Time itself is not Peter Speake-Marin’s sole obsession: he is also fascinated by its perpetual passing, its inherently elusive flow. The watchmaker had already explored this path with the Triad, a timepiece featuring three synchronous hour counters. The latter was a heresy in practical terms, but for minds that are open towards art, it represented a dizzying mise an abyme (frame-in-frame staging) of the fleeting nature of time.
Today, Speake-Marin draws a little step closer to his tantalising mirage of capturing time as it constantly vanishes into the distance ahead of him. Before even hoping to understand how it works, the observer is immediately disorientated by this one-of-a-kind “Jumping Hours” watch. Its style could be described as hovering between industrial and royal, classic and modern, hot and cold. As the popular saying goes, if you look at a work without finding any particular resemblance with another, that means it is truly original. So yes indeed, the Jumping Hours is definitely original.
Moving out of the comfort zone
Quite naturally, the gaze looks for a recognisable style. It instinctively lingers on the round case, the typically Speake-Marin pleated crown and the distinctive screwed lugs that are a signature of the Piccadilly collection. This is a natural human reflex that involves looking first and foremost for one’s comfort zone.
And yet the Jumping Hours leaves little room for this comfort zone. It takes a bold attitude to face this model. To cope with its wheels that catch and hold the gaze. To seek refuge on the blue shores of its hands in an attempt to escape from the unwelcoming cold grey nickel silver. To turn relentlessly around the dial in hope of finding an inner bezel or hour-markers to cling on to. At the end of the day, the Jumping Hours reflects a classic life lesson: only by understanding it can one conquer the innate fear of the unknown.
Destructured hour and jumping minutes
Cutting to the chase, one must admit that the Jumping Hours is… anything but a jumping hours model. Forget looking for an aperture in which the hour changes in instant jumps; there is no such thing here. The jumping elements are in fact the four blue hands at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. They jump in turn, moving one step forward every 15 minutes. Meanwhile, the central hours and minutes hands continue sweeping around the dial in the traditional manner.
The centre of the dial features four tiny openings. With every change of hour, a red dot lines up with one of these four indicators. Every 15 minutes, a circular hole next to the base of the hours hands line up with the red dot, thereby indicating that the hour has “jumped”.
So is this complicated? Not at all, merely unusual. Peter Speake-Marin forces observers to step out of their famous comfort zone and to get a handle on a destructured hours display of which the slightest movements are perceptible via this quartet of sharp-toothed wheels. Naturally, this won’t please everyone. A mature man whose instinct drives him to smooth out every trace of the passing of time (and that which remains) will be mercilessly confronted with the sense of tempus fugit that he generally tries to forget or ignore.
A remarkable work
Viewed from a horological angle, the Jumping Hours by Speake-Marin is remarkable in several ways. Firstly, because it shows that there is more than one way of materialising the famous “jumping hours” complication: instead of making the hour itself jump, all one need do is make its constituent elements – namely the minutes – jump instead.
Secondly, because it explores uncharted aesthetic territory that is nonetheless entirely consistent with the Speake-Marin world. The eponymous watchmaker is pursuing the endeavours embodied in the Triad, while carving a whole new creative furrow. The philosophy is the same but the angle is entirely different. This determination to perpetually question oneself and thus avoid adopting a self-satisfied attitude towards existing achievements is a sure sign of horological maturity.
After laying the foundations of his brand and his style, and after numerous stints of working on the commercial side of this company, Peter Speake-Marin was very keen to get back to the workbench. He is taking his seat there as watchmaker who is more mature, more balanced and more creative than ever, a fact vividly illustrated by the Jumping Hours.