Speake Marin Team Up With The Queensland Koala Crusaders For A Very Worthy Cause!

by Matt Clymo

Speake Marin have partnered up with the Queensland Koala Crusaders to bring us a limited edition piece with proceeds going to the worthy wildlife cause. We caught up with some of the team from the Queensland Koala Crusaders to learn more about them and how this all came about!

How often do you see one of Australia’s iconic animals on a Swiss Made watch? Or better yet, how often do you see a Koala as the main feature on a Swiss Watch? Not many I’ll bet. So when we got our hands on the Limited Edition Speake Marin Koala Art Series, we knew it had to have a special story behind it. This is a story we were fortunate enough to hear firsthand from the President of the Queensland Koala Foundation, Linda Barnes and Treasurer, David Mackenzie at last month’s Sydney International Watch Fair.

President of the Queensland Koala Crusaders, Linda Barnes, and Treasurer, David Mackenzie with the Speake Marin Koala

Speake Marin is unique in a sense from an altruistic perspective. Rather than having charities and foundations reach out to them, they reach out to worthy causes themselves, and ask for them to send a submission on the organisation and what the fund would do to help. Linda describes this process:

“Well it’s interesting. We received an email about a year and half ago from Speake Marin and they said we are a Swiss watchmaker. We make limited edition, very elegant and very exclusive watches in Switzerland and every two years we choose an endangered animal and then dedicate a limited series watch to that animal. We donate the proceeds with profits of that watch sale going to that particular organisation.”

“We found you through Google and we’re interested in what you do so if you would like to send us a little bit about yourself talk to us about what you do, how you do it why you do it, then then we’ll consider you to be the recipient of these proceeds. So we took that as a challenge and said that would be great!”

The Speake-Marin Koala Art Series piece, limited to 9 pieces worldwide

Fair to say Linda was surprised to get that email as was David, and clearly being legitimate, The Queensland Koala Crusaders jumped at the chance to be a part of this initiative. Wanting to win the grant, David and Linda set out to create a submission. According to Linda, David is the creative one:

“David is the creator of the material that we sent to Speake Marin, more of a prospectus if you will or a pitch with a story of what we do. We gave some examples of what we do, lots and lots of photographs and we also created a video called A day in the life of a Koala Carer.”

Wanting to explore this more, we asked them to elaborate on how they went about this, and Linda was happy to…

“This video centres around one of our members, a woman named Anika who has been caring for baby Joey koalas in her home for the last 12 years. We told her story with pictures, and we told her story with video, we went to her home, (and she’s a great friend anyway), but we filmed her doing what she has to do every day and it was a remarkable piece I think!”

The Speake-Marin logo as the small seconds dial at 1:30

And as they say, the rest is history, with Speake Marin loving the idea and jumping on board. Interestingly, the whole project was a secret, and Linda, David and the Board at Queensland Koala Crusaders keeping it under wraps until its announcement earlier this year.

When you look at the watch in question, it is a remarkable piece of art, and shows off the Koala in a tree beautifully. Queensland Koala Crusaders worked with Speake Marin on the piece and helped to choose the final illustration that would feature on the watch.

“Speake Marin sent us a few drawings and sketches that they had taken from photos. They settled on this one and we had to heartily agree because it hits home to me as it shows the koala looking off to the right, right sort of into its future. The koala is endangered, we know that and the future of the koala is uncertain, so I loved the fact that the koala is placed on the left side of the dial looking out, away from its perch“, Linda explains.

The detailing on the hand painted Koala is amazing up close.

Linda went on to explain that the image also has another special meaning for them. And this was something we didn’t know either. When koalas are released into the wild after having been in care, they’ll climb the first tree that they find but they will always, look back at their people before they ascend the tree.

“So this image is really kind of representative to me about that gesture”

Linda Barnes, QLD koala foundation president

The watch itself is really a wearable piece of time-telling art, as Linda describes it. Part of Speake Marin’s “Art Series” and cased in their new generation Piccadilly case in Grade-5 titanium, it’s a piece that does tell an important story. With only 9 pieces available, three in 38mm and six in 42mm, the koala on the dial is the centre piece. With Speake Marin’s loveheart-shaped hands and the Speake Marin logo at the 1:30 position rotating around (where the seconds sub-dial would normally be), you can tell it’s Speake Marin with a difference.

