Hands-on with the Speake-Marin Spirit Pioneer

Peter Speake-Marin unveiled the Spirit Pioneer a few weeks ago at SalonQP. Housed in a 38 mm steel Piccadilly case, the Spirit Pioneer is Peter’s entry level timepiece with a retail price of CHF9800, making it a compelling proposition. Though the design elements are not unusual in themselves, the sum of the parts is a highly distinctive watch.

One notable feature of the dial is the thick luminous indices and markers that impart a good sense of depth to what is otherwise a flat dial. Everything on the dial is large enough to be striking but not so large as to look comical. They glow beautifully in the dark as well. 

But the thickness of the indices also means the hands have to sit fairly high above the dial, which results in a less precise look.

The case is a standard Piccadilly, which at 38 mm might seem small, but the length of the lugs and thickness give it presence on the wrist, especially when combined with the dial. Peter’s cases often look chunky because of the diameter to height ratio, but the proportions fit the design perfect in the Spirit Pioneer.

Inside sits an ETA based calibre modified by Speake-Marin, with a topping tool-shaped rotor. Not extraordinary mechanically but nicely executed; notice the anglage and polish of the rotor for example.

The Spirit Pioneer offers a unusually accessible entry into the world in independent watchmaking. That is even more attractive given that Peter’s watches are typically far more pricey, like the Thalassa for instance. Unsurprisingly all 68 pieces have been spoken for, according to Peter, but this is the first in a series with the next one to come in 2012. – SJX

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