It has been several years since aBlogtoWatch covered the Speake-Marin brand. Today, the watchmaking company is very little like the original outfit that was founded by Peter Speake-Marin. He sold the brand a few years ago and now goes by Peter Speake. Aside from mostly cosmetic things such as the popular Piccadilly case and overall brand style, little of Speake is left in the Speake-Marin brand. Instead, there is a relatively interesting avant-garde watchmaker with a fair bit of in-house expertise and a lot of variety intended for accomplished timepiece collectors. Let’s take a look at the Speake-Marin Openworked Sandblasted Titanium watch for hints as to what the brand is all about today.

When checking out this watch at Dubai Watch Week 2023, I didn’t immediately realize that Speake-Marin produces both a 38mm and 42mm version of the same watch. They are priced within a few hundred Swiss Francs of each other and satisfy different tastes. One of the upsides of Speake-Marin today is the company’s tendency to try a lot of new things and also have a variety of customers in mind. The particular Speake-Marin Openworked Sandblasted Titanium watch I am wearing in the pictures is the 38mm wide reference 413817440. Given the broad lugs of the Piccadilly-style case, this watch wears a bit larger than its dimensions suggest. It is also not very thick at just 10.5mm. Oddly, neither the Speake-Marin website nor the watch case has any indicators as to water resistance.

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Speake-Marin has many versions of Speake’s seminal Piccadilly case. As the name suggests, the case design is inspired by historic British watch- and clock-making. In this form, the case is produced from grade 5 titanium. The “sandblasted” part of the watch name is somewhat misleading, as it does not refer to the case polishing but rather the dial, which isn’t titanium, as I understand it (though it is the same color as the titanium case). This same style of watch can be purchased with an 18k red gold case. Speake-Marin also offers other dial styles with these polished and brushed titanium cases. Variety is not something lacking at the brand right now.

Few people know that Speake-Marin movements are made in-house. In 2014, the company embarked on a journey to make its own movements (called the “SMA” caliber collection) from its manufacture in the Neuchâtel area of Switzerland. The movement inside the Openworked Sandblasted Titanium watch is known as the caliber SMA01, and it is a micro-rotor-based automatic with some openworked elements on the dial. Speake-Marin has other versions of this movement that add complexity, such a dual-time function or a tourbillon. The openworked, asymmetric look of many of those dials is a bit much for me, and I prefer a simpler dial layout when there is all this going on. So, my choice is the simple time-only automatic version caliber SMA01 movement.

The SMA01 automatic operates at 4Hz with 53 hours of power reserve and looks pretty nice overall, especially for timepiece fans who enjoy asymmetric layouts. Even though the movements aren’t sent to COSC, Speake-Marin claims that they are regulated to within COSC Chronometer performance standards for accuracy. If you look very carefully, there is text engraved on the exposed mainspring barrel through the dial side of the watch. On that mainspring barrel, the text evokes some of Speake’s original “brand values.” That’s a fun addition, and Speake-Marin shares this concept with several Gruebel Forsey watches.

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Speake-Marin makes some pretty nice stuff today but hasn’t formed much of a relationship with the watch-lover community, in my opinion. Their watches are interesting and high-end, but I am not sure Speake-Marin has done a very good job of getting attention from consumers or answering the larger question of “why us?” versus the alternatives. Peter Speake’s original concept with the aesthetics of the Piccadilly case remains interesting and worthy, but that story needs to be repackaged for contemporary audiences who want to know specific reasons to rally behind the company and its products today. Speake-Marin’s product catalog makes it clear that the brand has relationships with many disparate retail partners around the world (who all want slightly different things), but there isn’t much of a cohesive story or concept to pull them all together aside from shared visual aesthetics. This is an opportunity for the company to merge its quality industrial base with communicating a modern story and image that will connect with more of today’s traditional timepiece fans. Price for the Speak-Marin Openworked Sandblasted Titanium 38mm wide reference 413817440 is CHF 22,200 Swiss Francs. Price for the 42mm wide reference 414217440 is CHF 22,600 Swiss Francs. Learn more at the Speake-Marin watches website.

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