Zurich based brand Maurice de Mauriac has added a new watch to their Chrono Modern collection inspired by their participation in the grueling North Cape Expedition. The 11 day expedition took a team to the northernmost point on the European continent, the tip of Norway, across the 71st parallel and into the Arctic circle. The task was undertaken by the Alpineracer team in a BMW E30 (with a Genesis GV70 coming along as a support vehicle), and Maurice de Mauriac created a special version of their toughest chronograph to mark the occasion.
If you’re from a part of the world where there is significant snowfall in the winter, and you happen to also sometimes need to drive a car in those conditions, you know that even a few minutes on icey, snow covered roads in freezing weather can be anything from a nuisance to absolutely terrifying. It’s certainly not something I look forward to, and generally try to avoid when I have the opportunity to do so. Now imagine driving into increasingly more difficult and dangerous conditions for over a week. According to Maurice de Mauriac, the Alpineracer team experienced the requisite challenges with weather (hail, snow, and freezing rain, to start) and a handful of mechanical issues with the car, but ultimately they made it, and the photos that came out of the trip that you can see here are truly breathtaking. For participants (in both body and spirit) a watch connected to the journey feels like a fitting memento.
The Chrono Modern North Cape Edition has a brushed stainless steel case measuring 42mm in diameter, 50mm lug to lug, and 10.7mm tall. It runs on an ETA 7750 movement and has the familiar three register display with a date and day complication at 3:00 that brings back sense memories for many chronograph collectors. You can almost feel the rotor wobble from here. The dial is a dark blue with a bright orange chronograph seconds hand for contrast, and big white numerals marking the minutes at the fives for easy time telling at a glance.
The distinguishing feature of the Chrono Modern is a dramatically knurled bezel, which the brand says is meant to enhance the ruggedness of the piece. It’s hard to argue with that. It gives the watch a burly and somewhat aggressive look. Try to imagine this watch with, for example, a polished steel bezel, and you begin to understand how the case’s character can be changed with a detail like this. It certainly wouldn’t feel as ready for the Arctic circle with more polished bits.
This is a niche watch for a niche crowd, meaning it’s certainly not for everyone. An argument could be made that there are endless variations on this kind of chronograph from brands of all kinds, and while that is certainly literally true, it’s also the case that the folks at Maurice de Mauriac have at least made an attempt to infuse the watch with some authentic personality. With that big knurled bezel and bright orange seconds hand, the North Cape Edition is just slightly weirder than many of the other watches that are in the same ballpark, but it’s also a little weird to drive a BMW to the tip of Europe for a photo op, so it kind of makes sense.
The retail price for Maurice de Mauriac’s Chrono Modern North Cape Edition is CHF 4,400. Maurice de Mauriac