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Peter Speake-Marin reviews his business model

Peter Speake-Marin reviews his business model

Tuesday, 01 February 2011
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Christophe Roulet
Editor-in-chief, HH Journal

“The desire to learn is the key to understanding.”

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3 min read

Exclusivity is a non-negotiable principle for Peter Speake-Marin, including when the master watchmaker announces his intention to up production. A means of financing his ambition to make complication watches, the Speake-Marin way.

Last autumn, Peter Speake-Marin presented his second watch, the Marin 2 Thalassa that would take him round the world. Interview.

What made you leave your workbench for your latest watch?

Simply to visit the people who retail or collect my watches and show them my latest work. This “world tour” was initially scheduled over four weeks but actually lasted over four months, there was so much demand from so many quarters. I can honestly say I’ll never embark on such a trip again, but in terms of promoting my watches, meeting my customers and taking the market temperature, it was an extremely positive experience. If you consider the competitive environment we’re in, watchmakers such as myself can no longer afford to skip the marketing, but because I don’t have the means to use the traditional channels, I have to find a different approach. The travelling was one aspect of this, as are ventures based on new technologies. So while this was too long a trip, it was a profitable one as I sold 20 watches.

What is it that makes these sales happen?

My watches are different. I imagine, design and create the movement with its every component, the entire exterior from case to dial and hands, in a style that is contemporary with classical inspiration. A lot of companies draw on the past for the values they inscribe in existing models, but the watchmakers behind these pieces are now gone. I’m still here. I represent a new type of watchmaker who is the living embodiment of their product and what it represents. Also, nobody knows my watches better than I do. Virtually every one of my customers is a collector who is extremely knowledgeable about watchmaking. I can tell them what they want to know. In this respect, meeting people face to face has no price and I’ll certainly continue in this vein, although not for such a long time!

What about production?

The Thalassa series will be a limited edition of 30, to which we can add orders for one-off pieces and some with the same movement but a completely different dial. The Marin 1 isn’t a limited edition but I still have to produce ten of the 50 that were initially planned. So this year we’ll finish this first series and make the Marin 2 watches for which we already have orders. And leave time for future projects.

Which are?

To lay the foundations for the future of Speake-Marin so that the brand can fulfil the ambitious ideas I have. Whereas I started out with “simple” three-hand watches, the concepts I’m developing for the future will require major investments. Hence I need to develop business which means producing more. Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not talking mass production, on the contrary, but to go from the current hundred or so watches a year to several hundred while maintaining the very exclusive nature of a Speake-Marin watch. It’s also about greater diversity. If all goes well, I’ll be presenting Marin 3 in Basel. Of course, as soon as you start with complications, you’re looking at two to five years’ development to reach a degree of reliability and finish bordering on perfection. These are two notions where there can be no compromise and the very basis of my philosophy.

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