There is horology, and there is art. And sometimes there is both. The first popular culture reference to skulls in recent times can probably be traced to Damien Hirst and his diamond-covered skull; I was struck by a sense of déjà-vu when viewing this watch for the first time. But there actually was not one, but two diamond-covered skulls. I have to admit, this watch was making me feel a little uncomfortable. We’ll come back to this in a minute.
Dial aside, the rest of the watch is classic Peter Speake-Marin: a chunky 950 platinum Piccadilly case with thick, straight lugs terminating in oversized screwed bars; aviator crown; vertically sided caseband. All in platinum, of course – as befitting a piece unique. Aside from the hands, the initial aesthetic of the watch is one of being visually ‘light’ – thanks to the various textures and reflective surfaces on the upper portions of the watch.
The only counterpoint to this are the oversized blued hands, which are beautifully finished and curve gracefully, complimenting the organic lines of the skull. It’s actually a good thing that the rest of the dial is light and reflective, as this only serves to further highlight the beautiful shade of blue of the hands. Another nice touch is the antireflective coating on the crystal; I can’t imagine the watch without it given the dial contents!
Personally, I think the real treasure lies around the back. Flip the watch over, and one’s first impression is that the German silver movement plates have also been covered in diamonds – fortunately, that is not the case. Instead, they are completely covered in elegant swirls – the effect somehow brings to mind a mad Lange engraver who has gone to town on not only the balance cock, but the entire movement.
Powering the Diamond Skulls is Speake-Marin’s SM2 handwind movement; there is nothing complicated about the layout or mechanics, but it is beautifully executed. The arcing bridges are a nice change from the conventional, too. There are a lot of nice details on this movement: the enormous barrel jewel that looks like an eye; the cutout for the great wheel; a beautiful swanneck regulator; separate name-plate-bridge, and a rather unusual barrel click design. This results in some strange winding feedback – it’s smooth but has a little resistance and tooth to it.
Finishing, of course, is absolutely first class all over. Even examining the components under 40-50x magnification, surface polish, cleanliness, edge evenness etc are all clean and uniform. This is most impressive indeed. If this watch were mine, I’d get Speake-Marin to case it upside down, or at least wear it that way.
Back to the skulls. I’m done photographing the movement; when I flip it over, the heads are no longer jarring but somehow sad and happy at the same time; maybe it’s the angle of their tilt and the smiling tooth-line. And the polish of the eye-sockets reflects the underside of the blued hands in a liquid flowing pool of white gold.
You know something, I think the skulls are growing on me.
A big thanks to the generous collector for allowing me to photograph this piece.