Spirit Seafire: The First Speake-Marin Chronograph (UPDATE: Price)
Peter Speake-Marin has some pretty stunning watches under his belt… some great complications, too. But as of recently, the mainstay of the independent watch manufacture scene, Speake-Marin, had yet to produce a chronograph. Thankfully, with Baselworld 2014 just around the corner, the brand has announced the Speake-Marin Spirit Seafire, the first-ever Speake-Marin chronograph. And, it’s lovely.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve changed the format of TickTickVroom a bit. I’m no longer trying to cover every bit of news that comes my way. I’m focusing more on first-hand roadtests, watch reviews and historical deep-dives and things that may be of interest beyond just the next version of the Mazda3. As the first Speake-Marin chronograph, the Speake-Marin Spirit Seafire certainly qualifies.
While this may be the innaugural Speake-Marin chronograph, the Spirit Seafire looks undeniably Speake-Marin. With the trademarked screwed lugs, oversized spade-hands and large crown, it’s hard to believe the Spirit Seafire hasn’t been a part of the Speake-Marin collection for years.
I’ve been reading a fair amount about this watch on the (*ahem) other watch sites, and I’ve noticed there is a bit of controversy regarding the Speake-Marin Spirit Seafire’s matte black dial. Some say the Speake-Marin chronograph’s heavily luminova’d dial with it’s three registers (Topping Tool seconds at the 9, minutes at the 12 and hours at the 6 o’clock position) and date window at the 3 is unnecessarily cluttered. While others say that the dial sitting atop the 25-jewel, 28,800 vibrations per hour caliber C99001-D movement is perfectly clear and orderly.
Personally, I side with with latter. There is a bit of flair and design to this dial while maintaining the legibility of the old-school military watches that seem to have inspired Peter Speake-Marin when designing the Spirit Seafire. I like it… especially the matte black and white finish. The color scheme of the dial and skeleton hands pairs rather nicely with the polished grade 5 titanium 42 mm case, crown and pushers and hand-made brown leather strap. Speake-Marin can keep the optional NATO strap by Suigeneric, though.
Flip the watch over, and the Spirit Seafire is even more a Peter Speake-Marin piece with the Spirit collection’s motto “Fight, Love & Persevere” and requisite Topping Tool logo engraved on the solid caseback. The first-ever Speake-Marin Chronograph, the Speake-Marin Spirit Seafire will be officially unveiled next month at Baselworld. So, more details should be forthcoming. Until then, check out the tech specs and press release below.
[UPDATE: Price on the Speake-Marin Spirit Seafire is about $8,973 (CHF 7,900).]
Speake-Marin Spirit Seafire: First Speake-Marin Chronograph Technical Specifications
Features and indications
- Central hours and minutes
- Chronograph: Elapsed central seconds; elapsed minutes; elapsed hours
- Date window at 3 o’clock
- Highly legible, three-dimensional dial
- ‘Topping tool’ seconds wheel flush with dial
- 42mm titanium Piccadilly case
- Spirit motto “Fight, Love & Persevere” engraved on caseback
Dial and hands
- Skeletonised ‘Foundation’ hour and minute hands in polished German silver, black PVD-treated
- Central chronograph elapsed seconds hand, black PVD-treated
- Chronograph elapsed minutes subdial at 12 o’clock featuring ‘Spirit’ Arabic numerals
- Chronograph elapsed hours subdial at 6 o’clock featuring ‘Spirit’ Roman numerals
- All hands featuring hand-filled white Super-LumiNova tips
- ‘Topping tool’ seconds wheel, hand-lacquered white at 9 o’clock
- Matte black resin base dial
- White dial elements in Super-LumiNova, in 3D relief and inset into dial
- Calibre C99001-D
- Automatic-winding mechanical movement featuring two-pusher chronograph and date
- Single barrel
- Frequency: 28,800vph / 4Hz
- Power reserve: 48 hours
- Number of jewels: 25
- Height: 7.9mm
Case and strap
- 42 mm Piccadilly case in polished, grade 5 titanium with straight-grained caseband
- Polished grade 5 titanium chronograph pushers at 2 o’clock (start/stop) and 4 o’clock (reset)
- Dimensions: 42mm x 15mm
- Screwed lugs
- 3-position crown: manual winding, rapid date change and hacking seconds
- Spirit motto “Fight, Love and Persevere” engraved on caseback
- Front sapphire crystal treated with anti-reflective coating
- Water resistance: 3atm/30m/100ft
- Hand-made brown leather strap
- Hand-waxed cotton NATO strap by Suigeneric available (sold separately)
- Pin buckle in titanium; folding buckle available (sold separately)
Speake-Marin Spirit Seafire Chronograph Press Release
Presenting the Spirit Seafire
The Spirit Seafire is Speake-Marin’s first ever chronograph. High-contrast
Super-LumiNova on all indications, including the date, makes for superb legibility both day and night, while the titanium case ensures comfortable wearing.
