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Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Speake-Marin Kennin-ji Temple Masters Project


Watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin and three specialist engravers have created a one-of-a-kind watch inspired by an iconic Japanese Temple. 

The Kennin-ji Temple Masters Project was commissioned by an experienced collector, described by the watchmaker as being “passionate about high-quality artisanal craft and believes that it is the people involved that impart a timepiece with its soul.”

The inspiration for this timepiece is the Kennin-ji Temple, a historic Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Founded in 1202, it is considered to be the oldest Zen temple in Japan, and the temple's founding abbot, Eisai, is credited with introducing the Zen philosophy to Japan.

To commemorate the temple’s 800th anniversary in 2002, the Hatto building (Dharma Hall) was enhanced by a dramatic painting of two dragons on the ceiling by artist Koizumi Junsaku. The painting covers approximately 1,883 square feet. Speake-Marin says the style differs from the traditional circular layout as the commissioning Abbot requested that the dragons be “rampaging across the ceiling.”

To convey the power of this monumental painting down to the scale of a wristwatch, the Kennin-ji Temple Masters Project timepieces features ornately engraved twin dragons spilling out from the dial to the 42 mm white gold case and onto the surrounding presentation box.

The original stepped bezel was redeveloped to have a rounder profile so that the dragons flow seamlessly from the dial, over the bezel and down the sides of the case. And the engraving isn't restricted to the top and sides. The movement is also engraved and the leather lining of the presentation case is embossed with a similar dragon motif.


Speake-Marin, a British native who now lives and works in Switzerland, served as the project manager and was responsible for the in-house SM2 movement beating beneath the dragons on the dial. The engravers are specialists in their field, responsible for a specific portion on the watch and the packaging. They are:

* Kees Engelbarts, a Dutch native, was the engraver for the dial and case;

* Eddy Jaquet of Switzerland was the engraver for the SM2 movement;

* Christophe Seewer of Switsaerland was the engraver for embossing the leather of the presentation case.

“This is the most extraordinary engraving project I've ever been involved with," said Peter Speake-Marin. “Due to the complexity of the subject (two dragons instead of one), the incredible detail of the engravings and the fact that it isn't just one component that's engraved, but the designs cover practically the whole watch.”

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