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Friday, January 18, 2013

Watch of the Year 2012: Speake-Marin 'Spirit' Mark II

The watchloving Passion Watchmaking forum organised an inaugural election of a watch to be recognised by its members as "Watch of the Year".  A committee of members freely selected 15 watches presented to the public in 2012, then submit them to a vote of all members.

Although an entry level timepiece, this beautiful watch from Peter Speake-Marin scooped first prize. It’s likely to be found only on the most exclusive and horologically informed of wrists. It has a power reserve of five days or 120 hours compared to the 42 hours of the first Spirit, this is possible thanks to the automatic movement TT738 developed by Speake-Marin.

The case is hand-finished with a circular grained bezel, emphasising the raw, modern look of the watch which is usually polished. This finishing enhances the contemporary style for which the Spirit is known. 

The 42 mm stainless steel case is bigger than the former Spirit which was only 38 mm however it is less thick. The caseback is now full and just like the Spirit, engraved with “Fight, Love & Persevere” an inspirational motto from Peter Speake-Marin.

The votes of members of Passion Watchmaking voted the Speake-Marin"Spirit" Mark II as winner with 26% of votes.

Pure logic: Romain Gauthier Logical One

Romain Gauthier’s dazzling Logical One tour de force of a watch, starts from a sound point of logic. Romain recognised that the principles of constant force should apply to watches just as they apply to cars, planes and other machines.

After all, the vast majority of machines run on constant force: Cars and planes don’t start running slower as fuel runs low and machines receive the same voltage no matter how much electricity is produced.

Constant force is one of the holy grails of horology and with Logical One, Romain Gauthier has reinvented the chain-and-fusee − one of the oldest and most traditional methods of supplying constant force to a watch/clock movement − making it more reliable, more effective - and more constant.

Accordingly, Logical One features a triple patent-pending Romain Gauthier flat chain-and-fusee style constant force system with ruby chain links, ergonomic push button winding system, dial-side visible balance, a mainspring barrel with sapphire inserts, plus a 60-hour power reserve indicator.

Traditional chain and fusee

Fusees have been used since 15th century to improve timekeeping by compensating for the diminishing torque/power of the mainspring as it ran down.

The first fusees used fine cord; however, as technology enabled the manufacture of ever-smaller chains, these replaced cords because chains transmit power more efficiently. But the traditional chain and fusee has two inherent problems:

1. The multiple layers of chain (often eight turns) on the fusee mean that the individual links have to be small, which means that they are relatively weak.

2. The chain is often transmitting force between the fusee and mainspring barrel at an angle, which is both inefficient and adds stress.

Replacing the fusee with a snail cam

Romain solved both problems by replacing the fusee with a slowly rotating snail cam, which is situated at 10 o’clock to the left of the hour/minutes dial.

As the snail cam and mainspring barrel are on the same level, the force is always transmitted in a straight line and, as only one short line of chain is needed, the links can be bigger and stronger.

Ruby chain (patent pending)

To further improve efficiency, Romain has taken full advantage of the larger chain links by making the links in low-friction hard-wearing synthetic rubies.

And there is yet another innovation in the construction of the chain itself.

Romain Gauthier has replaced the traditional method of joining chain links, by placing a fine sheet of paper between the links and connecting plates, riveting them together and burning the paper away to create a fine (though imprecise) tolerance, with a snap clip system that offers high-precision, simplicity, reliability and consistency.


Winding with ergonomic pusher 

Romain Gauthier’s Logical One features an innovative push button winding system, with the pusher set neatly into the left caseband. Based on sound engineering principles, a traditional crown is relative small with a fine (relatively fragile) stem that has to transmit the force 90° between the crown  to the  mainspring barrel. The pusher to wind Logical One transmits force to the barrel on the same plane.

Mainspring barrel with sapphire lining


In a traditional brass barrel, the metal of the spring scratches the metal, even when freshly greased. Over time, grease clots, scratches get rougher, the barrel sticks to the spring and does not rotate smoothly. To eliminate this potential source of uneven friction, Romain has placed the mainspring of Logical One between synthetic sapphire plates.  Sapphire has the ideal properties of having a low coefficient of friction with steel – which is why watch movements have ruby bearings – and is highly scratch resistant.

Movement & finishing

The movement for Logical One was conceived, developed, designed, produced, decorated, assembled and regulated entirely in-house by Manufacture Romain Gauthier.

Highly polished sharp internal bevelled angles in the movement plates and bridges are the hallmark of superlative hand finishing because, to date, machines are not capable of milling and polishing sharp internal bevels. 

With Logical One, Romain Gauthier has gone a step further still in creating double-angle bevels with sharp internal angles, which give the effect of border. 

A world of logical details

•    Bespoke gear wheels with graceful circular arms for maximum rigidity
•    Special power-process hand frosted bridges
•    High efficiency gear teeth profile (patent pending)
•    Polished screw heads with distinctive S-slot for more length/less slip
•    Balance wheel with curved arms and calibrated eccentric weights
•    Triangular pallet lever (Romain Gauthier invention) for improved rigidity.


Features: hours, minutes, small seconds, 3-day power reserve, push-button winding and innovative chain-and-fusee style constant force system

Case and strap
Case materials: red gold or platinum
Movement plates and bridges: titanium, stainless steel, brasst
Dimensions: 43mm x 14.2mm
Water resistance: 50m /5 atm / 150’
Sapphire crystal with anti-reflection coat front and display back
Winding by push button at 9 o’clock
Time-setting crown with sapphire cabochon at 2 o’clock
Strap and buckle: alligator leather hand-stitched in Switzerland with pin buckle in metal to match the case.

In-house manufacture movement calibre
Dimensions: 35.5mm x 10.5mm
Power reserve: 60-hours
Number of jewels: 30 in movement, 34 for chain
Number of components: 333
Balance frequency: 28,800 bph / 4Hz
Highest level haute horlogerie finishing, including hand polished screws and jewel countersinks; hand bevelled and polished bridges and plates.
Three patents pending

About Romain Gauthier

Born in 1975 in Le Sentier, in the picturesque VallĂ©e de Joux, at the heart of fine Swiss watchmaking, Romain developed a passion for traditional haute horlogerie blended with clean, contemporary design and innovative micro-engineering.  After studying precision-mechanics, Romain started his first job as machine programmer/operator and over the ensuing years, managed and grew the department into one of the best - equipped and most efficient production facilities in Europe.

Determined to create his own watch brand, Romain completed an MBA in 2002. His final thesis – passed with distinction – was the business plan for Montres Romain Gauthier. He then began work on the timepieces themselves. "I knew that a good movement was the basis of everything I planned to build, so I started with that." In 2005, after three years of working in secret, Romain launched his brand in Baselworld 2007 with the Prestige HM, featuring his own in-house manufacture movement. The  Prestige HMS followed in 2010 and Logical One in 2013.

Visit the Romain Gauthier website

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