Let me begin this article by saying that I have known Peter Speake-Marin – who recently launched Stoic World watches — for 16 years, ever since he founded his own eponymous brand, Peter Speake-Marin. I have talked with him year after year, watched him grow as both a watchmaker and as a person. I recall so many of his stories, adventures, and even misadventures incredibly clearly because Peter Speake-Marin has a way of communicating that borders on philosophizing. He is calm, accepting, and has an unquenchable thirst to learn and grow – from the inside out. Of course, being British, he has the typical British sense of humor that resonates magnificently with his personality. His thinking is definitely “outside of the box” – and that is evident by the many incredible haute horology timepieces he has built over his career that are not classics in the formal sense, but rather, are divergent with classic undertones. After departing from his own brand, in 2017 Speake-Marin unveiled an incredible educational project online: The Naked Watchmaker. On The Naked Watchmaker platform, he showcases – in incredible detail – a variety of top watches and movements via video and words. Earlier this year, he also announced his newest project: Stoic World Watches.
When he announced the line – calling it Stoic World — I can’t say I was surprised at all by the name. It suited his personality and outlook on life perfectly. However, like many others out there aware of the Peter Speake-Marin brand and the luxury timepieces he built while at that brand (today known only as Speake-Marin), I was surprised by the watches – or at least by the price point: $290-$490. What? The first thing that ran through my mind was that he must have a non-compete clause. He may not be allowed to make high-end watches yet. After reflecting on that, however, I realized that couldn’t be the case. There was something else behind this.
So, when Peter reached out to me many months ago to inform me of the Stoic World project, before the news hit the watch world, I greedily accepted his offer to wear (for a few weeks) and review each of the first three watches in the Stoic World collection. More importantly, I had several long heart-to-heart conversations with him about the collection. The light bulb went off.
The Stoic World collection is not about the watches; it is about the philosophy of Stoicism. If you judge these watches based only on what Peter has done before, you are making an epic mistake. Mind you, having worn these watches, the quality and value inherent in them is exceptional, as you will see as you read on. However, the Stoic World brand is more about a heart-felt message than a watch.
“The approach is very different from anything I have developed before and have previously been associated with,” says Speake-Marin. “A few years ago I started reading American Tim Ferriss’s books and listening to his podcasts. One of his subjects was of Stoicism; he would often recite part of ‘Letters from a Stoic’ by Seneca, which I found refreshing, and grounding amongst the constant bombardment of information we experience in the digital age. Stoic timepieces were born because of words, and in part because of this introduction to Seneca. Most brands are born from an innovative technology or design concept. This one is born from a combination of a philosophy and a desire to share a passion for watchmaking. This may be why these watches have been received with such strong polarized opinions.”
Essentially, Stoicism is a philosophical concept founded 300 BC in Greece and revolves around the principle that individual happiness is based on temperance and detachment, achieved through reason. Put another way: happiness or contentment comes from self-control achieved by a desire for a high level of perfection.
With this concept in mind, Peter Speake Marin developed Stoic World watches as rational, robust timepieces that work for any lifestyle. They are classic, timeless and top quality for their price range. Additionally, on the caseback of each of the Stoic watches (whether they are closed or exhibition casebacks), the words of Stoicism philosopher Seneca are etched or engraved: “Nothing is ours except time.” Translated by Peter, “Without time we have nothing.”
On June 18, 2018, when the official launch of the Stoic World website and Stoic watches went live, many people shook their heads in disbelief. Looking only at the watches and the price point, the watch community was abuzz with those polarizing opinions Peter mentions. Hopefully, now, you have a much clearer idea of Peter’s vision for Stoic World.
But let’s not kid ourselves, these are watches that are being sold on line via the Stoic World website, and naturally Peter, and his partners (watch collectors who believe in the concept yet remain in the background), would like to see the brand succeed. As such, the watches – like the Stoic philosophy – need to exude a look and feel that generates confidence in the quality and brand positioning. So, to the watches.
Stoic World Watches
From design to development, production and even distribution, Stoic World watches are well thought out. The first three watches in the series are a $290 Chronograph, inspired by classic designs with a panda style dial (with black subdials at 3:000, 6:00, and 9:00 on the white dial) and racing car influences, a $390 Pilots watch that is aesthetically simple and easy to read thanks to its Arabic numerals and sword shaped hands, and a $490 Sports watch, inspired by diving watches of the 1950’s and ’60’s.
Designed for every day use by everyday people, the Stoic World watches are made by Seiko Instruments according to the exacting specifications of Peter Speake-Marin and Seiko Instruments. Created in surgical grade 316L stainless steel that is hypoallergenic, the watches feature sapphire crystals with anti-reflective treatment, Geneva stripes on the automatic rotor, specific case finishing and either stainless steel bracelets with brushed links, or Italian leather straps with deployment buckles and quick-release systems.
