To some, when it comes to independent watchmakers, Peter Speake-Marin is probably one of the first few names that will come to mind. And yet others will go, “Peter Who?” The Speake-Marin began in earnest only in 2002, and is a relatively new name in the world of horology, but he had garnered a respectable following by carving a niche with unique characteristics speaking to the namesake founder’s cultural and historical inspirations.
Peter Speake-Marin was first introduced to horology in 1985, when he attended the Hackney Technical College in London. Following that, he proceeded for further studies at WOSTEP, where he graduated with the high-end complication course.
His profession as a watchmaker officially began at Somlo Antiques, where he had the opportunity to restore many timepieces from the yesteryears. That was also the time when Peter acquired the inspiration behind his creations, such as the Piccadilly case. Peter then had a stint with Renaud & Papi where he was responsible for developing and manufacturing high-end complications, as well as to mentor young watchmakers.
Peter got his first major break in 2000, with the “Foundation Watch”. The hand-constructed timepiece was a project that was carried out during his spare time, in which it is a tourbillon pocket watch that features a twin power train. That was also the timepiece that helped him to earn his place in the prestigious Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI).
Finally, in 2002, Peter Speake-Marin launched his eponymous watchmaking company. The rest as they say, is history.
Over the years, Peter had produced some rather interesting pieces – varying in terms of complications and construction. Deployant had highlighted some of these exceptional pieces over the years, and for today’s article, we will be selecting six excellent Speake-Marin pieces from our archives. Let’s go!
We begin the article with one which started it all for the Peter Speake-Marin series production watches- the Piccadilly.
The Piccadilly is the first series production wristwatch that was produced by Peter Speake-Marin, with the first piece leaving the workshop in late 2003. The watch is a combination of the various inspirations that Peter had picked up during his earlier days. This includes the Piccadilly case – which Peter drew the inspiration from during his days in Piccadilly – and it has been a mainstay in Speake-Marin ever since. We like how the case is a bit different from the usual round cases, with the straight extended lugs and paired with a diamond shaped crown. It is rather dressy, but with a hint of playfulness that makes it a rather conversational timepiece.
But what really made us fall in love with this piece is its enamel dial. The pure white roman dial is simple, and yet it exudes both elegance and character. It is juxtaposed with blued “Foundation Style” hands, which complements the white dial really nicely. It sort of reminds us of a fine British gentleman, which combines class with a tinge of quirkiness. The result is nothing short of amazing, and it is definitely one of the pieces that had left a great impression on us.
The Velsheda, launched in Baselworld 2014, is an example of a whimsical timepiece from Speake-Marin’s J-Class Collection. Inspired by the aesthetics of a compass, the 42mm timepiece combines simplicity and uniqueness together.
The highlight of the Velsheda is its time display. The watch has only one hand. Simple as it can be. the hand is shaped like a compass, and is beautifully blued. While it is unusual to have a single-hand watch, the overall design of the hand is refreshing. The hour hand is extended on both ends. One side of this long hand carries a diamond shaped arrow which points to the correct time. The minute hand is dispensed with. In the middle lies two superimposed topping tool motif, in which one of them rotates and completes a revolution once every minute, acting like a seconds hand. It is visually arresting, although the concepts behind it were rather elementary.
The Valsheda is powered by a Vaucher self-winding Calibre 3002. It offers collectors something different. While the concept and complications (or the lack thereof) is a simple enough, the end result is rather spectacular. Who says that time-only watches must be boring?
We have seen some of Speake-Marin’s pieces, ranging from the more subtle and elegant pieces, to those that are slightly edgier and playful. But to tip the scale towards the extreme end, we have arguably one of the watchmaker’s most outstanding and iconic pieces. Presenting the Spirit.
The Spirit is a very interesting timepiece aesthetically, to say the least. The focus of the dial is dominated by four massive roman numerals, as well as the circular minute markers that surrounds the indices. On top of that, it is also complemented by the topping tool motif, and a pair of “Foundation Style” hands. Together with the Piccadilly case, the Spirit evokes a sense of mischief and mysteriousness. The effects are even more profound in the dark, when the luminescence of the watch comes alive.
While the Spirit might be a bit too daring and bold for the more conservative collectors, but we reckon that it gives some collectors an interesting alternative to ponder over. It is, after all, still a simple three-hand wristwatch. It is definitely something that is not too over the top, or visually complicating which some independent watchmakers tend to offer.
Speake-Marin Spirit Seafire
First launched in 2014, the Spirit Seafire is notable for being the first chronograph timepiece produced by Speake-Marin. It found a home within the Spirit collection as Peter felt that a series inspired by vintage British military and pilot watches was the “perfect environment” for the classical chronograph.
