In haughty horological circles, the term complication implies the pursuit of extra engineering through elaborate date, alarm, or display features beyond the basic purpose of telling time. In lieu of outrageous mechanical complexity, I’d argue that the Maurice Lacroix Aikon Master Grand Date offers a different take on the word, a sort of alternate version of the textbook term. For the sake of our purposes here, let’s call it cosmetic complication.

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Though the Grand Date does indeed go beyond standard time-telling parameters with its 4 o’clock small second display at 10 o’clock big date windows, this isn’t quite the stuff of haute horology. Rather, we’re looking at a visual riddle of sorts, a deconstructed interpretation of a conventional timepiece that focuses more on contrasting finishes, peekaboo windows, and novel layouts than classical proportions and just-so details. This approach stands in stark contrast to my last hands-on review, which made a less-is-more argument with seductive whispers in the ear, not mechanical spectacle. If anything, this time around we’ve got a language that needs a decoder ring to interpret, a sort of foreign tongue that’s appreciated by a certain slice of the population rather than a one-size-fits all appeal.

That said, perusing ahead of my loan undersold me for the in-person unboxing of this steel-strapped heavyweight. The face displayed of this 45mm stainless case is all about concentric circles, particularly the dial-within-a-dial that occupies the upper right corner. The subscale Maurice Lacroix branding and ‘Automatic’ are borderline clever/kinda cute considering the deliberate lengths taken to occupy such relatively little area of dial. The word I blurted after pulling the piece out of its box was impactful, the unplanned impression coming from the contrast of its blue PVD grainé dial plate and the vertically brushed aluminum surfaces. More intriguing is view through its display caseback, revealing the automatic in-house ML331 movement that boasts a rhodium balance bridge and a skeleton oscillating weight.

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The surface layers interplay with the moving bits beneath in a punchy, dynamic way. Depending on your disposition the approach is either ambitious, or a tad too busy—perfectly subjective opinions, both of which depend vastly on your personal tastes. As for me, this watch’s expectation versus reality were different, but I wasn’t entirely sold on the treatment. Call me a minimalist, but I found the face has quite a lot going on—maybe too much. Despite my appreciation for the comfort and fit against my wrist, as well as the contrast between sharply faceted shapes and the interplay between the rhodium details and bits like the embossed, sun-brushed dial finished in dark blue, I just wasn’t sure this was a watch for me.

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To fully vet the Grand Date, I brought it along for the weeklong madness that is Monterey Car Week. The central Californian festivities cover all dusty corners of the enthusiast microcosm, from a German car gathering (Legends of the Autobahn), a celebration of hoopties (Concours d’Lemons), a garden party-style shindig (The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering), and a vintage racing fracas (Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion) to the grandaddy of them all, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. In contrast to these motoring events, my borrowed Maurice Lacroix seemed more specific than ever, a bit of a genre within a genre looking for a home. I’ll admit to bringing a watch roll’s worth of alternatives, some of which seemed ideally suited to particular events.

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Looking back, the offerings on display at the Concours on Pebble Beach’s 18th hole were a bit too pristine for this extroverted piece. The exuberance of the Quail’s more eclectic vehicles was closer, but still not right. And the Lemons concours and sundry related more accessible events were simply too lowbrow for this aspirationally fancy timepiece. At least in retrospect, the most fitting event for the Grand Date turned out to be Motorlux, formerly known as McCall’s Jet Center. This now-Hagerty-owned event at the Monterey Airport limits the well-heeled guests to 3,000, and allows them to gawk at everything from valuable classics and high-dollar custom hot rods to private planes and posh helicopters. Under the glow of the Monterey moon, this was about as close as I got to the ideal venue for the uniquely styled watch.

Slipping into various press vehicles revealed similar conundrums. The $231,000 Mercedes-Maybach S580? A bit too traditional for Maurice Lacroix’s unconventional design. The $189,690 Audi R8 V10 performance Spyder? Too stark for the Grand Date’s look-at-me mechanical parts. Not that it didn’t work better in certain circumstances (particularly at night, for some reason), but I found the Aikon Master Grand Date to be more of a specific piece rather than a watch for all seasons, like a Rolex Submariner or an Omega Speedmaster Professional.

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Well-executed, nicely finished, and imaginatively detailed, Maurice Lacroix’s Aikon Master Grand Date appeals to those seeking to make a statement on their wrists, especially when taking a closer look at its finishes, details, and intersections of texture and color. While it wasn’t a perfect match to my admittedly fussy taste, maybe that’s the point of this sort of wristwatch—one’s pleasure is another’s pain, etcetera. Regardless of my personal aesthetic, there’s a lot going for the Grand Date, from its beautifully finished moving parts to its fine disregard for tradition. Try one on, hold it up to the twilight, and see for yourself if this one’s for you—its aesthetic complication may just strike a chord.