Maurice Lacroix’s Aikon collection was inspired by the company’s 1990s era Calypso timepieces that went out of production in the early 2000s.
Compared to the initial quartz-powered Aikon models that began hitting the market in 2016, and which have been selling well for the Saignelégier-based manufacture, the all-new Aikon Automatic is much more refined.
And yes, it does look even more similar to the higher-end Royal Oak than the quartz versions, but before you write this off as a mere knockoff, which I bring up because I’ve already seen numerous discussions that overwhelming do so, I suggest you first consider all the details.
Was the Calypso a Royal Oak knockoff in the 1990s?
Perhaps. But in all fairness, if so, then it begs the same question for the Patek Philippe Nautilus, IWC Ingenieur, Girard-Perregaux Laureato, and Vacheron Constantin Overseas, which all pre-date the Calypso, but not the Royal Oak.
Zenith also recently introduced its modern second-generation Defy, which has an angular metal case that you could also say looks similar.
The Royal Oak is a personal grail of mine and this article means to take no respect away from the stainless steel clad icon, which was created by one of the greatest watch designers of all-time: Gerald Genta. And even if the Aikon does mimic a legend, isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery?
All that said, at the end of the day, the Aikon is approximately 20 times less expensive. Not to mention, you can buy an Aikon Automatic timepiece for less than the price of a single manufacturer overhaul service of a mechanical Royal Oak.
One reason you’re getting an excellent watch for the money is that Maurice Lacroix owns the case making factory which makes cases for other companies as well as their own, allowing them to not only produce the case and integrated bracelet in-house – at considerable savings – but also to greatly control the quality.
The all-stainless steel case and bracelet have a sophisticated look that the brand’s official images don’t convey well. You really have to see it in person to understand just how well it’s been designed, machined, and finished. Generous amounts of satin-brushing mixed with subtle polished elements, such as on the tabs and sides of the fixed bezel, give the Aikon that sparkle without being ostentatious.
On the wrist the watch feels excellent, a nearly perfect size for my 7-7.5″ inch wrist. The diameter is 41 mm and just 10.25 mm thick (the manufacturer website states dimensions as 42 mm x 11 mm). The lug-to-lug measurement is 47 mm which is quite good and the curvature where the case and metal bracelet connect contours to my wrist almost perfectly. Total weight is 173.9 grams which as with any metal bracelet watch is noticeable but I never felt that it was heavy or cumbersome.
Not to mention, you can buy an Aikon Automatic timepiece for less than the price of a single manufacturer overhaul service of a mechanical Royal Oak.
Visually, I found this watch to work equally well with short or long sleeves, something a true dress watch or a true sports watch often cannot do. It’s definitely a dual threat.
Everything is machine made, no hand finishing on the case or bracelet, as you would see on a Royal Oak, but that’s to be expected at this price point.
The crown appears to have poked my wrist a bit, as you can see some a temporary visual mark on my hand in some of the photos, but in reality, I never actually felt it doing so. It’s 7 mm in diameter and does not protrude far out at all. Further, I really like the lack of crown guards, which give a nod to the past, and that the crown is of the locking variety is great as I frankly prefer locking the easiest point of entry for water into the case. Water-resistance is 200 meters.
A signed butterfly clasp seamlessly connects the bracelet on the underside of your wrist, a design I’ve never preferred, but it’s basically par for the course with this type of bracelet. Definitely, something that is not typical, although it’s becoming more so these days, is Maurice Lacroix’s proprietary “Easy Change” system which allows you to squeeze the two knobs underneath the watch, where the bracelet and case connect and remove the bracelet, or optional strap, with no tool. As with any adjustments, you still need to be careful and can scratch it if not done with the proper finesse.
Sitting just above the bezel is a flat sapphire crystal which shows some anti-reflective treatment at certain angles. The screwed case back is sapphire as well.
A black sun-brushed Clous de Paris dial punctuated by thin polished faceted rhodium-plated indices and hands creates a really attractive aesthetic. But don’t confuse this for a Royal Oak dial, they are really not that close. For instance, the outer ring and the center portion of the dial are two different pieces, whereas on the aforementioned model it’s all one piece.
The handset is all baton-shaped as are the applied indices, with double stick indices at 12, 3, 6, and 9. At three o’clock the indices are half-way obstructed by the date window, something, as a minimalist I wish they just excluded altogether.
Nighttime viewing, despite only small amounts of white lume being applied to the indices and hour and minute hands, is quite good. Overall legibility, thanks to long hands and indices and a very clean layout, is excellent.
Driving the hours, minutes, central seconds, and date is a fairly basic automatic movement with a not that impressive 38-hour power reserve.
Finishing on what Maurice Lacroix calls, caliber ML115 is elaborate grade with perlage, Geneve stripes, and 26 jewels. The movement is manufactured by Sellita so nothing exclusive or exotic, despite Maurice Lacroix having capabilities to produce movements in-house for some of their watches.
This watch is presumably a big seller and could really elevate the company sales, making an in-house caliber a worthwhile consideration down the road. I really think the company branding needs to be elevated as well in order to make it something consumers might pay another thousand dollars for.
That said, the outsourced movement works perfectly fine, albeit for less than two days autonomously but it’s self-winding so if you wear it, in theory, the abbreviated reserve won’t matter that much.
I love the Aikon Automatic’s wrist presence and it looks stunning in either the black or blue dial. Not sure which one I prefer. Avoid the white dial, though, for sure.
The toolless strap changing system is a nice touch that will be beneficial in keeping the watch scratch-free as there is no need to bring a metal tool anywhere near the case or bracelet. And while the leather strap is not something I really consider desirable for this type of watch, if you do you’ll be able to swap between the steel bracelet and the leather strap with ease.
If you’re trying to dress to impress, forget about the brand name and check the Aikon out, you won’t find a better watch of this style for less. I would buy one in a heartbeat, and might actually do that.
Retail is $1,990. (Ref. AI6008-SS002-330-1)