HANDS-ON: The Speake-Marin Ripples Blue Jeans & Ripples Date bring new colour and complicationZach Blass
These days, for a manufacture not to have an integrated watch design is a bit like not having a smartphone. Sure, there may be a bit of respect for these flip-phone manufactures resisting the trend and times. But, ultimately, in the midst of the craze, having a solid integrated sports watch within a manufacture portfolio is a must-have. With such saturation within the segment, however, the designs I appreciate the most are ones that simultaneously tick off some familiar boxes while also presenting new and refreshing elements that offer a compelling twist. And, the Speake-Marin Ripples did just that from the outset of its introduction. With a winner on their hands though, there was certainly room for the collection to expand. At Watches & Wonders Geneva 2023 we were not only introduced to one new Ripples reference, but two: the Speake-Marin Ripples Blue Jeans that further expands the colourways offered in the original format and the Ripples Date which introduces the complication into the collection for the first time.
Once again the Ripples finds itself in a stainless-steel case, 40.3mm in diameter and a compact-for-the-category 45.5mm lug-to-lug across the wrist. While the addition of some complications might result in an increase to case thickness, fortunately the Ripples Date – like the Ripples Blue Jeans and its no-date predecessors – is a sporty-slender 9.2mm thick.
The cases also continue the same finishing style as previous Ripples references, largely utilising brushed surfaces that are complemented by thin polished bevels to the lugs, facets of the baseband, and bezel edge. The watch may have the illusion of appearing larger due to the ample real estate afforded to the dial, but you will notice the straight-sloped camber of the lugs really ensures the watch wraps nicely around the wrist. And, remember, 45.5mm lug-to-lug, even with a longer effective lug-to-lug to the end links of the bracelet, has an ergonomic and wrist-friendly design when you consider both the camber and compact lug-to-lug span.
The dials for both the Ripples Blue Jeans and Ripples Date are largely the same in design and layout. They both have the signature 1:30 positioned small seconds register, signature central spade hours hand and double-leaf seconds hand, applied hour indices, and an architecturally inspired Ripples channelling. Both also have a sloped inner bezel dotted outer minutes track that allows for minimal interruption to the intriguing texture of the dial. On the Blue Jeans, a limited edition of 60 pieces, the dial has been executed in a sky or baby blue – with the concentrically textured small seconds register and sloped inner bezel rendered in a darker navy blue. Perhaps the main dial could be considered faded blue jeans, while the accents of the other surfaces are more your indigo raw denim.
The Ripples Date, however, does not break any new ground for the collection in terms of dial colour. Instead, it fittingly bring things back to black where it all began with the original Ripples watch. While the dial is described as black, you can quickly discern in-hand that the rippled surface of the dial is just a touch brighter than the small seconds counter and sloped inner bezel. Where the watch does in fact break new ground for the collection is the framed date window at the 6′ position. I like that its longer rectangular framing allows the date window to effectively serve as an applied index for the sixth hour. Given it’s billed as the sporty Speake-Marin watch, you might be concerned there are no luminous coatings used on the dials. I do not mind its exclusion, as the watch has more of an elegant sensibility and is a surface-swimming 50 metres water-resistant. There are no illusions of this watch summiting Mt. Everest. That being said, with the brand known for quirky expressions of colour as of late perhaps we will one day see a DLC-coated version with lime green and luminous accents. Should you make this design Speake-Marin, I will be looking for my commission.
The bracelet has a pseudo Oyster feel and look, but it distinguished itself with broader polished centre links. These centre links also maintain a fixed width, while the flanking brushed links, bevelled on their shoulders, initially maintain the width of the lugs then gradually taper down for a few links until they begin to remain consistent in width. The integrated bracelet utilises a butterfly clasp, which I personally enjoy as it helps keep the watch more centered on the wrist.
Both watches effectively use the same calibre, the in-house SAM03-T, but with the addition of the date complication the calibre within the Ripples Date is designated as the SAM03-TD (D denoting the date complication). Their usage of a micro-rotor winding system allows the watch to have its sub-10mm thickness, but aesthetically speaking it also allows for a more generous view of the movement bridges and gear train beneath.
The 52-hour power reserve calibres are handsomely decorated, you can see from our hands-on photographs just how sharp and well-executed the anglage is at the edges of the bridges and balance cock. The striping is performed in a manner that results in a rich wavy graining to the channels, and beneath the micro-rotor you can see the mainplate is decorated with perlage beneath. Ultimately, the calibre is not setting any technical records. Nor does it have a full balance bridge to give the movement a sportier sense of shock resistance. But, irrefutably, the movement is striking and stunning to look at and certainly justifies its exhibition through the sapphire caseback.
As I mentioned in the beginning, with the integrated luxury sports watch segment so saturated, having a design such as the Ripples available on the market is a welcome change of pace that allows horology nerds to find their integrated-kicks in a different and intriguing place. With the limited nature of the collection, whether limited edition or limited in production annually, those who bring a Ripples watch into their collection will have the added benefit of flexing a lesser-seen watch that will surely start a conversation with those around you – W.I.S. or otherwise. And, even better, the Ripples, in my view, is not compelling solely because it is different. Rather, it is because it is different done well, by an independent manufacture that is rooted in and understands and respects watchmaking.
Hype beasts can fight at retail, or over pay on the secondary, for their Nautilus. True horology lovers, however, can find solace in the Ripples. The Ripples Date will certainly win over those intrigued by the original, but who hesitated due to their need to have a date complication. And, with the Blue Jeans, I think we all know just how hot this sort of blue is these days in the marketplace. My last challenge for Speake-Marin though: I would love to see later Ripples models get to a 100 metre depth rating.
Speake-Marin Ripples Blue Jeans & Ripples Date pricing and availability:
The Speake-Marin Ripples Blue Jeans is limited to just 60 pieces, compared to the annual production of 100 standard models. Price: CHF23,000
The Speake-Marin Ripples Date will be available with an annual production of 250 pieces per year. Price: CHF23,900
|Models||Ripples Blue Jeans & Ripples Date|
|Case Dimensions||40.3mm (D) x 9.2mm (T) x 45.5mm (L2L)|
|Case Material||Stainless steel|
|Crystal(s)||Sapphire crystal and exhibiton caseback|
|Dial||Blue (Ripples Blue Jeans), black (Ripples Date)|
|Movement||SMA03-T ( Ripples Blue Jeans), SMA03-TD (Ripples Date)|
|Power Reserve||52 hours|
|Availability||Limited to 60 pieces (Blue Jeans), 250 pcs. per year (Ripples Date)|
|Price||CHF23,000 (Blue Jeans), CHF23,900 (Ripples Date)|