The watches are sold with a two-year warranty and extra straps are available for purchase, as well. The retail price of the watches includes shipping.
My Impressions of Stoic World Watches
I wore each watch for a couple of weeks, and I have to say that I am impressed with the quality and the classic looks. Granted, the Pilots watch and the Chronograph – from a distance – could be any brand’s watch. There is nothing that screams “Stoic World” individuality except the concept that they are utilitarian, functional, classically designed and well defined. Their style is dictated by history and by function.
I love that the watches – which are at a price point that would have mineral crystals on most watches – have anti-reflective sapphire crystals. It makes reading them on a day filled with sunshine so much easier. On the Chronograph and the Sports watch (my personal favorite), the indexes are applied – giving the dial depth and dimension. The attention to detail is carried through on each timepiece, with the Stoic World logo etched on the crown, and a screwed caseback to ensure water resistance to 100 meters (I did take these watches in the water with me). I also liked the fact that when I turned the watch over, I was reminded “Nothing is ours, except Time.” Each morning that I put on a Stoic World watch, I thought about what I was going to do with my time that day. It made me more aware when I seemed to be wasting time – wanting to fill each moment with something I really wanted to do.
I really love the 38mm Panda-dial quartz Chronograph with black tachymeter bezel (with white numerals) and steel bracelet with butterfly clasp because it has a great ergonomic feel and a cool, fully coordinated look. It is classic, timeless and easy to wear – making no excuses for its evergreen appearance. Similarly, the automatic Pilot’s watch with chocolate brown dial, date at 3:00 and bold strap with double-bolt accents has a clean and sophisticated look. However, this watch was my least favorite. While the brown dial and great bolted strap are appealing, the watch just fell short compared to the others. (Could it be that I am not a fan of pilot watches?)
My absolute favorite watch, though, is the Sports watch. Larger in size at 43.5mm, the automatic watch packs a powerful visual punch. It is crafted in stainless steel with a matt case and lugs with polished angles. The crown and the unidirectional bezel are crafted in PVD gold over steel and the bezel ring is black with luminescent triangle dot and white indications. Similarly, the dial is a beautiful black with a Clous d’ Paris style motif. The markers and the hands are luminescent for easy night or underwater reading, and are outlined in gold for a cohesive look. I got a lot of complements when I wore this watch, from both men and women – all wanting to know the brand.
In fact, just last week during Dubai Watch Week, I wore this watch, and several journalists and watch industry execs eyed it up and asked about it. And I found that answering their questions, discussing the fact that the watches are born on a philosophy and driven by a man who knows his way around the watch world, piqued some additional interest. Suddenly a few heretofore naysayers were taking an interest in Stoic World watches. These are quality timepieces at a great value inspired by an idea and designed to be proud, quiet, unassuming, utilitarian timepieces for the everyday man or woman.
Technical Specifications of Stoic World Chronograph (MC1)
Movement: Quartz, VD53, made by Seiko Instruments
Functions: hour, minute, central seconds, date, 24-hour indication, chronograph seconds, minute
Bezel: PVD coated Tachymeter bezel
Case: 38mm 316L stainless steel
Caseback: solid steel with quote
Crystal: Sapphire coated with three layers of anti-reflective material
Bracelet: 316L stainless steel, double-hinged deployment clasp
Water Resistant: 100 meters
Warranty: 2 years
Price: $290. (Shipping cost included)
Technical Specifications of Stoic World Pilot’s Watch
Concept: Stoic tribute to early aviators and military watches of the 1940’s.
Movement: Mechanical Automatic NH35 made by Seiko Instruments
Functions: hour, minute, central seconds, date
Case: 38mm, 316L Stainless steel, sapphire crystals front (with 3 layers of anti-reflective coating) and back (back printed with quote)
Strap: Italian leather with steel double-hinged deployment buckle.
Water resistant: 100 meters
Warranty: 2 years
Price: $390. (Shipping cost included)
Technical Specifications Stoic World Sports Watch (MS1)
Concept: Solid, robust, functional
Movement: Mechanical automatic winding, NH37 by Seiko Instruments for Stoic World, rotor with Geneva Stripes decoration
Functions: hours, minutes, central seconds, date, 24-hour indication,
Case: 43.5mm 316L stainless steel
Bezel: Rotating counter clockwise
Crystals: Sapphire front with 3 layers of anti-reflective coating, sapphire back with printed quote
Water Resistant: 100m
Strap: Leather with quick release Double-hinged deployment
Warranty: 2 years
Price: $490. Shipping cost included