Remember the exclusive, inexpensive Speake-Marin Spirit Pioneer? It was military-inspired, utilitarian by design and a snip at just under £7000. In a bold statement to the industry, Peter Speake-Marin proved that he could produce an elementary timepiece on a budget and in a statement of his resourcefulness used stock movements to power the piece, despite the fact that he is more than capable of producing his own bespoke calibres. In a response to global economic difficulties he created a new adage to inspire "Fight, Love and Persevere" a motto which he inscribed on its caseback. Now it's back, re-named and re-designed - the Speake-Marin Spirit Mark 2.
Most notably the piece has been upsized to 42mm and at 12mm high will wear slimmer on the wrist. Of course, the essence of the original remains - the proud lugs, the playful hands, the out-size sculpted crown - all features synonymous with the watchmaker, all features worth retaining. There are subtleties too, the bezel has some circular graining and the dial features some tweaks ... but this is no ordinary dial - to produce it's white-on-black clarity first requires the creation of a 3-D mold containing all of the indications, the markers, the numerals, the railtrack as well as the logos. Black lacquer and white Super-LumiNova are then painstakingly applied. When complete, the one-piece dial is bonded onto the plate. The process may be described as "cutting-edge", but it is a technique akin to traditional Haute Horlogerie craftsmanship, with a similar degree of difficulty as enamelling. The result is an enlivenment of all the dial elements and supreme readablity.
Inside the Spirit 2 is a Technotime TT 738 automatic calibre featuring twin barrels hence the generous 5 day power reserve, a marked improvement from the "store cupboard" movements of the original piece. The inspirational message carries on, this time engraved even bolder on the caseback.
The Spirit Mark 2 is an improvement on the Spirit Pioneer in so many ways. With a new case size, suddenly we see that the proportions are now perfect, the large numerals rest easier on the wider dial, the downsized branding and "topping tool" logo are more fitting to the utilitarian styling, everything just works - better.
But when the Spirt Pioneer was presented one year ago it caused mild hubbub in the industry - here was an Master Watchmaker capable of producing tourbillons, minute repeaters and open-dialed heirloom pieces, a Master Watchmaker for whom collectors are willing to lay down their money and wait as long as it takes for their "piece unique" to be completed, suddenly producing an entry-level - albeit limited edition - barebones wristwatch. The Spirit Pioneer represented an enterprising inventiveness which, if you look for it, you will find again and again - not with the big brands, but with the Independent Watchmakers who continue to produce unique contemporary timepieces, without the constraints of a design department nor the security of a pay cheque. If you were one of the fortuitous 68 to purchase a Spirit Pioneer, then hats off - if not, then the Spirit Mark 2 is a more than worthy successor.
More information at Peter Speake-Marin's official website.
And maybe view the original Spirit Pioneer and our extensive Speake-Marin archives here.