Speake-Marin marches on with their in-house development with the new moon phase module placed on top of the SMA03. We examined the Speake-Marin One & Two Academic Full Moon in detail in this hands-on review.
Astute readers might recognize the last phrase in the title is in reference to the song “Into the West”, which was conceived as a bittersweet Elvish lament for those who have sailed across the Sundering Sea. This is perhaps echoes the tinge of melancholy that I felt as the brand’s founder Peter Speake-Marin left the maison in early 2017. The brand struggled a bit after, but at this 2019 SIHH, they seem to have found their feet again. The One & Two Academic series seem quite capable of propelling the Speake-Marin name back into the limelight.
Speake-Marin One & Two Academic Full Moon
Whatever they are do, the first thing we think Speake-Marin should fix is the impossibly complicated and long model names. Though we agree that the last part is somewhat descriptive, the first two are not. The moniker One & Two and Academic just obsfucate things. It is still unclear to me what these codified notations in the name means. Neither the One & Two, nor the Academic is useful in communicating their nature, and no more cryptic like any other model name, or number.
But enough of that. Let’s focus on the watch. And we find that the watch is quite an aesthetically pleasant piece. Though, at first glance it seems wrong. The traditional elements are somewhat unusual – the thick case, large monotone dial with a rather huge pale moon revealed in a cut-out on the dial. But examining the watch and taken as a whole, the design elements work together to form a very pleasant, and indeed quite beautiful aesthetic.
The case, dial and hands
The case is a revision of the now iconic Speake-Marin Picadilly case. Subtly different from the original, retaining almost all the DNA, but perhaps with a more avant garde feel. The review sample is in red gold, and is a beautiful hue which is harmonious with the white silver dial which seem to take on an ecru like hue. Details like the juxtaposition of contrasting finishing along the case picks up as interest elements for the eye. The curvaceous shapes and lines make up for elegance in the large, thick case.
The dial is a silvery white, but as mentioned, it appears to the eye as a pale, ecru/eggshell hue, with hour markers only at 12, 3, 6 and 9. These markers are deeply engraved in Roman numerals with no contrasting colour as an in-fill. As a result the entire dial looks monochrome, but by no means flat. The pale complexion is lifted by the subtle, yet eye catching detailing.
The subsidiary seconds hand is unusually located at 1:30, sitting half way between the counter sunk central medallion and the raised dial peripheral. This is visually counter balanced by a cut-out bearing the moon phase display on the central medallion at 7:30. As mentioned, the central medallion is at a different level and is smoothly polished, while the raised chapter ring at the periphery is rather wide and matte finished. The minute markers are indicated at the periphery by thin printed bars which are punctuated by red numerals every 5 minutes.
The moon disk is made up of two moons: one white and one orange. It creates an alternation of silvery white and orange moons – an interesting artistic interpretation. An orange moon can appear in reality if the moon is near the horizon, and is affected by earth’s atmosphere, due to light scattering. The fine particles in the atmosphere will therefore give this red-orange colour to the moon, when it is close to Earth.
Speake-Marin heart hands are used for the minutes and hours, while the subsidiary seconds hand is a needle with a circle counterweight. All hands are in white gold, contributing further to the monochrome effect of the dial. A large crown adorns the case side, and presents a good purchase for easy winding and time setting.
Aesthetics on the dial side is excellent. and the watch appears very elegant and understated, despite the thick case.
The movement is based on the in-house developed and manufactured SMA03. This strategy to fully develop and assemble the movement within the Speake-Marin atelier in Neuchatel began circa 2015. These series of proprietary movements are designated “SMA”.
The first watches includes openworked, closed dials and haute horlogerie movements and were 3 Hz movements and were used in the Minute Repeater and Double Tourbillon. And a second development effort was for a movement beating at 4 Hz, and the SMA01 was born. This led to the SMA03 which was released in SIHH 2018, and forms the base movement for the Full Moon.
The SMA03 is peculiar due to the small seconds counter being positioned at 1:30 and its integrated micro-rotor. The small seconds at 1:30 is a nod to the maison’s intent to break-away with the watchmaking codes: Speake-Marin is the only watchmaker who positions the small seconds there. We understand this presents a real constraint in terms of movement development.
The addition of a moonphase module completes this new movement. The moonphase display is updated once a day at 7:30pm, perhaps another poetic nod at the position of the aperture on the dial to show the display which is also placed at the 7:30 position.
The movement is finished quite nicely, with the requisite Côtes de Genève. The movement bridges are large, and feature a few sharp outward angles, but no inward angles. The balance cock, which is shaped in such a way that it could take advantage to be created with a sharp inward angle is not adorned as such, and the elbow like shape has an internal radius which is smooth. The edges of the bridges are finished with anglage. The standout feature from the case back is the beautifully machined rotor in the shape of the Speake-Marin logo.
The competitive landscape
A wrist watch with a large moonphase display with an automatic micro-rotor movement stands in a rather sparse landscape. And the Speake-Marin is offered in two sizes – 38mm and 42mm, in two metals – titanium and red gold in a limited edition of 20 pieces each makes it more compelling. The pricing is S$21,600 in Ti and S$32,000 in gold.
Arnold & Son HM Perpetual Moon S$39,900 in gold is perhaps one competitor. The moonphase display is huge, even larger than the one on the Speake-Marin.
The aesthetics are different, of course. The Arnold is more traditional in the sense that it uses contrasting colours to create the dial aesthetic. And the movement is handwound, featuring the A&S1512 calibre, no doubt a manufactured movement by Arnold & Son’s sister company La Joux-Perret.
Another might perhaps be the A. Lange & Söhne Grand Lange 1 Moon Phase, €38,900 in a pink gold case.
The Lange features the now iconic Lange 1 architecture with the assymetrical dial layout. And a huge cut-out behind the main sub-dial with the hour minute indicators display the moon phase. Also handwound, with the L095.3 movement. As usual Lange’s movements are hard to fault, and is magnificently finished.
On the wrist, the 42mm shown in the photograph below wears very nicely on my wrist. The lugs, though straight do curve inwards, affording some measure of being able to hug the wrist, and allowing the watch case to sit nicely.
We think if the Speake-Marin One & Two Academic Full Moon is representative of the new Speake-Marin, sans Peter, then the future is indeed very bright. The product speaks for itself, and here it is very loud in claiming a place in high horology. Now if only they would improve the model nomenclature.
Speake-Marin One & Two Academic Full Moon Specifications
SMA03 Calibre, self-winding movement with micro-rotor
Moon phase module
Hour Minutes and Seconds. Small seconds at 1:30
Central Moon phase indication at 7:30
Two levels white silver dial: polished finish in the middle and mat finish in the background. Heart-shaped golden hands.
New generation Piccadilly case in red gold
Front sapphire crystal treated with anti-reflective coating.
38 or 42 mm
3 bar (30 metres)
STRAP & BUCKLE
Ostrich / or calf leather in mink/or brown – Pin buckle in red gold
20 watches of each diameter
38mm: 423810000 | 42mm: 424210000