WATCHESPEDIA: First year at SIHH, what are your first impressions?

Peter Speake-Marin: You know, it’s a question everybody asks. I mean, basically positive. Positioning is much better here because you’re surrounded by prevalent brands. At Basel, you’re surrounded by the world and positioning is important for clarity, so people understand what it is you’re selling, what they’re good at, pricing, quality, all those kinds of things. So, it’s very coherent.

WATCHESPEDIA: I understand.

Peter Speake-Marin: Personally, five days. Ten days is much better. I live not far from here. So I don’t have to live in a hotel or rent an apartment. So, that’s great on a personal level. The other thing is that being at SIHH, it’s in January. A year in watchmaking is really about ten months, not longer than that, and probably nine if you get rid of January because January, nobody is really ready to buy.

So, you get a head start on the year, which means that orders come in now. We can then deliver the product. People buy the product and then after the summer holidays, when everything stops again, we can then deliver a second time. So logistically, it actually just makes a lot of sense to start early, otherwise from March in Basel, we’re always playing catch up because we’re a small infrastructure. If you’re smaller, it doesn’t matter so much because it isn’t seasonal. If you’re much, much bigger, you probably have a better infrastructure and you’re powerful and you have lots of different retailers. It’s another thing. But for us, being in here makes a lot of sense.

After that, no event dictates a year. There was a time in this industry whereby people would do Basel or Geneva and it would dictate 50 or 75 percent of the year, for logical reasons. That world doesn’t exist anymore.

So, it really is the preparation that you do beforehand means the success you will have during the event, and the success of the year is the accumulated work done throughout the year. It’s just part of the process. The people who complain about it are the ones that had a very easy time. Today, we’re living in a real world. I think it’s a good thing. I think it kind of gets rid of the arrogance that you find in any industry, perhaps more so than the luxury watch industry. It keeps people honest as well and the stuff which is genuine does well.

The watches which have value, which is kind of a dirty word in watchmaking because expensive is good when in fact that isn’t really right. Does a watch have value in relation to what’s been asked for it? These things become much more relevant as well. So, I actually think that this whole shift is actually a really good thing.

WATCHESPEDIA: OK. Can you please give us an introduction to your brand? Because the audience is not familiar.

Peter Speake-Marin: So I became self-employed originally 16 years ago. I saw my first watch 15 years ago under my own banner, under Speake Marin and I have kind of a relatively new generation, though I’m one of the oldest now.


Peter Speake-Marin: A small maker that makes watches that are a representation of the individual. So that means it can be a watchmaker, an entrepreneur or whatever. So, what differentiates all of us is the people who are the founders of the companies. My watches are a reflection of me. If you go over the road to Max, that’s Max.

So, that’s one of the things which people like because it’s real. It’s honest. When you look at companies that do a rehash of a Royal Oak or a Cartier Tank or an Oyster, that’s a different business. It can be a very good business. But it’s not who we are.

WATCHESPEDIA: I understand.

Peter Speake-Marin: So really, my watches are part of or an extension of who I am as a watchmaker and possibly an entrepreneur today as well. I think that’s what’s interesting because people are kind of – OK, sweeping generalisation. One million watches from Rolex. I don’t know how many tens of thousands from Patek and Audemar and all these other companies, which are sensational companies. But people get bored of them.

But they continue to bite them. But people talk about people. People like people who are like themselves. So, if you can talk to somebody who’s actually the creator, the designer, the entrepreneur, the motivator, I mean that’s kind of fun.

Especially in your – our world as well. I mean it just kind of takes on to another level …

WATCHESPEDIA: I understand. Direct link.

Peter Speake-Marin: Yeah, it’s human. I mean whether – OK. Facebook is horrible. But it’s amazing at the same time. All of these different mediums are incredible and you can’t avoid them. You can’t market and avoid them. So, your clients are the people who market for you.

WATCHESPEDIA: And as you said …

Peter Speake-Marin: Yes. If you’re an eccentric Englishman, it works very well.

WATCHESPEDIA: What’s your current vision for the next three to five years? Where do you see yourself…

Peter Speake-Marin: It’s all a process. If you’re in the tech world, you can become a brand 12 months to two years. When you are in the luxury watch world, it takes a lifetime. I used to travel around the world. Every year, up to probably about five years ago, I would get around the world ticket because it was like 13,000 bucks for 13 – it’s less than that. For 13 flights.

What I would do is I would pay everything and go around. Then that way, you chunk everything together and I would be travelling and I would – you know, you travel in business, which is great and cheap. It was the only way to do it when you do so much flying.

Quite often, you’re sitting next to business and you’ve got like a lawyer or, I don’t know, an accountant or an owner or whatever of a company. They honestly are not interested in talking about themselves, depending on the size of the ego. But when you say that you’re a watchmaker, they’re just like, “Oh, that’s interesting!”

So, I turned it into a process where I would learn about their knowledge base. So, I would say, “Well, I worked for Roger Dubuis for a short period of time.” Maybe one in four people would have heard of. Everybody had heard of Rolex obviously and others. But then – forget about it completely.

…. Again at that point, one in two or one in three maybe. So, the reality is, this is a lifetime job so to speak. So, I’ve been doing it now – I’ve been a watchmaker for over 30 years. I have been in Speake-Marin for really eight years since I started working for other people. But it was founded 15 years ago and it just continues. I wanted to create a brand. It has an identity. It has its history. It has a founder and it continues.

There’s enough money to be made to justify it and there’s enough opportunity to be able to exploit it, and it will just continue. One way or another, it will continue.