The watch, as the name suggests, features similar design cues as its Spirit sibling that we have just highlighted above. This includes the round giant hour markers, as well as the Roman numerals that were featured in the hour counter sub-dial for the chronograph. Other emblematic Speake-Marin designs were present as well, such as the topping tool motif (which acts as a running seconds-hand counter), the “Foundation Style” hands and its signature Piccadilly case.
Available in several colour variants, the Spirit Seafire is undoubtedly another conspicuous and outstanding timepiece. Not only does the watch feature some rather striking colour schemes, but its design is rather unique and unusual as well. Retailing at CHF 8,500 (approximately S$11,842), the watch is priced rather competitively as compared to the chronographs that are produced by other independent watchmakers. The watch is powered by the ubiquitous Valjoux 7750, but the design and aesthetics make quite a good impression.
Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon
We then proceed on to the haute horlogerie department of Speake-Marin, first with the Magister Tourbillon.
The Magister Tourbillon, similar to the Velsheda, was one of the novelties that they had unveiled in Baselworld 2014. As its nomenclature suggests, the timepiece features a tourbillion – a complication that Peter is passionate about. During one of the conversations that we had with Peter, he mentioned that the tourbillion “is rather profound, in illustrating the passing of time“. In the Magister, fans of this particular complication will be pleased. The tourbillon is massive, and it features a well-finished topping tool motif for its cage which completes a revolution once every 60 seconds. In addition, thanks to its simple dial, all the attention is focused onto the tourbillon, giving it the limelight it deserves. The watch is powered by the in-house SM3, which features a platinum rotor and power reserve of around 72 hours.
Unlike some of the other watches from the watchmaker, the Magister Tourbillon is very understated and traditional. It is an excellent alternative if one is looking to buy a simple tourbillon, and something that is exclusive and rather well-made.
Speake-Marin Magister Double Tourbillon
Saving the best for the last, we have the magnificent Magister Double Tourbillon.
Although both the Tourbillon (the one that we have just featured above) and the Double Tourbillon are from the same Magister family, but they are seemingly rather different. In terms of aesthetics alone, the Double Tourbillon features a stunning off-centre grand feu enamel dial, which sort of reminds us of the Piccadilly that we have featured at the start of the article. The differences are even more pronounced in the complications department: the Double Tourbillon, as its name suggests, features a twin vertical tourbillon system that is linked by the équilibreur de marche (rate equalizer). More details on this can be found in our review article here. In addition, the timepiece also comes with both the power reserve indicator and a day/night indicator, which balances the aesthetics on the dial.
However, we reckon the main highlight is the finishing of the watch. We were thoroughly impressed with the level of finishing. Just to give you a flavour, the movement features mailechort bridges, perlage, Côtes de Genève, and ruthenium plating. Combined with the enamel dial and the flame-blued hands, the Double Tourbillon offers collectors a visual spectacle with its attention to detail.
In all, we think that the Double Tourbillon is an amalgamation of what Speake-Marin had done so far. Ranging from the Piccadilly case, to the beautiful enamel dial and the double tourbillon complication, the watch itself basically encompasses the history and major milestones of Speake-Marin. Priced at CHF249,000 (approximately S$346,800), it is not exactly a piece for mere mortals. But for those with a taste for the unusual and well made, then perhaps the Magister Double Tourbillon might be something that you’d want to consider.
Even though Speake-Marin is a relatively new name in the world of horology, but they have definitely captured the hearts of many collectors with its well-priced and well-designed watches. We have a particular soft spot for some of their pieces, especially their dressier and classic watches like the Piccadilly and Magister Tourbillon. While they are meant to be slightly dressy, we loved the way Peter played around with the aesthetics of the watches to make it unusual. The Piccadilly case and the “Foundation Style” hands are two excellent examples, in which it adds some flavours and characteristics to the timepieces.
But Speake-Marin also tries to be a bit different with the Spirit collection. It is not meant to be dressy. This gives much more leeway to explore various themes and design cues. The end result is interesting. The exaggerated Roman numerals and the large round indices have become a stylistic signature. The Spirit collection may not everyone’s cup of tea, but the collection have certainly added vibrancy into the brand.
In short, there is something for everyone. You will either be mesmerized by the classical dress watches, or you will be amazed by the slightly whimsical looks of the Spirit (or even the Velsheda). Of course, if you are into haute horlogerie, there are also several tourbillons by Speake-Marin which perhaps might cause many a heart to flutter and skip a beat or two.
So, what are some of your favourite Speake-Marin watches? Or what are the pieces that you think deserves a spot in this list? Let us know, and till the next article, cheers!