Speake-Marin - your friday with the Académie Horlogère des Créatures Indépendants
If you consider yourself a real watch addict and are used to visit the two biggest watch-related fairs (SIHH and Baselworld) you will probably know already where you can find him: his booth is both located in downtown Geneva and in the exhibition's hall, where all the brands belonging to the restricted group of the AHCI (Académie Horlogère des Créatures Indépendants) label are bundled together. I’m talking about Peter Speake, the founder of the Speake-Marin workshop and one of those guys who, if you grew up in London, probably repaired or brought back to life your father's or grandfather's Breguet or Patek Philippe.
After studing watchmaking and learning the secrets of the most intricated complications of this art, this true Londoner decided to leave his hometown to settle in Switzerland, where he founded his very own brand in 2002. Peter is not the first watchmaker, and hopefully not the last one, who dedicated his life to learn the mysteries of traditional hand-made watchmaking, a niche market that is geared towards an ever growing number of people who are looking for something different than the products of well-known industrial brands.
This long introduction is mandatory, especially when it comes to the Italian market, where most people are probably not familiar at all with Speake-Marin, so please consider this Horbiter's article not as a traditional review with its pros and cons but rather as an introduction to this specific label and also as our very own chance to add yet another prestigious brand to those that have already been featured in this magazine.
Some time ago, my photographer took a few nice pictures of various models from the Speake Marin’s collection. The pictures take us through the so-called “entry-level” models up to the haute horlogerie watches and I’m glad to be able to share them with you together with some additional details about the brand and its masterpieces. In creating his watches, Peter has clearly focused on the concept of “branding” and he has set some base features across the whole range of watches that define a true identity and make them stand out, both aesthetically and technically speaking, from the rest of the crowd. His experience in traditional watchmaking can be clearly seen in the brand's logo that boasts a “topping tool”, a device that watchmakers used in the past to re-cut or re-shape wheel teeth.
The logo can be found on each one of his timepieces and, quite often, it has a specific function too, like on the Speake-Marin Spirit Wing Commander 42mm Titanium Red or Blue for instance. These timepieces are two different versions of a vintage pilot's watch inspired to the style of the British army and they feature a large date and a power reserve indicator.
This is oversized and is used to elapse the running seconds at 9 o' clock, while on the Speake-Marin Magister 42mm Red Gold Tourbillon with a platinum micro-rotor, it is the upper bridge of the 60 seconds Tourbillon cage.
Every timepiece crafted by Speake Marin features a unique case design that the watchmaker laconically renamed “Piccadilly”. The design recreates the shape of a central drum and it draws inspiration from those that once equipped the Marine Chronometers, it features a fluted diamond like bezel and slightly curved elongated lugs with screws.
No matter what the model and/or the case size is, this style is one of Speake-Marin’s trademarks and it represents a unique case design across the entire range. I personally think that it appears a bit too classic looking but, at the very same time, it also is everything but a “deja-vù”. In my opinion, however, the strongest trademark of a Speake-Marin watch is represented by the style of its hands, especially of the hours hand, whose shape reminds us of an ace of spades and is repeated four times across the timpiece like the Speake-Marin Cabinet des Mysteres Jumping Hours, where Peter shows all his prowess, it is a masterpiece that features central minutes and seconds hands with four tiny central hours hands that work as four separate jump hour indications.
So did I somehow manage to arouse your curiosity? Please be reminded that Speake-Marin's watches are not even retailed in Italy and I am not sure whether the watchmaker is looking into entering this market in the near future, so if you would like to take a closer look at one of his fabulous timepieces you will need to plan a trip to Central Europe or, if you prefer, you can check at what fair or exhibition you could meet him in person. The next fair that we are going to visit is the one in Geneva which is taking place in January 2016 and, most likely, it is also the very same place, where the brand will unveil its new 2016 timepieces, items that we will start reviewing very soon for the joy of our readers.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Speake-Marin; Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter