British watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin brought his eponymous, independent watch brand to the SIHH for the first time this year, using the Geneva watch salon as the launchpad for the brand’s most complicated models yet: the Crazy Skulls are two unique pieces that combine a 60-second tourbillon, a minute repeater carillon, and a clever, Memento Mori-themed dial animation.
Speake-Marin — which first placed a skull on a watch dial 10 years ago, on the Cabinet des Mystères model — says that the Crazy Skulls tell “a story of two souls linked through death by a heart.” The heart in question is formed by the intersection of the two skulls on the dial (black on one watch, gray on the other), framing a red gem in the center of the hidden tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock. When the slider on the left side of the case is activated, the chimes of the minute repeater carillon sound while another mechanism simultaneously separates the two skulls to reveal the tourbillon. At the same moment, the Roman numerals at the 12 o’clock position begin to fall apart, representing the despair of two (deceased?) lovers as their world falls apart. When the three gongs of the repeater have completed the sounding of the time, the skulls re-form the heart, hiding once again the tourbillon, as the numerals rebuild themselves to their standing “XII” position.
The animated dance of the skulls was inspired by Peter Speake-Marin’s fascination with the Medieval Latin Memento Mori concept, which reflects on the nature of mortality and reminds its adherents that life is short and that death is the great equalizer of us all. Translating literally to “Remember you must die,” Memento Mori has long been associated with the imagery of skulls.
The cases of both Crazy Skulls, in Speake-Marin’s now-familiar “Piccadilly” style, measure 42 mm in diameter, with the case middle and lugs made of grade 5 titanium and bezel and caseback made of platinum. The etched double skulls on the skeletonized dials are made of aluminum. The hands, in heat-blued steel, are executed in a classical style common to Speake-Marin watches.
The watches are powered by an all-new movement, manual-winding Caliber SMC01, which features a 72-hour power reserve and a hand-finished tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock. The lower tourbillon cage is supported by a paddle-shaped bridge that is designed to offer visual access to the surrounding gears below it. Visible through the clear sapphire caseback are the bridges and mainplate, with circular graining, polished screw heads and polished countersinks. Both unique pieces are on black alligator straps with gold pin buckles, and priced a $414,000.