The Speake-Marin Academic Black Tie is minimalist and avant-gardeFergus Nash
The evolution of Speake-Marin continues. Back when the brand was owned by its founder, most of their business was conducted as bespoke orders for extremely wealthy clients. After the management shake-up, we’ve seen Speake-Marin release a few new and more affordable references as part of the Ripples collection as well as brightly coloured editions of the old Piccadilly case. For 2023, Speake-Marin have elected to create a new generation of the Piccadilly, which also branches into a more minimalist realm with the Academic Black Tie.
The Piccadilly case was and still is the most unique calling card that Speake-Marin have in their catalogue, somehow managing to carry elements of ornate antiquity alongside contemporary industrialism. The circular case gives an impression of a pocket watch or clock face, with the straight lugs jutting out supplying much of the wrist presence. That said, the main case isn’t featureless at all, with an expertly contoured stepped bezel that surrounds the sapphire crystals on both sides of the watch. The conical crown aids the vintage vibes as well, almost implying a bit of pilot’s watch flair.
The case material is of note here, with grade 5 titanium becoming more and more solidified as an option for luxury watches. Its lightweight properties and darker lustre make for an interesting alternative to steel, although you do need to be more careful when it’s not coated for hardness as it is more prone to scratching than steel. The 10.5mm thickness along with the weight reduction makes it a comfortable wearing experience, regardless of your choice between the 38mm or 42mm sizing options.
Between the high-tech skeletonised dials of the One & Two Dual Time and the deep, rich carving of the Ripples, Speake-Marin have really yet to tackle the art of simplicity. This rich black lacquer dial is a great indicator that Speake-Marin understand themselves and their fans deeply, having distilled all of the key design elements down to three features and removed almost everything else. The first would be the Poire Stuart hand-set which has followed Speake-Marin across all of their releases, second the dominant applied Roman numerals, and third is the small seconds counter at 1:30.
Speake-Marin have waxed poetic about the spirit of black and white, yin and yang and so forth, but what most collectors will care about is how versatile the Academic Black Tie is. As opposed to its white-dialled counterpart, the Academic Black Tie is much more subtle, but it also allows those hands to jump off the dark backdrop for a more striking and sleek effect.
Speake-Marin have used the Calibre SMA03 for the Academic watches, and that same movement powers most of their now-extensive catalogue. This in-house movement is built around the concept of displaying the small seconds at 1:30, and was also initially conceived with the understanding it would be on display in many openwork dials. This specific version of the SMA03 has a few tweaks that make it better for a closed-dial display, but still incorporates the micro-rotor for automatic winding at 9 o’clock and 52 hours of power reserve beating at 4Hz.
Speake-Marin Academic pricing and availability:
The Speake-Marin Academic Black Tie watches are part of the brand’s regular production, and are also some of the most affordable models that Speake-Marin have ever produced. Price: CHF 14,500 (38mm) / CHF 14,900 (42mm)
|Model||Academic Black Tie|
|Case Dimensions||38mm (D) x 10.5mm (T)
42mm (D) x 10.5mm (T)
|Case Material||Grade 5 titanium|
|Strap||Black leather strap with titanium folding buckle|
|Movement||SMA03, micro-rotor automatic|
|Power Reserve||52 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, small seconds|
|Price||CHF 14,500 (38mm)
CHF 14,900 (42mm)