The lovehart hands, typical of Speake-Marin

Flipping the watch over, you can see the movement craftsmanship in the Calibre SMA03 automatic movement with fully integrated micro-rotor. Typical to Speake Marin, the Côates de Genève on the plates and bridges, with the Speake Marin logo in Rose Gold above the micro rotor. On the sapphire glass, Speake Marin has added the Queensland Koala Crusaders logo on the back, indicating it’s a special piece.

The Calibre SMA03 Movement of the Speake-Marin Koala

Talking about the watch itself with Linda and David, they have an interesting take on the alignment between a luxury Swiss watch brand and an eco-charity.

“When Speake Marin came to us and said we’d like to work with you, we’d like to partner with you I thought, ‘I honestly don’t get the connection between watches and conservation’, but what I am learning is that there is a connection. This watch for example is made from recycled nylon and the back of the strap leather is made from corn. This watch speaks to conservation and ecology and the fact that each watch that’s made, the manufacturer who makes it has ingenuity behind it, it has integrity behind it, has innovation behind it, and isn’t that what we’re all trying to do as conservationists anyway?”

Linda goes on to speak about whilst Speake Marin, and any watchmaker for that matter, and ecology are not necessarily the same and exist for different reasons, both are trying to make a positive difference.

“We’re trying to find new and interesting ways to save our planet so if there are other watch manufacturers out there that are interested in getting into conservation causes, that’s one way to do it. To talk about what you have in common.” David reiterates this and why a partnership like this is important.

“I think for me the significance of this particular watch and the relationship that we find ourselves in with Speake Marin is that what they have effectively done is put the plight of Koala on the world stage. So here’s this beautiful timepiece that sends a message right around the world as to what’s happening with koalas and to me that’s that’s the big deal!”

David Mackenzie proudly holding the Speake Marin Koala

With a lot of watch brands out there now getting into the conservation space, it’s good to see a brand like Speake Marin looking at unique causes and putting its money where its mouth is to help these smaller organisations out there. There are many brands out there that are doing their bit, like using recycled materials in the watches and boxes and focusing on large-scale initiatives like the ocean, and Speake Marin is doing this as well. But choosing locally based, small charities and donating the profits of these special pieces, Speake Marin aim to make more of a difference at a grassroots level.

On one last note, we touch on what Linda and David would say to people new to watches out there, who may not know much about higher-end Swiss pieces and why they should consider them:

“We think our key message would be to open your minds and have a look at the kinds of craftsmanship that’s happening in the watch industry. These manufacturers are niche manufacturers of watches and these are not just utility pieces, pieces like this are a wearable work of art. We think the Australian watch-buying public, coming from people who really never thought about this kind of piece before, this kind of art and artisanal creation, this is something that everybody would want to take a look at because this is the way to set yourself apart, and isn’t that what we all want to do, we want to be unique?”

Yes, would be our assumption. Australia is still an emerging watch market, and not quite as mature as in Europe or the US, and we’re starting to see more and more appreciation and gravitation towards independents like Speake Marin. It helps as well when brands actively get involved in Australia, showcase their pieces, and generate interest here. Not to mention if they partner with a worthy cause such as the Queensland Koala Crusaders. And in a final word from Linda and David…

We are obviously very honoured to be the recipients but it’s the message that is able to be delivered all over the world and that’s a big deal for us!

If you want to find out more about the Queensland Koala Crusaders, then head to their site – www.koalacrusaders.org.au where you can get involved, donate and support.

Reference: ref 413817420 (38mm) or 414217420 (42mm)


  • Case: 38 or 42mm, both 10.5mm thick
  • Case Material: Grade 5 Titanium “Piccadilly” case
  • Dial: Micro painting Koala dial in green, gradient lacquer with rotating topping tool. Central hours, minutes and small seconds at 1:30.
  • Crystal: Domed anti-reflective, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal
  • Water Resistance: 30m (3ATM)
  • Movement: Calibre SMA03 automatic movement with fully integrated micro-rotor. Beating at 4Hz / 28,800 VpH
  • Power Reserve: 52 hours
  • Strap: Green PET recycled nylon bracelet. Interior in brown leather (corn based). Titanium folding buckle

Australian Recommended Retail Pricing: Approx $50,600 (38mm) / $51,320 (42mm)

Availability: For availability, please reach out to Hardy Brothers Australia via HardyBrothers.com.au

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