If you’re after a sporty chic watch that will set you apart, the limited production Speak-Marin Ripples Original in black could be the out of the box choice!
What We Love
- The ripple effect dial
- Thinness of the case
- Wears extremely comfortable
What We Don’t
- Bracelet clasp is tricky to undo
- Lack of water resistance
- No lume on the dial
Overall Rating: 8.625/10
- Value for money: 8/10
- Wearability: 9/10
- Design: 8.5/10
- Build quality: 9/10
When it comes to the world of watches, the smaller independents often come second to the larger mass luxury brands. With the exception of a few high Haute Horology Maisons, many are overlooked by collectors and buyers alike. Partly due to the lack of mainstream brand presence, i.e marketing dollars, and partly due to the entry pricing of them, with many starting in the 10s of thousands of dollars. But for a good reason!
Speake-Marin is one of these brands. The Maison is just 20 years young, and fiercely independent since the English/Swiss watchmaker was bought by an ambitious and ardent female entrepreneur, Christelle Rosnoblet in 2012. With it’s brand roots in England, yet now calling Switzerland home, the Maison’s pieces are developed, assembled and controlled in a fine watchmaking workshop, Le Cercle des Horlogers, which works hand in hand with Speake-Marin’s creation studio based in Geneva.
Speake-Marin’s philosophy is simple, and boils down to three elements:
All its collections are proposed in Limited editions only.
All its collections are nestled In-house/or Exceptional Movements.
All Speake Marin creations are Exclusive to Speake Marin.
And through these three simple sentences, Speake-Marin aims to develop it’s timepieces within these rules. The result are beautifully crafted, limited production pieces that are quite unique and if you own one, gives you a sense of exclusivity. So when we were asked to take a look at the Ripples Original, and do a review on the piece, the answer was an easy “yes”, as my interest was now piqued!
Whilst Speake-Marin wasn’t a brand on my radar, I’ve been aware of them for a while, but being a smaller independent brand that you don’t get to see much of here in Australia, I’ve not come across them in my travels. On first seeing the Speake-Marin, it doesn’t instantly wow you like some brand’s pieces, but rather warms up to you as you wear it. And you need to wear it to appreciate it fully.
Once you put it on the wrist, you get a sense of what this piece is about, and why you could see yourself owning it and wearing it a lot. The case and dial is somewhat familiar, and maybe because it resembles a Nautilus in a small way. Or maybe as Speake-Marin describe the piece, is “Discreet but complex, it adorns the wrist in a comfortable way“. And I would have to say, it is, and it does!
Speake-Marin have different case designs that are named after places in London, keeping with the brand’s origins in England. In this instance, the Ripples has the ‘La City’ or ‘The City’ case, named after the Square Mile or City of London which represents the historical core and houses major financial institutions, including the Bank of England and the London Stock Exchange. It’s a circle within a rounded square and combined with the outer case with the crown protector, gives off Patek Philippe Nautilus vibes.
The ‘La City’ case is very multi-faceted and when you look at it in more detail, you start to see all the different angles on the case and bezel, and the combination and contrasts between the brushed steel and polished surfaces. Even on the bezel, you see the stepping on the side with one part being brushed and the other polished. And on top, the vertical brushing leads into a polished Anglage at the edges, so you effectively have 4 surfaces on the bezel alone!
The dial is where the watch gets its namesake – Ripples, from. Whilst this is the black dial, in certain light settings, the dial varies from an almost dark chocolate brown to a dark grey. This effect is due to the rippled surface across the dial that reflects the light in different ways. The effect is kind of cool when on the wrist, and gives you something to look at and play around with in those rare quiet moments.
On the rippled dial, Speake-Marin have applied indices in high polish steel, which contrast nicely with the dial. The rhodium plated and shaped hands add a little fun to the dial, especially the love heart shaped hour hand. As with this collection, and something very Speake-Marin, the small seconds dial sits at the 1:30 position on the dial, breaking up the real estate nicely and adding something extra to it.
The integrated bracelet has been well done, with polished centre links and brushed outer links, giving the piece a more dressy look. It’s quite solid in construction, and is attached to the case with a solid end link and screws for added safety. Being an integrated bracelet, Speake-Marin have a double folding clasp that clips in on both ends, with the Speake-Marin logo on the fastener.
How It Wears
Coming back to their statement, it adorns the wrist in a comfortable way, I’d day this is accurate. Most integrated bracelets do wear well on the wrist, and the Speake-Marin Ripples is no different. The bracelet hugs the wrist nicely and doesn’t seem to catch any arm hairs like a few others I’ve tried on in my time. And given the flat case back with the crystal, again, sits nicely on the wrist.
