Speake-Marin One & Two Academic

The Speake-Marin One & Two Academic features the brand’s new in-house movement, the SMA03. Marketed as a ‘casual chic timepiece’, Angus Davies examines this new watch at close quarters.

This detailed review of the Speake-Marin One & Two Academic includes live images, specification and pricing.

Speake-Marin One & Two Academic - off-centre seconds with in-house movement featuring micro-rotor

The world of academia is brimming with intellectuals who dare to question convention. Some choose to employ their intelligence to innovate, setting aside established practices and conceiving fresh ideas. 

Speake-Marin has named its latest watch, ‘Academic’. It seems a very apt nomenclature for this watch, as it, too, sidesteps accepted norms and delivers something new. The Speake-Marin One & Two Academic does not follow the accepted practice of positioning the small seconds at 6 o’clock. It is different.

This watch features a small seconds display at 1:30. On the face of it, this may not sound revolutionary, however, it presents technical challenges which have to be surmounted. By locating the small seconds at 1:30, the small seconds has to go through the time setting module. For many brands, this obstacle would render the idea impractical. For Speake-Marin, the idea proved viable as the company develops its own in-house movements. 

However, as I will go on to explain, the Speake-Marin One & Two Academic is more than a watch with an unusually positioned small seconds display. It is endowed with a multitude of qualities, making it worthy of consideration.

The dial

Speake-Marin offers the One & Two Academic in a choice of three dial colours, ‘metallic blue’, ‘slate grey’ and ‘silvery white’. Personally, I favour the latter option, but all three dial variants are attractive and proffer modernity.

Speake-Marin One & Two Academic - off-centre seconds with in-house movement featuring micro-rotor

The ‘heart-shaped’ rhodium plated hands are very curvaceous and exhibit a notable degree of style. Despite their obvious eye-appeal, the hands remain highly functional. The minute hand in particular, featuring sinuous contours, stretches to the chapter ring and, in so doing, aids readability.

The dial is comprised of two levels. The central dial area sits on a lower plane, adorned with a polished finish. The hour track sits on high, its surface is matte and it features Roman numerals at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock in hollow relief.

Small orange-red numerals grace the chapter ring, denoting each 5-minute integer. Positioned in between are short strokes indicating the individual minutes. The chapter ring and bold hands confer excellent legibility.

Speake-Marin has cleverly manipulated different depths to augment the appeal of this watch. In particular, the aforementioned small seconds display straddles the hour track and the central dial area. Moreover, it sits below the neighbouring hour track, heightening its visual impact.

The case

The Piccadilly case has been a distinguishing feature of Speake-Marin’s watches for many years. This style of case elicits recognition among collectors who appreciate the distinctive appearance of the luxurious housing. The maison has recently updated the Piccadilly case, albeit it still retains the brand’s distinctive look.

Speake-Marin One & Two Academic - off-centre seconds with in-house movement featuring micro-rotor

Offered in a choice of 38mm and 42mm, the case is presented in grade 5 titanium, a lightweight metal with hypoallergenic properties. Gracing the rear is a pane of sapphire crystal providing sight of the Swiss company’s new movement, the Calibre SMA03.

Speake-Marin One & Two Academic - off-centre seconds with in-house movement featuring micro-rotor

A ‘casual leather strap’ is affixed to the watch and paired with a stainless steel pin buckle.

The movement

In 2014, Speake-Marin embarked on a strategy to ‘fully develop and assemble in-house movements within its atelier in (the) Neuchâtel area..’. This led to the brand conceiving its ‘SMA’ collection of movements. Last year, the Swiss company unveiled the One & Two Openworked timepiece featuring the in-house SMA01 movement.

Speake-Marin One & Two Academic - off-centre seconds with in-house movement featuring micro-rotor

This year, the niche watch brand unveiled the Speake-Marin One & Two Academic equipped with the new Calibre SMA03. At the heart of this movement is a micro-rotor imparting energy to the spring barrel. The power reserve is sufficient to deliver 52 hours of autonomy.

The frequency of the Calibre SMA03 is 28,800 vph (4Hz) and the movement features 31 jewels. The bridges are embellished with Côtes de Genève motif and the micro-rotor resembles a watchmaker’s topping tool.

I particularly appreciate the shape of the balance cock with its curved edges. In addition, glorious perlage adorns the main plate and can be seen beneath the micro-rotor.

Closing remarks

The location of the small seconds display has necessitated much ingenuity. Indeed, Speake-Marin has overcome various obstacles in order to differentiate itself from other brands.

Personally, I appreciate the location of the small seconds display and believe it bestows the dial with an interesting layout. However, in my opinion, where this dial truly excels is with the clever use of differing depths. The Roman numerals in hollow relief and the blend of matte and polished surfaces grant much appeal. Furthermore, the heart-shaped rhodium plated hands pronounce the prevailing time with clarity and an abundance of style.

I have always admired the brand’s Piccadilly case and this updated version has reinforced my positive opinion. Made in grade 5 titanium, the case is light and skin friendly. The crown is prominent, facilitating manipulation when setting the time or winding the mainspring.

Since 2014, when Speake-Marin ‘initiated a movement strategy’, the brand has been very active developing its in-house movements. The Calibre SMA03 is imbued with an impressive level of finishing, especially considering its modest asking price of CHF 12,000 (tax included – 18.4.2018). Moreover, by equipping the movement with a micro-rotor the wearer is able to enjoy unhindered views of the bridges and balance. This is a very beautiful movement.

Lastly, I note in the brand’s press materials that they describe the Speake-Marin One & Two Academic as a ‘casual chic model’. Certainly, the watch exudes a high quotient of style but there is nothing ‘casual’ about the mechanical know-how employed, it represents serious watchmaking. Indeed, it is the intelligent design of this watch which makes its ‘Academic’ label seem most appropriate.

Further information

http://speake-marin.com/

Technical specification

  • Model: Speake-Marin One & Two Academic 
  • Case: Grade 5 titanium; diameter 38mm or 42mm; sapphire crystal to front and case-back; water resistant to 3 atm (30 metres)
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds
  • Movement: Calibre SMA03; Self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 31 jewels; power reserve 52 hours
  • Strap: ‘Casual leather strap’ with steel pin buckle
  • Price: 38mm – CHF 11,500 (Tax included – RRP as at 18.4.2018)
  • Price: 42mm – CHF 12,000 (Tax included – RRP as at 18.4.2018)