Story of the brand: Swiss watchmaking, English flair
Speake-Marin is an independent brand founded in Switzerland in 2002 by passionate English watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin. His consummate skill and vision have made Speake-Marin’s exclusive timepieces technically superlative and aesthetically distinctive. The first timepiece to bear the Speake-Marin name was a hand-crafted tourbillon pocket watch with two power trains. This piece helped Peter earn coveted membership of the prestigious AcadémieHorlogère des CréateursIndépendants (AHCI). Christened ‘The Foundation Watch’, it also became a template for his wristwatches: The shape of its hands, pleated crown, topping-tool motif of the tourbillon cage and hand-engraving are all features that grace the Speake-Marin collection today. In 2002, he launched the Piccadilly collection, instantly recognisable through Speake-Marin’s now iconic Piccadilly case, featuring distinctive screwed lugs and pleated crown, and inspired by his formative years in London. “The time I spent in Piccadilly remains the most influential period of my working career,” he recalls. “Working in antique restoration allowed me to study many different approaches taken by the world’s greatest watchmakers. Whether functional or aesthetic, the solutions were always very creative and showed me that there are many ways to approach the myriad elements involved in watchmaking.” While the Speake-Marin collection has grown to encompass complications including date, jumping hours, perpetual calendar, tourbillons and minute repeaters, with fired-enamel, semi-skeletonised, hand-engraved, and multi-level dials, Peter has equally lent his considerable talents to collaborative projects including Harry Winston’s Excenter Tourbillon, MB&F’s Horological Machine No.1 as well as Chapter One and Chapter Two for Maîtres du Temps. However, the timepiece that really launched the Speake-Marin brand into a wider market was 2009’s automatic-winding Marin 1, complete with the superlatively designed and finished in-house SM2 calibre. This was followed a year later by the equally acclaimed and elegant manual-winding Marin 2 Thalassa. And in 2011, the Spirit Pioneer, boasting an especially legible dial and uplifting engraved case-back motto, quickly sold out after its launch. The Spirit Mark 2 – with five-day power reserve, ‘one-piece’ dial and refined case – followed in 2012, a year that also saw the brand launch the Serpent Calendar with curved date hand, Piccadilly HMS (Hours, Minutes and Seconds) and the fired-enamel dial Resilience, these latter three featuring the automatic winding Eros calibre with five-day power reserve and housed in a slim 38mm or 42mm Piccadilly case in either stainless steel or 18K red gold. These superlative models have, in a sense, represented a rebirth of Speake-Marin and its collection, where Peter has retraced all that he has worked on and developed since the inception of the brand over a decade ago, while also drawing on his formative years working in antique timepiece restoration. “The notions of rediscovery and reinterpretation have been central to our recent creativity,” says Peter. “I wanted to revisit some of my early designs that were quintessentially Speake-Marin, models that were instrumental in developing the Speake-Marin collection.” Indeed, the Serpent Calendar saw Peter revisit one of the brand’s most successful and iconic models, the Serpent, and redesign it from the ground up. The Serpent Calendar features a sinuous, blued-steel date hand set into a multi-layered, white-lacquer dial with bold Roman numerals. With Piccadilly HMS – Hours, Minutes and Seconds – Peter reinterpreted his first Piccadilly design to create a timepiece exuding elegant simplicity. The dial is silvered with a fine guilloche in the centre and hand circular grained outer ring, or white-lacquered, superbly throwing the blued-steel Foundation hands into sharp relief. Resilience also takes its cues from one of Peter’s early Piccadilly designs: It features a beautiful, oven-fired enamel dial that not only sets off the blued-steel hands and refined Roman numerals, but will also keep its youthful freshness for centuries. “Resilience’s enamel dial is inspired by the antique pocket watches I used to restore in Piccadilly early in my career,” explains Peter. “These pieces were often over a hundred years old but were still as beautiful the day they were made thanks in no small part to their enamel dials. “Enamel dials never tarnish with age. Thus, Resilience is indeed resilient, in terms of substance – the enamel will stay the same for time immemorial – and in terms of style, thanks to the dial’s pure, clean design and the classicism of the Piccadilly case.” Most emblematic of Speake-Marin’s ‘rebirth’ is the brand’s flagship Renaissance tourbillon minute repeater, with intricate mechanical complexity, majestic open-dial architecture and aesthetic sophistication – the back of each movement is decorated with a unique hand-engraving. “Renaissance puts much of my previous work together into one watch,” says Peter. “I wanted to have a tourbillon because my Foundation Watch featured one; I wanted a minute repeater because I learned about these while restoring them in London. “Renaissance, the Serpent Calendar, Piccadilly HMS, Resilience, the Spirit Mark 2… these are the fruits of my reflecting on and bringing together all those elements that make Speake-Marin what it is, and that make me who I am who I am.”
Peter Speake-Marin Biography
Peter Speake-Marin was born Peter Neville Speake in 1968 in Essex, England, to an English mother and Welsh father. When Peter reached the end of his secondary school education, he originally had the intention of entering the world of jewellery. However, after a visit to a kindly careers teacher, Peter entered the world of watchmaking. He began his horological education at Hackney Technical College in London in 1985 and then continued his studies at WOSTEP, the prestigious Swiss watchmaking school in Neuchâtel. Having completed the WOSTEP high-end complications course, Peter returned to England. He was eventually employed by Somlo Antiques then based in the Piccadilly arcade, London where he was tasked with establishing the watch restoration department of this prestigious antiques house. During seven years at Somlo, Peter had the privilege of restoring antique watches made by many of the great historical masters and brands, such as pieces by Arnold, Frodsham and Nielson, original Breguets and Patek Philippes – from the dawn of watchmaking through to the 1950s. Through this experience, Peter learnt how past masters had found their watchmaking solutions and their diverse ways of making watches, and he fell in love with this intoxicating combination of history, art and mechanics. In 1996, he married, changing his name from Speake to Speake-Marin, before he and his wife moved to Le Locle, Switzerland where he worked for Renaud & Papi to help develop and build high-end complications as well as train young watchmakers. In his spare time, Peter began acquiring his own machinery and constructed by hand a tourbillon pocket watch with twin power trains, which later became known as the “Foundation Watch”– the foundation stone for his future work – and helped him earn coveted membership of the prestigious Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI). In the “Foundation Watch”, Peter laid down his style and philosophy while establishing his first independent workshop at the beginning of the millennium on the picturesque Lake Geneva between Geneva and Lausanne. The first wristwatch to leave his workshop at the end of 2003 took its cues from the Foundation Watch. Peter named its distinctive case “The Piccadilly” after the time he spent at Somlo in Piccadilly and the major influence that this period of his career had on his watchmaking outlook. As an independent, he has collaborated as a watchmaker designer and consultant with many different companies including Harry Winston, MB&F and Maîtres du Temps. Since the beginning of 2008 he has channelled his efforts exclusively into Speake-Marin. With all Speake-Marin watches there is a tangible link to classical watchmaking but with contemporary unique style and design. Peter Speake-Marin’s timepieces are very much a representation of himself as a watchmaker, reinventing horology in his own way. There are very few modern watchmakers and brands that have created such an original style, adhered to such an underlying philosophy of constant excellence, beauty and longevity of design and aesthetics, to create timepieces that will endure.