The Speake-Marin is a little bit of a chameleon when it comes to the size. Whilst the watch is only 40.3mm in diameter, it’s very flat and a lot of dial space, so it does wear larger on the wrist. The other reason is the design of the dial and case. As the case is a rounded square, the diameter across the dial diagonally (rather than from the left side to the crown) is actually a few millimetres larger. By my measurements, comes in at just over 45mm so the wrist presence is more than the 40.3mm suggests. In saying this, it still fits perfectly on my 17.5cm wrist.
However, the redeeming aspect of this is the thickness, or lack of. At less than 10mm thick, it sits very flat and flush to the wrist, which helps with it’s wearability. I mentioned how this aspect on the new Panerai Radiomirs helped with their size perception given they’re a 45mm watch, but wears smaller, and this is the same with the Ripples. As you can see in the image below, it’s that nice height where you know you’ve a watch on your wrist with some presence, but not huge to be cumbersome.
I will note that like all bracelets with a folding butterfly clasp, there is no micro adjustment for the watch. This means that if you’re like me and your wrist changes size by a decent amount in the warmer weather, and mine can be between 5-10mm on any given day, then you’ll need to size the bracelet with this in mind. Wear it looser in the cooler months allowing for expansion in summer, or fitted in winter, but potentially having to add an extra link for the summer and hotter months.
The movement on the Speake-Marin Ripples is one of the talking points for this watch. Speake-Marin only produces up to 100 pieces of this particular model a year, with one of the reasons being the movement that is designed, manufactured and finished by Le Cercle des Horlogers. It’s a beautifully finished movement that rightfully is on display via the sapphire case back.
The large Geneva Stripes on the bridges and plates are fantastic, and around the cut outs that allow for the balance and gears to show through is polished bevelling around all the edges. This combined with the pearlage on the base plates really makes for a very good looking movement!
The Calibre SMA03-T is powered by the sunray finished micro rotor, giving the Ripples 52 hours of power and vibrating at 4Hz, essentially the standard these days in watches. Whist the 52 hours isn’t ground breaking, it’s plenty for this to be worn each day. The one aspect of the movement which is unusual is the way the crown winds the movement to first start the watch. Normally, you can feel the resistance as the crown winds the barrel, with that nice clicking sound. The Speake-Marin has almost none of this, with very little resistance, almost like you’re winding it the opposite way, and almost zero sound. But it does wind the barrel and kick start the watch, so works the way it is designed.
I’ve had the pleasure of wearing this piece now for a few weeks. It’s been with me to several watch events, and on my wrist across the day doing day to day activities. I have to say that it does make a nice change from my usual steel sports and divers, and as the title of this article says, added a bit of sophistication to my weekly watch rotation.
Whilst it’s only a 50m Water Resistant watch, and with no lume on the dial, it’s less sports and more dress watch in my eyes. Or if you want to look at it another way, a more classy sports watch for daytime wear, which again in a rotation or adding to a collection with a few others, will compliment this nicely.
The one thought I’ll leave you with is the price. At $36,300 AUD it’s on the higher side for many people and at this price point, the world of watches is very wide open and there are lots that can be bought for this money. Some examples that come to mind are the Chopard Alpine Eagle in two tone, or for $5,000 more, the Bulgari Octo Finissimo Titanium Skeleton, which incidentally, is the same price as this model but with the date function. But this is the joy of watch collecting, there is a piece and style for every taste, and the Speake-Marin Ripples is one watch that is refreshing in a world dominated by the larger mass luxury brands.
Reference: 60401504 – Limited to 100 pieces annually
- Case: 40.3mm, 9.2mm Thick, 48mm lug to lug (to the end links)
- Case Material: Stainless steel “La CITY” case
- Dial: Black dial with «Ripples» finishing and polished indexes. Black small second counter at 1.30. Central hours, minutes and small seconds. Heart-shaped rhodium-plated hands
- Crystal: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating inside
- Water resistance: 50 meters / 5ATM
- Movement: Calibre SMA03-T automatic movement with fully integrated micro-rotor. Hand-finished bridges, inner angles, rhodium-plated, Geneva stripes. Beating at 4Hz / 28,800 VPH
- Power reserve: 52 hours
- Bracelet/Strap: Integrated stainless-steel bracelet with stainless-steel folding buckle