The London Chronograph was released to recognize Peter Speake-Marin’s early watchmaking background. After qualifying as a horologist at London’s Hackney college, Peter headed to Switzerland to deepen his knowledge of watch making at the Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program (WOSTEP) in Neuchâtel. Thereafter, Peter Speake-Marin took his first steps as a watchmaker when he restored antique watches in the Piccadilly arcade in London.
Prior to that, his first three commercial watchmaking positions were short-lived until he met Georges Somlo back in 1990 and started restoring antique pocket and wrist watches for six years. The London Chronograph bears many unique characteristics that makes it special from the rest and the one that stands out would be the use of a Valjoux 92 movement that was made during the 1950’s and 60’s, commonly seen in most of the antique watches Peter Speake-Marin restored during his watchmaking days in the Piccadilly arcade. We covered Peter Speake-Marin’s journey as a watchmaker in one of our earlier articles that can be found here.
To cater for the needs of this collection, the movements used for the London Chronograph were purchased from a collector of vintage movements. Peter specially selected the Valjoux 92 movement as a way to reminisce his time in London during the 1990’s.
Case, Dial and Hands
The London Chronograph comes in a 42 mm Piccadilly titanium case and features a three dimensional white dial, a unique feature that stands out. The dial bears some form of similarity to the Gothic Velsheda limited edition where the Arabic numbers alternate with the Roman numerals to give the timepiece a vintage feel to it.
The 12 marker is in red as it has classical connotations where early watches made in England mostly has the entire dial markers in black except for the 12. The chronograph hands bear the same colour as the 30 minute recorder hand that is positioned at 3 o’clock which we think complements very well together. However, the key feature of this timepiece would be the two subsidiary dials for the 30 minute recorder and the seconds dial that gives the watch a three-dimensional feel to it. We are impressed with the “floating” dials of the timepiece and the 3D element to it which has not been seen before in the market.
The only aspect of the dial which we feel can be improved would be the dial markers. Having an enamel dial would most certainly give the watch a more elegant look to it and complement neatly with the 3D element of the watch. We believe that there may be many reasons why the dial was not made using enamel and one of which is the cost of it, potentially increasing the price point and making the timepiece less attractive.
The London Chronograph is powered by the Valjoux 92 movement that operates at a frequency of 18,000 bph and has a power reserve of 40 hours. In its time, the movement was different from others as it featured a swivel pinion as a clutch, this feature was developed by Edouard Heuer back in 1887 and this is the same clutch system being used by Tag Heuer in the new Cal. 1887 movement.
The Valjoux 92 is a very reliable chronograph movement and is certainly well picked given the purpose of this watch release. However, the movement featured in the London Chronograph is the original movement without any extra finishing or reworks which we think is a pity.
The London Chronograph was designed to reflect Peter’s watchmaking days in London as a young watchmaker and we can certainly understand that keeping it original would give the watch the original flavor of the old days. It would have been nice if the movement had some form of identity to it; giving it a Speake-Marin touch in the form of a refinish or rework, this would further justify its release as a special edition timepiece.
The London Chronograph is a pretty unique watch given the three dimensional dial it features along with other historic elements it presents in the form of dial markers or the choice of the movement to represent Peter’s early watchmaking days. However, we feel that more can be done to give the watch its own identity, use of an enamel dial or refinishing the Valjoux 92 to make it uniquely Speake-Marin.
Priced at CHF 16,000 before tax, this timepiece is definitely worth a look especially the floating dials it has that differentiates it from many other watches. If you are a big fan of Speake-Marin, this timepiece would certainly excite you with its unique elements and of course, an original Valjoux 92 movement from the 1950’s or 60’s.