Achieving manufacture d'horlogerie status means the freedom to craft pieces entirely to the satisfaction of the brand and its clients Times are changing for Maurice Lacroix. The Swiss watch brand is repositioning itself as a manufacture d'horlogerie, a status that will allow the company to develop and manufacture its own complex mechanical timepieces. In recent years the brand has been focussing on innovations for additional functions, mechanisms and movements. In October last year Maurice Lacroix launched the ML106 chronograph calibre, the first movement designed and developed entirely in-house. It was three years in development. Since then, the company has been producing components for mechanical calibres at its own workshops. Over the next five years Maurice Lacroix will invest 30 million Swiss francs (HK$192.5 million) in developing its own mechanisms and movements so as to qualify as a fully fledged manufacture d'horlogerie. Denis Martinet, Asia managing director for Desco Luxury Group, which owns Maurice Lacroix, said the brand had a choice of remaining dependent on producers of base movements or developing its own movements. 'One size-fits all' movements from suppliers limited designers to creating aesthetics that fitted around the movement, Mr Martinet said, thus checking the creativity that most watch brands, including Maurice Lacroix, craved. 'On top of that, people want more expensive and complicated pieces, so we must provide these,' he said. Becoming a manufacture d'horlogerie presents several challenges: the first is the industrialisation process, which calls for a team of professionals - from designers and engineers to watchmakers - in an industry already suffering a skills shortage. While it is increasingly difficult to find such skilled people, the company is looking forward to its future as a manufacturer, Mr Martinet said. 'What makes the challenge very interesting is that we will be drawing inspiration from the brand's tradition while exploring new technology, and taking technology from hi-tech industries that may not be applied to this industry today,' he said. As a manufacturer the brand will draw on its long tradition for innovative and contemporary timepieces, but with a higher value base and a smaller annual production output. Once the brand has qualified as a manufacturer, which is expected to take another five years, its production will fall to about 40 to 50 per cent of the company's current production capacity. Maurice Lacroix launched a campaign, based on the slogan 'more than meets the eye', targeted at customers interested in the high art of watchmaking. The campaign will emphasise the brand's attention to detail and craftsmanship. Observing that Maurice Lacroix was finding its niche in the Hong Kong market, Mr Martinet said local watch lovers were taking to the brand 'like ducks to water'. Three of a kind The Pontos series introduces three new extensions. These include the Pontos Decentrique GMT which, following its original titanium version, becomes available in steel. The Decentrique line is identified by an off-centre arrangement of functions: the hour, minute and seconds hands are in a circle shifted towards the 10 o'clock position, and a second time-zone disc sits between 2o'clock and 5o'clock. The disc features a sun and moon that rotate according to it being day or night. The watch contains a Calibre ML121 developed internally by Maurice Lacroix. Two new chronographs have been launched in the Pontos range, one with a rectangular dial and the other with a classic round face.