WATCHESPEDIA: I will throw this question by asking you what would be a typical day for you then?

Peter Speake-Marin: A typical day?

WATCHESPEDIA: Yes, if there’s any.

Peter Speake-Marin: Oh gosh. I’m a true believer that routine is the thing which actually kills life, because if you do the same thing every day, you don’t actually appreciate every day. You have to live outside of your comfort zone to a degree otherwise, life just becomes inane. My life – OK. So, my life is a mixture of more and more now family because I spend too much time with them. So, I try to point it at that direction, not always effectively.

OK. A great day is when I get my bike and I cycle – OK, which is nine kilometres down, which is why it has got an electrical motor on it to get me back up, and the worse the weather, the more I like it. It can be shitty, cold, rainy, snowy and I actually like that. Nobody else gets it. But I think it’s part of like going into your comfort zone because anybody can coast down the hill. But when you have like the elements against you, you feel alive. I like that as a process.

Anybody can do a day to day job, whether you maintain an existing …

But to create something, to design something, to build something, to take an idea, that’s living. I did loads of collaborations before and I will do more in the future. When you take an idea and you make it real, that’s fantastic. That is making use of life.

So, sometimes if I get into a routine where I get on the bike or get in the car or go to work, I sit at one computer, I answer emails, and I melt. I just become – I can’t do that. I become offensive. So, every week, I go up to – our workshop is farther away from where I am, which is a commercially-designed site. So, I go up there. I go either by car, I’m not a great driver so I take the train because I need to do other things with my time.

I follow and direct the technical side. The technical side is in the process of defining itself. I travel extensively.

So, my key thing, what I end up doing is developing ideas and then executing ideas as well. There’s no average day.

WATCHESPEDIA: Brilliant, brilliant. There’s no average day. Always a new adventure.

Peter Speake-Marin: It’s kind of – I mean the days of actually getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning and finishing at 10 o’clock at night, they’re pretty much over today. I’m kind of past that. I’m also much, much older. So now it is more I start a bit later and I finish a bit earlier as well. Sometimes, I just don’t go in. It’s all a choice.

WATCHESPEDIA: Thank you for that energy.

Peter Speake-Marin: My pleasure.

WATCHESPEDIA: We’ve seen Pierce Brosnan on the other day…

Peter Speake-Marin: I met Pierce. I was a consultant on the film where he played the watchmaker. OK? It was like three years ago now, 2.5 years ago. The film was called Survivor. It went straight into iTunes and it was actually entertaining. OK? It was not the best film that was ever made but it was highly entertaining. He was brilliant in it. He played a villain and he plays a really good villain. Milla Jovovich was the main character and it was good. It was fun. It was a fun film. I touched his world, which is completely head-fucking. You shouldn’t use that particular …

You had like a three-month period of building up different sets and I built the workshop and I helped design the boutique and stuff. You do all this intense amount of work. I took all my tools out. I took them to the workshop and then you have like a hundred people in this tiny room, which is actually just like four walls and the cameras and everything above it.

Incredible intensity. All these months of preparation and you’re filming like 10 seconds over two or three days and all this stuff of which they used virtually nothing. They just used the minimum. The film is probably not more than a few minutes. Then it’s over. I went back the following day to pick up my gear. Everybody had gone. It’s really unnerving, the whole thing …

Yeah. So, I couldn’t live in that world. That’s why so many celebrities, they go off the rails because it’s just such an unnatural way to actually live, but I got to meet him and we kind of developed an immediate rapport. He a creative person. I’m a creative person. Our youngest sons are the same age and he seemed to be as excited to meet me as I was star-struck to meet him. It was just weird.

Then I get busy. I gave him a watch. He started to take pictures of them and speaking up on Instagram and I asked him, “Do you want to take it to that level?” He said, “Yeah,” which surprised me. Then we did a photo shoot in New York probably two years ago with a guy called Marco Grob who’s a top photographer. We got to know each other a little bit more.

He has the same concerns and worries as everybody else at the end of the day and as an actor, which is such a horrible – fantastic, magical and horrible at the same time, every time the film is over, you’re unemployed. He’s a survivor. He loves this. This is the model that he wears – it’s called the Resilience. It’s time to life. Aesthetics. And that’s him. So, it all kind of works very well together. He came here. His agent is as interesting as he is.

His agent represents DiCaprio, Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Bridges and she’s down-to-earth and so is he. We have these conversations and they have all these names and they’re not name-dropping. This is their daily life. They’re all people. He doesn’t have that massive ego and that …

You know, I don’t think there’s a watchmaker alive who has probably done so many different watches, made these different pieces, travelled as much and has many sort of extraordinary experiences, and that makes for a very rich life. I made a lot of fuck-ups, a lot of wrong decisions. But that’s how you learn. If you don’t do it, you don’t learn. I would still be working for Omega in Southampton, where I was like 30-ish years ago. I’ve travelled around the world. I’ve smoked with astronauts. I’ve met entrepreneurs, heads of state, politicians, ministers, actors, singers, opera singers. It’s extraordinary. It’s an extraordinary life.

WATCHESPEDIA: Yeah, nice story.

Peter Speake-Marin: It makes for an extraordinary life and I’m glad I made the mistakes because that’s how you learn as well. Nobody is there to say it’s right, it’s wrong. Everybody has an opinion. But until you do it …

WATCHESPEDIA: Then you learn it.

Peter Speake-Marin: So, I’m happy. Let’s put it that way. I still survived. I survived.

WATCHESPEDIA: Well, thank you for your energy, Peter. It was a pleasure …Thank you very much.

Peter Speake-Marin: My pleasure.