HANDS-ON: The Maurice Lacroix Pontos Chronograph Monopusher is like a sandwich with every filling possible, and I’m hungryThor Svaboe
I am utterly perplexed by the Maurice Lacroix Pontos Chronograph Monopusher. This is a watch, released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Pontos range, that encompasses some of my favourite features across the ages of horology, amalgamated into one. Stealthy black, chunky yet not too large, both contemporary and vintage, with a chronograph dégradé dial. Oh, and why not throw in an in-house chronograph movement and a monopusher for the hell of it. Ordering one sandwich with all your sweet and savoury favourites would end in disaster, yet the Pontos seems to pull it off. I’m hungry for it.
With a well-shaped and compact 41mm case, the dark wrist presence is one of exclusivity. This limited edition Pontos Chronograph has imaginative detailing and a design language that somehow manages to be harmonious, with a timeless quality and a feeling of stealth. Hats off to the design department at Maurice Lacroix for pulling off this feat, which starts with a luxurious dégradé face peppered with details.
If the year was 1942, and this was inside a 36mm gold case with a silver dial, we would be looking at a classic monopoussoir, whereas this black PVD version would be sketched up in a cord-bound sci-fi magazine as a dark Vision of the Future with a face from history. The dial is classic dégradé grey in the centre, flipping into a more golden tone depending on the light, and progressively darkening towards the rehaut. This colour treatment is something we know and love, mainly from time-only pieces, yet here all the classic chronograph features have been asked to join the party. But through well-executed design, this makes for a legible and interesting dial.
Two large registers for running seconds and the 30-minute counter are snailed and recessed into the face at 3 and 9 o’clock, crisp white tracks circling the edge and long baton pointers doing a well-proportioned job. They are both classically intersected by a fresh touch of colour in a blue tachymeter track and a red telemeter track. In the 1940s they might also have predicted that in 2020 we would be quite useless in deciphering their function, but they are spot-on for this celebration of the chronograph.
Polished contemporary semi skeletonised sword hands with white Super-LumiNova bring a welcome touch of polished rhodium to the scene, along with the large Arabic numerals and the M logo at 12. The delicately framed date window at 6 is just the right classic clue, and clever touches of red lacquer mark every 10 minutes on the minute track, which has sporty ¼ second markings. An angled 5-minute marked black rehaut frames the detailed dial nicely.
The case and strap
A tough-looking black stealth finish in brushed and polished PVD sets the tone, yet the 41mm case has got classic touches of stepped lugs and a rounded side and bezel. Now, 41mm is on the large side for the vintage layout of the dial, but not the general tough, contemporary feel of this limited edition, which, with the shaped short lugs, sits more like a 40mm watch on the wrist, and the multi-layered visuals of the dégradé dial creates a tight and compact visual impact which signals strength of purpose. The chronograph function is operated by the large mushroom-shaped monopusher at 2, quick of action and zeroes swiftly and exact. The main crown has a traditional swirled striation, and underlines the tool watch aesthetic with its balanced, large size.
It’s not a slim watch at 14mm, but well thought out ergonomics make it an easy, yet visually strong, presence on the wrist. The strap is quite stiff calfskin, with a crocodile pattern that should become very comfortable over time, on a delicately actuating folding clasp in brushed black.
The sapphire caseback gives you insight into the in-house Sellita-based ML 160 movement, which has Côtes de Genève and perlage decoration, with a decent 58-hour power reserve, especially good if you put the chronograph to good use, which — with the monopusher action — is both quick and satisfying.
The favourite detail
Except for the fact that this is one of the very few classically styled chronographs with a dégradé dial, my favourite detail is the playful touch of red and blue markings on the chrono seconds hand, echoing the telemeter and tachymeter scales on the dial. Like the rest of the watch, an imaginative and fresh detail that stays with you.
Maurice Lacroix Pontos Monopusher Chronograph price and availability:
The Maurice Lacroix Pontos Monopusher Chronograph is 3690 CHF, limited to 500 pieces.