First solo flight. First carrier landing. First mission. While most ‘firsts’ happen in our formative years, luckily there are still a few personal milestones left for us to enjoy as fully-fledged grown-ups.
English watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin has been creating mechanically superlative, aesthetically distinctive high-end timepieces out of his atelier in Switzerland for over a decade. In this time, the Speake-Marin collection has grown to include complications such as jumping hours, perpetual calendars, tourbillons and minute repeaters. But no chronograph – until now.
The Spirit Seafire is Speake-Marin’s first ever chronograph. In addition to its chronograph counters (central elapsed seconds; elapsed minutes subdial at 12 o’clock; elapsed hours subdial at 6 o’clock), it features central hours and minutes; date at 3 o’clock; seconds wheel at 9 o’clock in the form of the Speake-Marin ‘topping tool’ logo; and signature Piccadilly case in polished grade 5 titanium with straight-grained sides.
The Seafire’s three-dimensional hour markers, minute chapter ring, chronograph subdials, date and tips of the hands are all in a bright white Super-LumiNova that contrasts superbly against the matte black dial. The white Super-LumiNova glows an atmospheric green in the dark, creating an exceptionally legible display, both day and night.
“I have always wanted a chronograph to bear the Speake-Marin name,” says Peter Speake-Marin. “It was just a matter of finding the right platform. The Speake-Marin Spirit collection struck me as the perfect environment.
“I felt I could harness the Spirit’s casual style and clean aesthetics to create a highly original chronograph design. A chronograph is also in keeping with the Spirit’s military inspiration – and that’s why I have christened it the Seafire, after the iconic plane formerly deployed by the British navy to protect its fleet.”
The Seafire: A first for Speake-Marin, a first for the Royal Navy
The Spirit Seafire is the first Speake-Marin chronograph and its name is fitting since it is inspired by another ‘first’ – one from the sphere of aviation – the Supermarine Seafire. The Seafire was the first modern carrier-based airplane fielded by the British Royal Navy to protect its fleet when it debuted in 1942. The Seafire was, in essence, a seaborne version of Supermarine’s Spitfire – Seafire was a contraction of ‘Sea Spitfire’ – and the two aircraft shared many design features including an elliptical wing shape.
A casual aura, high legibility and refined display make the Seafire an unmistakable Spirit
The Speake-Marin Spirit inhabits a masculine world inspired by the British military where you can practically smell the heady blend of high-octane aviation fuel and the sweat of nervous anticipation. While dress code can be casual – the Spirit looks just as good with a flight suit as with formal attire – courage is essential…
The Spirit Seafire is a chronograph for conducting your missions with military precision, down to the second. The white-on-black indications are highly legible during the day; their green glow in the dark gives perfect visibility during a night flight.
Peter Speake-Marin has put considerable thought into optimising the Seafire’s legibility. Not only has he skeletonised the central Speake-Marin signature ‘Foundation’ hour and minute hands, but he has also designed the counterweight of the central chronograph elapsed seconds hand as an open circle. Such design features ensure clear, unobstructed views of the chronograph counters.
It is rare to see Roman numerals feature on chronograph counters, but here Peter has used them for the subdial at 6 o’clock. This touch of refinement echoes the other models in the collection and helps to distinguish elapsed hours from the elapsed minutes in Arabic numerals at 12 o’clock.
And the Seafire would not be a Spirit without Peter Speake-Marin’s rousing call-to-action “Fight, Love & Persevere” engraved on the solid caseback. It isn’t just the Spirit motto – it’s a way of life.
Sophisticated dial composition
Seconds can be monitored via the circular cut-out in the white-lacquered ‘topping tool’ wheel at 9 o’clock – set flush with the dial – as it passes by a vertical Super-LumiNova white line. This line is set into the surface, as are the Speake-Marin name and chapter ring railroad-tracks, while the Roman and Arabic numerals as well as the hour and minute indicators are in three-dimensional Super-LumiNova, creating a multi-level dial profile.
To create the Seafire’s dial, a three-dimensional mould of the multi-level dial elements was produced to make a negative mould in which lacquer and Super-LumiNova masks were successively applied by hand, ensuring the correct materials and colours were in the right places. When set, the one-piece dial face was removed from the mould and bonded to the dial plate.
The Seafire: Robust, reliable and ready for battle
When the heat is on and the chips are down, the Spirit Seafire comes up trumps in both performance and attitude, thanks to its workhorse integrated chronograph movement. Automatic winding and a 48-hour power reserve ensure there’s always enough energy on tap for even the most testing conditions.
As the first Speake-Marin chronograph, the Spirit Seafire required a new Piccadilly case. Polished pushers gleaming at 2 o’clock (start/stop) and 4 o’clock (reset), bear testament to the complication within, while the bezel has been raised to accommodate the additional hands. The three-position fluted crown enables manual winding, rapid date change and hacking seconds. And for added protection, Peter Speake-Marin has set the crown slightly into the caseband.
The Speake-Marin Spirit Seafire is available with a grade 5 titanium case.