Speake-Marin Velsheda Review
The Velsheda is one of Speake-Marin's more avant garde pieces, and if you know Speake-Marin, that's really saying something.
The Velsheda is like...well, it's kind of its own thing really. Of course, the first thing you're going to notice is its single hand design which, although aesthetically totally different from pieces like MeisterSinger, is functionally similar.
Yes, like other mono-hand watches, a single, albeit huge, hand tells the time instead of the far more conventional hours and minutes. Here the time is about 6:30.
On the other hand, unlike other mono-hand watches, it's not a mono-hand watch. There are two "hands" here: the huge hand that you see, and the center wheel that you don't notice until you see it running in person.
Yes, Speake-Marin's rotor/logo is actually a spinning seconds "hand" in the middle. So this, in effect, actually has two hands, and it looks really cool.
Stylistically, the watch is very refreshing. The centerpiece is, of course, that massive heat blued hand. Most heat blued hands tend to look black except for when they're in bright, direct light, but because the hand is so massive and has so many different facets, it actually always seems to have a blue glow.
While the hand is definitely avant garde, the gorgeous enamel dial doesn't let you down either. It uses a combination of bold Arabic and Roman numerals that really works for some reason. I'd have thought this would be a mess, but my eyes basically just see right past the Roman numerals and treat them as just markers at a glance. But it's the white enamel dial that impresses the most. It's got a beautiful polished sheen to it.
The Piccadilly case the part that is most identified with Speake-Marin, and it's utilized in titanium here. The 42mm dimensions are a bold, modern size, although it does wear a little larger than it sounds, thanks mostly to its longer lug to lug dimension of 53.3mm. On the other hand, it's reasonably thin at 12mm (slightly less in my own measurements), not bad for a modern automatic.
The large crown is very easy to use and the watch itself is one of the smoothest winding I've ever encountered. It's one of those watches where you're not even really sure if you're winding it or if the crown is just freewheeling. The crown itself doesn't screw down and the watch is only good for 30 meters of water resistance, but then, I have a difficult time imagining someone would even think to take a watch like this diving in the first place.
The part I'm really interested in talking about is the movement. No, it's not an in-house movement, and that's actually a good thing. This Calibre 3002 comes from Vaucher.
Not familiar with Vaucher? Well you're not alone, but they're the movement side of the formidable Parmigiani Fleurier, and I trust that they need no introduction.
To begin with, that heat blued rotor just looks amazing. It's my favorite of these full-disk rotors. We've seen them on Grand Seikos but, although cool, they've always covered too much of the movement. This rotor is skeletonized to the extreme and hides almost nothing. That's good because this is a very nicely finished movement. The very bold "côtes soleillées" reminds me of JLC perpetual calendars like the 876.
Aside from that, we can see a Triovis adjustment mechanism, like you'd find on many Vacheron Constantin and Nomos watches, accompanying, as you'd expect, a smooth balance wheel. The power reserve is pretty impressive as well, at 50 hours opposed to the more conventional 40. It's very hard to say for sure, but it appears that the rotor rides on ceramic ball bearings, which should make the watch more resistant to wear. While it's not officially chronometer rated, it's still adjusted for 5 positions, so it should be quite stable.
So that's the Speake-Marin Velsheda. If you're a fan of single handed watches (noting, of course, that this does have a seconds "subdial"), this is a pretty amazing choice. It's a gorgeous watch, particularly the heat blued giant hand and clean white enamel dial, and the watch backs it up with a movement that has serious pedigree. I think what impresses me most about the Velsheda is that, despite some incredibly bold styling choices, I find it much less divisive and controversial than other haute horology pieces. It's not going to have the universal appeal of a Datejust, of course, but I think it'll have broader appeal than similar watches in this "class."