Speake-Marin Dong Son Tourbillon Watch

By James Phang

The Dong Son Tourbillon features an 18K red gold dial, with the dial’s centre intricately etched with a motif inspired by the prehistoric bronze drums of the ancient Dong Son people of Vietnam. Dong Son drums are bronze drums crafted by the Dong Son culture in the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam between about 600 BC and the third century AD. The Dong Son people were highly-skilled bronze casters and their drums are considered to represent an artistic level that very few cultures of the time could match. It is believed that the Dong Son drums were used for a wide range of purposes, and could range from celebrations such as musical instruments in festivals to prayers for rain and for a good harvest to rituals such as weddings and funerals, and even for rallying men to war. The sides and top surface of the drums were usually decorated with geometric patterns and inscribed scenes of their day-to-day life, which revolved around war, animals and boats.

Speake-Marin Dong Son Tourbillon 2

These traditional patterns and iconography provide the inspiration for the highly-intricate dial motif of the Speake-Marin Dong Son. In fact, the Dong Son Tourbillon dial motif takes its cues from some of the most revered Dong Son drum creations, including the Hoàng Ha drum, Co Loa drum and the most important of all due to its well-preserved nature and intricate decoration, the famous Ngoc Lu drum. The top surfaces of these drums are adorned with a central starburst and concentric circles within which are repetitive images of armed warriors and flying egrets as well as geometric hatching. The dial centre motif of the Dong Son Tourbillon follows a similar pattern to these historical masterpieces, with an outer ring of graceful egrets complemented by an inner ring featuring plumed warriors holding their weapons between the 12 points of the eye-catching starburst. These 12 points also form a neat horological reference for the central hands indicating hours, minutes and seconds. As for the Roman numerals, they were first engraved, then lacquered, then circular-grained, forming an additional layer of complexity and class to the dial.

What makes the Dong Son drum motif so remarkable is the spectacular precision of the etching in the 1.0mm thick 18 k gold dial. The precision-etched areas of the red gold dial are 0.3 mm deep, with the matte finishing emphasizing the ‘all blue’ dial treatment and provides a stunning contrast with the circular-grained, red gold motif.

According to Peter Speake-Marin, “The precision of the etching to create the Dong Son dial motif was only made possible thanks to an extremely innovative chemical etching process. Such an astonishing level of detail couldn’t have been achieved by human hand.”

Speake-Marin Dong Son Tourbillon 1

Housed in the signature Piccadilly case, the Dong Son Tourbillon possesses other quintessential Speake-Marin qualities including sculpted heat-blued hands, finely finished movement as well as a fluted crown. Polished bevels converges the focal point towards the beautifully hand-finished 60-second tourbillon, framed by its Durino steel guard. Flipping the Dong Son Tourbillon over, the automatic movement SM/CDH Calibre SM3 can be fully appreciated through its transparent case-back.

Priced at $130,000, the Dong Son Tourbillon comes in a limited edition of 8 pieces, following the Western view of luck for number eight. For more info, please visit speake-marin.com

Features and indications
Central hours and minutes
Hand-finished 60-second tourbillon
White-lacquered, multi-level dial

Automatic-winding movement with 950 platinum micro-rotor
Power reserve 72 hours
Display back
Dial and hands
18 k Red gold & Blue-lacquered the “Dong Son” drum motif, multi-level dial featuring tapered are first engraved
Central Speake-Marin Foundation hour and minute hands in heat-blued steel
Movement and finishing
Calibre SM3
Rhodium-finished German silver bridges
Glucydur balance
Automatic-winding movement
Diameter of rotor: 16.40mm
Single barrel
Frequency: 21,600vph / 3Hz
Dimensions: 30.40mm x 5.40mm
Jewels: 25
4N gold-plated bridge engravings

Case and strap
Iconic Piccadilly case in polished 18K red gold
Dimensions:  11.30mm x 5.40mm
Front and display-back sapphire crystals treated with anti-reflective coating
Case-back circumference engraving: “Speake-Marin – The Piccadilly”
Water resistance: 3atm/30m/100ft
Strap: Hand-made, natural alligator strap
Buckle: Pin buckle in 18K red gold

2014-11-26 21.18.04


James Phang is a young watch enthusiast from Singapore and is a self-professed fanatic of independent brands for their unique avant-garde designs. Some of his favorite brands include MB&F, Urwerk, Romain Jerome, Sarpaneva, Peter Speake-Marin and Azimuth. His love for art extends out to all things handmade, and he has made it his personal mission to find the best handmade straps and buckles worldwide for his humble collection. Read his articles here