— Once an independent who’s worked on unique pieces and small series his entire career, Peter Speake-Marin now heads down the path to a more conventional brand structure.
Speake-Marin’s timepieces already possess many unique and instantly identifiable characteristics that make this job an easy one. The Piccadilly line, for example, is outfitted with classic Speake-Marin elements that are truly unlike others of the same genre. These include the elongated lugs with the prominent screw, the pleated crown, the topping tool motif used on winding rotors and tourbillon cages, and the blued, heart-shaped hands Speake-Marin calls the “Foundation style” after his very first UK replica watches: the Foundation Watch.
“When you have a product like that, which defines itself so differently from virtually everybody else, it’s actually quite powerful,” Speake-Marin justifiably postulates. “However, it’s not comfortable for everybody because has its own spirit, its own identity.”
It does, however, seem to resonate with a number of watch-interested consumers at the moment as Speake-Marin confirms hardly being able to keep up with production thanks to international demand. “Globally speaking, something with that kind of identity, price range, and quality…when you look at the whole thing together, it’s actually quite extraordinary,” he justifiably states. With a smaller, more flexible outfit and an eponymous creator who never seems to run out of ideas, Speake-Marin is able to produce at an extremely high level, but at a price point different from more famous brands because the structure and expectations are much different than for big companies working with huge volumes.
One large step going forward toward building this new-found brand feeling is the fact that Speake-Marin’s timepieces are now more or less neatly categorized in three lines, providing more clarity to the consumer.
Spirit shows its Piccadilly roots in the pleated crown and Foundation hands among other elements. After having premiered in November 2011 with the Spirit Pioneer model, it has become the line’s casual, sporty piece and simultaneously represents the entry level to the Speake-Marin brand. Then there are the dress fake watches, which include pieces such as the Resilience and the Serpent Calendar. “These are more serious, hand-finished pieces, which are on another level,” Speake-Marin continues.
The third, called Cabinet des Mystères, encompasses the artsy side of this watchmaker’s personality, one that the earliest collectors of his one-of-a-kind pieces are very familiar with. “Whether it’s Mechanical Art [like 2013’s Triad], or things I do with casing, or something wacky or incredibly high-end, I can have fun. In the Cabinet des Mystères is probably where you’re going to find most of the things that will appeal to [my original] collectors. It’s kind of the mad section, erudite.”
Moving on up
The least expensive pieces, like the Spirit MK II that was preselected by Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève’s jury in the Petite Aiguille category (meaning that it retails for less than 7,500 Swiss francs) are not hand-finished. “They’re assembled in a very conventional way; the ones finished by hand are always going to be much more expensive,” he explains.
Pieces like this and the very popular Triad introduced at Baselworld 2013 bring Speake-Marin great amounts of visibility. “The Triad will never be an Oyster, it will never be a Calatrava, it will never be a Reverso, but it doesn’t matter. They’re the kind of pieces that make people talk, I get a kick out of doing, and are completely original.”
At Baselworld 2014, Speake-Marin will exhibit his original collection in Hall 1.1 for the first time, moving out of The Palace, which is usually where the independent watchmakers are found. “I don’t just want to survive, I want to prosper,” he notes. And that includes moving up. Literally.