In its third year exhibiting at the SIHH watch salon, Speake-Marin continued to establish its haute horlogerie bonafides with the unveiling of a unique piece that is also watch-world first: the Minute Repeater Flying Tourbillon Légèreté, which the brand tells us is the first minute repeater carillon timepiece with a case made entirely from sapphire.
“Légèreté” is the French word for “lightness,” which refers to the featherweight, three-part case, constructed in the “Picadilly” style established by brand founder and namesake Peter Speake-Marin. The bezel, caseback, and case middle are all cut from sapphire, which is an extraordinarily difficult material to work with, as it involves many hours of machining and polishing and requires the utmost care in the finishing stages since even the tiniest scratches or imperfections will be visible. The case allows a view of the movement from all sides; from the front, at 6 o’clock on the openworked dial, is the rotating cage of the flying tourbillon, supported by a paddle-shaped bridge, which makes a revolution every 60 seconds and bears the shape of Speake-Marin’s “topping tool” emblem.
The chiming mechanism of the minute repeater carillon is activated via a slider on the left side of the case. In a similar manner to that of another repeater-equipped tourbillon watch, 2017’s Crazy Skulls, the ringing of the carillon simultaneously launches a dial animation — the Roman numeral “XII” at the 12 o’clock position disintegrates at the start of the time being chimed and reconstitutes itself at the end. Among the repeater’s other highlights are a “double safety module” that allows for setting of the time while the watch is chiming, a nearly silent regulator wheel that controls the speed of the chimes without distorting their sound, and an architecture wherein the energy for the carillon is generated by its own dedicated barrel so as not to disturb the chronometry of the watch.
The minute repeater carillon uses three hammers welded to a block, creating a sound box within the sapphire case: a single hammer for the hours, all three of them together for the quarter-hours, and another single hammer for the minutes. Inside the 46.4-mm case, surrounding the movement (Caliber SMAHH-02) and swept over by blued-steel spade-shaped hands, is a flange ring engraved with words that Speake-Marin says signify the brand’s values, among them “Independent” and “Art Piece.” This unique piece is offered on an ostrich leather strap with a titanium folding buckle, with price available on demand.