is quite a volatile complication as tension builds up underneath the dial that is released instantaneously. To manage that power, the three retrograde displays of the Masterpiece Triple Retrograde move one at a time, never resetting all at once, to minimize mechanical stress and wear.
Additionally, only the second time zone makes a full round trip every day. The other two respectively take seven days and a whole month to complete their arcs, which dramatically increases the movement’s reliability.
Talking about reliability, the water-resistance of the Masterpiece Triple Retrograde is 10 ATM/100 meters. This is a testimony to how well the watch is made as it not only has a transparent case back for admiring the complicated movement but also correctors recessed in the side of the case.
Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Retrograde: movement
Maurice Lacroix is refreshingly forthcoming about the origins of the movement, which is a modified Sellita SW200 with a proprietary module constructed by Maurice Lacroix.
This is a solid strategy in my book as it unites dependability and exclusivity at a much lower price than an entirely in-house designed and constructed movement would.
It isn’t a “manufacture movement” – Maurice Lacroix describes it as a “manufacture module” – which is sensible as the Masterpiece Triple Retrograde does not need fancy claims.
Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Retrograde: strap and buckle
The strap’s folding clasp is worth highlighting. It is not an off-the-rack example, Maurice Lacroix having developed it, and it features different finishes and the brand’s logo in several places, including a sculpted logo on the clasp.
That not only makes the clasp look good and gives you a sense of quality, its wearing comfort is also outstanding – to the point that other brands should be taking note.
The strap itself is a matter of taste. I never was a fan of Maurice Lacroix’s applied logo on the strap, nor do I find the calfskin with embossed alligator pattern to my personal liking.
I do know that most of Maurice Lacroix’s clients appreciate the applied logo on the strap – our editor-in-chief among them – even insisting on replacing that element when the strap is changed. Opting for real alligator leather would elevate the price of the Masterpiece Triple Retrograde by around €200, and the competition in this price range is too fierce for that.
While the Masterpiece Triple Retrograde is not cheap, it is excellent value. I’m a bit of a watch snob but I would wear this watch with pride, not even shying away from wearing it at a high-profile watch fair. The only change I would make is exchanging the strap for genuine alligator because I am also a strap snob.
And the Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Retrograde deserves the best.
For more information, please visit www.mauricelacroix.com/us_en/watches/watches-masterpiece/masterpiece-triple-rtrograde.
Quick Facts Maurice Lacroix Masterpiece Triple Retrograde
Case: 43 x 14 mm, stainless steel, 10 atm/100 m water resistance
Movement: automatic Caliber ML291, based on Sellita SW200 and modified by Maurice Lacroix with in-house module; 4 Hz/ 28,800 vph frequency, 38-hour power reserve
Dial: anthracite-colored with snailed and côtes de Genève finishes and silver powder printing; or silver-colored with clous de Paris stamping, sandblasting, and black printing
Functions: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds; retrograde date; retrograde day; retrograde second time zone
Strap: calf leather with alligator embossing, folding clasp in stainless steel
Price: $5,500 / €5,500