Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon

Angus Davies reveals his love for the Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon and the artisan who has brought this watch into being.

This detailed review of the Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

I love Peter Speake-Marin.

My declaration of love does not reveal any carnal desires for the English watchmaker. Indeed, my wife, who proof reads all my articles, on reading this can be rest assured it is only the sight of her feminine ankle that turns my head.

Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Nevertheless, I have a profound liking for the English watchmaker. Through endeavour he has ascended from the ranks of a humble student at Hackney Technical College in London, under the tutelage of the magnificent Peter Roberts, to become one of the finest watchmakers of his generation.

Peter has embraced Swiss life, firstly by attending the prestigious Swiss watchmaking school in Neuchâtel before permanently moving to the landlocked country and establishing his own maison, Speake-Marin.

I have never quizzed Peter too much about his professional journey, I can only imagine the struggles and obstacles he has inevitably overcome to achieve the success he now enjoys.

The watches which bear his name are gorgeous. They exhibit a refreshing individuality which differentiates them from anything else on the market. These are “proper watches”, imbued with aesthetics which will stand the testament of time and confer a lifetime of service, courtesy of their intrinsic craftsmanship and quality.

It is by appreciating what Peter has achieved that makes me feel a sense of obligation to tell his story and share with readers the beauty of his watches. Moreover, I find myself feeling slightly protective of the artisan, and his work, not that he needs my guardianship.

Recently, whilst attending Baselworld 2014, I sat listening to Peter present his latest novelties with two other journalists in attendance. The questions proffered by these other journalists, at times, bordered on the banal and, on occasion, were just plain stupid. However, Peter, always a perfect gentleman, never once revealed any irritation or impatience.

One of the journalists placed a gorgeous, and very valuable, tourbillon upon her crossed leg and continued to listen to Peter, I sat aghast at her lack of respect for the artisan’s work. Moreover, as I tried to pay attention to Peter’s presentation, I found myself distracted by the perilous position of the high-end watch on the journalist’s leg. Then, in a moment of panic, I saw the beautiful watch sliding off the said leg and heading for a free fall descent to the floor. With surprisingly lightening reaction, unusual for me as I seldom move quickly, I caught the watch and a catastrophe was thankfully averted. Unbelievably, my fellow journalist appeared oblivious to the potential gravity of this narrowly avoided disaster.

Peter continued to chat patiently to the journalist, not once showing any signs of annoyance. I was annoyed. I was incredibly annoyed that this individual could display such a degree of disrespect to a great man and the horological masterpiece he had conceived.

This is merely one illustration why I genuinely love Peter. However, my adoration for the talented watchmaker, designer and consultant to the industry does not cloud my judgement. I do not view his watches with rose-tinted spectacles for his work stands the scrutiny of the most discriminating eyes. Speake-Marin watches deliver a great deal for a relatively modest sum.

The aforementioned tourbillon gracing the leg of the female journalist was one of Peter’s latest creations, the Magister Tourbillon and it is this model which is the focus of my review.

The dial

Aesthetically the Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon shares much in common with the appearance of the Resilience 42mm Steel save for one obvious detail, a 60-second tourbillon, positioned at 6 o’clock.

Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Thermally blued sculpted and sinuous “Foundation” hour and minute hands impart the prevailing time with a charming etiquette, befitting a debutante. They transcend the ordinary, delivering a notable air of breeding.

Elongated Roman numerals, presented in black, convey the hours with matchless lucidity, making ease of interpretation quick and simple. Encircling the dial is a series of small, subtle, yet simple to read, black dots denoting the minutes.

The dial canvas is a sea of white-laquered purity. It has an air of innocence courtesy of its chaste demeanour. The resultant mien is pristine, delivering an abundance of eye-appeal which will no doubt endure for generations to come.

Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The tourbillon cage resembles a topping tool. Peter has referenced the topping tool before, creating self-winding watches which feature a rotor formed into the “topping tool motif” and this has become part of the Speake-Marin DNA. Peter explained, “I have always been attracted to the topping tool because of its form. You use a tool to make a component, you make a timepiece, and the timepiece is a dream turned into reality. The topping tool motif is very much at the root of everything I do: It is the tool which gives me the means to realise my dream.”

The case 

The case is very interesting, for various reasons. Firstly, it is constructed of grade 5 titanium with a highly polished appearance, resembling steel but with an obvious absence of mass. Placing the Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon upon my wrist at Baselworld, I was impressed by the brilliant appearance of the polished case. As light interfaced with the case, it looked resplendent and exuded an air of sophistication I found most becoming. I was also impressed by the comfort the 42mm case accorded. The watch did not feel unduly heavy or large, nor did I suffer any discomfort or annoying red marks on my wrist.

Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

This is a complex case, comprising of 27 components. Quite simply, it feels special.

As previously mentioned, the Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon shares some design elements in common with the Resilience 42mm Steel, namely the fluted crown and the screws which affix the strap to the case. The commonality between these two models is something I appreciate, it ties the Speke-Marin J-Class family together into a cohesive collection which should retain relevance for eons, untouched by the fickle fate of fashion.

Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The exhibition caseback reveals the Calibre SM3, indulging eyes with a feast of fine finishing.

The movement

The Calibre SM3 is self-winding, courtesy of an unusual platinum micro-rotor which is referenced on the dial of the watch. Moreover, Speake-Marin has stated the frequency of the movement on the dial, “3Hz”. To the casual reader this may sound like the watch company has employed soap-powder marketing techniques, overtly promoting the specification of the watch on the dial. However, rest assured, the tasteful and subtle use of black capitalised text in Times Roman font avec serifs, is the epitome of restraint and enhances the aesthetic of the dial.

Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The power reserve of over 72 hours is remarkable, bearing in mind the watch is fitted with a single barrel. I don’t know the mass of the tourbillon cage, but based on the parsimonious consumption of energy, I suspect it is very, very light indeed.

Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The bridges are rhodium-finished silver and are absent of the de rigueur Côtes de Genève motif. Normally, I would mourn such an omission, but in this instance it works. The discreet adornment of the bridges and oscillating platinum mass provide a charming juxtaposition with the delightfully executed perlage and peerless tourbillon cage.

Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

I adore the way the tourbillon bridge allows the eyes to explore the minutiae of the movement. The finissage is exemplary with the screw heads and sinks polished to a mirror-like finish. Various details of the movement specification are expertly engraved on the movement, gilded to enhance legibility.

Everything is distilled to an extremely high standard.

Closing remarks

I can’t hide my affection for this watch. My adoration of the Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon is by now obvious. However, this is no sycophantic love letter to a man I admire, but rather an honest account of a watch I think perfectly exemplifies why the work of Peter Speake-Marin is deserving of praise.

It is not a case of whether I will purchase a Speake-Marin watch, merely a matter of when.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Speake-Marin Magister Tourbillon
  • Reference: PIC.10030
  • Case: Grade 5 titanium; diameter 42 mm; sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; tourbillon
  • Movement: Calibre SM3, self-winding movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3Hz), 25 jewels; power reserve over 72 hours.
  • Strap: Black alligator leather strap presented on a titanium pin buckle

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