Peeling back the layers

Speake Marin’s new many-levelled Openworked Tourbillon Ultra Violet has us hooked with its futuristic, royal-hued look.

At what time of year do violets bloom? As far as Speake Marin’s concerned, it’s April — at Watches and Wonders Geneva 2024, to be precise. Using the fair to announce the launch of its new purple pride and joy, the Openworked Tourbillon Ultra Violet, the Maison once more puts forward a dynamic and ultra-limited edition timepiece that simply begs to be contemplated in a feat of impeccable skill and boundless creativity.
It’s sometimes hard to believe that Speake Marin has only been around for a little over 20 years, because as a manufacturer it’s achieved a remarkably distinctive oeuvre in such a short time. Its story has been a game of two halves — neither of which were restricted by conventionality: founded by an English-born watchmaker in 2002, it was an immediate success among collectors and, in 2012, was acquired by French entrepreneur Mme Christelle Rosnoblet who continues as CEO and President to this day. Moving operations to atelier Le Cercle des Horlogers in the watchmaking heartland of La Chaux-de-Fonds in 2014, Speake Marin has retained complete independence and creative control ever since — its 11 in-house calibres and production of 600 timepieces per year standing testament to the expertise and inventiveness of its master watchmakers. An emphasis on bold, contemporary styles and impeccable crafting have led to the creation of instantly-recognisable collections including the stark, minimalistic strength of the Academic and the delicate undulation of the Stéphane Lacroix-designed Ripples line, while the originality of the Maison’s Haute Horlogerie creations offers a glimpse into the sheer daring of this young marque.

So what of the new Openworked Tourbillon Ultra Violet? Coming in both 42mm and 38mm versions, this Éric Giroud-envisioned self-winding beauty is a lesson in what can happen when ingenuity is allowed to run riot. No stranger to colour — Speake Marin has demonstrated a proclivity for neons before in its Dual Time lime, mint and pink timepieces — this time around, the Ultra Violet shows off more than just a pretty hue. Falling under the One & Two Openworked collection, its pop of periwinkle underlines the profound depths that this timepiece possesses: the three-dimensional display allows the wearer to engage with the watch on a deeper level, looking through the complex arrangement of bridges and openwork to appreciate a geometry and technical prowess reminiscent of a futuristic, ultra-violet tinged cityscape.
The tourbillon set at 1:30 o’ clock, a signature of Speake Marin, is undoubtedly the eye-catcher of this piece, while the off-centre micro-rotor, power reserve indicator and barrel serve as three more cardinal points to balance this distinctive dial’s layout. The light-filled in-house automatic winding SMA05 calibre that powers this timepiece just begs to be inspected, its Côtes de Genève finish the icing on the technically-advanced cake. Offering a power reserve of 72 hours from a single barrel and operating at a frequency of 3Hz (21,600 vibrations per hour) this is a movement with serious horological oomph all wrapped up in a stylishly attractive package.

The signature Piccadilly case — which had a timely revamp in 2017 — is rendered in grade five titanium, making this timepiece supremely light and wearable. The recessed case band is chic and modern, a hallmark of the Maison, with the black rubber strap adding a utilitarian edge to the grace and harmony of the grooved crown and geometric lugs. Subtle luminescence is the final piece of the Ultra Violet puzzle, with the blue glow of Super-LumiNova on the power reserve arrow, minute track and distinctively heart-shaped hands, assuring legibility both day and night.
A love letter to the balance of skill and daring in horology, in the case of this heart-achingly exclusive montre, roses might be red but violets are most definitely purple. And as far as the romance of watchmaking goes — this one’s a keeper.