Although Switzerland is not the birthplace of watchmaking, it still has a worldwide reputation of being the location for a top-quality watch industry. This is not without reason.
While clockmaking received a head start in Italy, Germany, France and Britain, the Swiss watch industry became widely diversified with approximately 650 makers and a workforce of 40,000, continuously expanding and refining its know-how with a claim to perfection.
Other pillars of the typically Swiss success include technological innovation, precision, and export-oriented marketing. The result speaks for itself: 95 per cent of the production is sold abroad.
Despite the worldwide economic crisis, high-quality watches made in Switzerland remain in demand.
About 90 per cent of the watches produced here are electronic, while merely ten per cent are of the mechanical type. Yet, those ten per cent account for more than half of the export-based profits. It is that small portion of the total watch production that manages to continue fascinating and captivating us. Mechanical watches are complex and – according to the Swiss ideal – highly precise.
The principles of the classic mechanical chronograph date back to no later than 1862. However, the state of technical perfection will probably never be reached. Improvements and contemporary modifications are almost always possible. The various Swiss makers, thus, have gradually strengthened their respective skills.
Hence, Maurice Lacroix, one of the very few independent Swiss watchmakers, has devoted itself to the craft of watchmaking. The company develops and produces its very own products, including novel movements as well as add-on functions and mechanisms. Its main focus lies on creative aesthetics as well as passion for detail, perfection, and quality.
The unique products of this brand are characterized particularly by their retroactive display. One example of this maker’s specialties are moon phase displays. However, the love of what is technically possible is exemplified by two products.
The Masterpiece collection has had an exemplary success. The chronograph movement ML 106, for instance, the high-quality heart of the masterpiece Le Chronographe, is regarded as the ultimate in exclusivity. With its considerable 36.6-millimetre diameter, this watch mechanism is also unique in terms of the technical implementation.
The watch functions are controlled by a traditional column wheel. But the chronograph mechanism is a novelty. The innovation: A release lever assures the precision of the sensitive start and reset phases of the chronometer. The atypical and expensive 60-minute meter instead of the usual 30- or 45-minute counter is also exceptional. Since inside and outside must harmonize, whether classic or traditional, the watch designs perfectly match the Masterpiece editions.
The second example of the epitome of perfection in Swiss watch-making craft is the Mémoire 1, the first mechanism with a memory – production limited to 20 units.
Its launch was a coup that received worldwide attention. The official presentation of the watch took place at the 2008 Baselworld watch fair.
Maurice Lacroix had made possible the seemingly impossible.
The idea: a stopwatch with only three hands, perfectly fusing technology and aesthetics.
A short explanation of the 604-component mechanism: Actuating the pusher in the centre of the winder sets off the Grand Complication.
The small hand at three o’clock switches from the “Time” mode to the “Chrono” mode. The minute and second hands as well as the hour disc instantly change positions. Their functions shift from displaying to measuring time. Even while the chronograph is running, you can switch between the two modes with the push of a button as often as you like without either mode losing its information. This technical combination of watch and stopwatch displays makes the Mémoire 1 one of the world’s most complicated watches ever designed.
Since the launch of its first watch models in 1975, Maurice Lacroix has become a sought-after craft brand. With its own movements and the production of complex components for mechanical gauges, Maurice Lacroix joined the exclusive club of Swiss watch crafters at the end of 2006. The company designs, develops and manufactures the clockworks in its own facilities.
Such innovations require a perfect synchronization between the passion for watchmaking, industrial know-how, professional ability, technical knowledge and, last but not least, a highly developed sense of perfection in quality and design. Maurice Lacroix, thus, continuously invests in its production facilities and technical office in Saignelégier, has registered numerous patents and trademarks, and is counted among the most advanced of
Maurice Lacroix is a model company in its branch and, thus, typically Swiss!
Martin Bachmann was born in 1961 and studied at the Swiss Business School in Zurich. Following career stops in the watch industry in Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney, he has been chairman of the board of directors of the Swiss watch manufacturer Maurice Lacroix since 1 November 2008. Previously, he had been a Country Operations/Marketing manager for seven years.