Solid build, super functional, steeped in history, and unpretentious. Sure. It is missing some finishing and a lot of prestige. But it is a consummate everyday watch for someone who is active everyday.
Squale 50 Atmos Review (1521)
Ok. I need to take a deep breath here. I’m not the usual kind of watch review writer. And, for all I know, this will be the only watch review I ever write. But… here it goes.
First, I have to start with a bit of a confession. Actually I have a few confessions.
The first is that I am a total tool watch kind of guy. Actually, I’m a total tool everything kind of guy. I like my stuff to work. And, by work, I mean survive me, my life, my kids, my work, and all the stuff that comes with that. (I’m so taking credit for not mentioning my ex-wife in that list. Score one for me). Something that functions beautifully will always be attractive to me. Fashion for the sense of fashion is lost upon me. Just plain lost on me. In short, I have the ability to break things and things that I can use that I don’t break are appreciated by me.
Second confession: I swear to the gods, both the old and the new, that I went more than four years without wearing a watch unless I had to for my job. Yes. I chose not to keep a timepiece upon my wrist for a very long time. So, I was on the wagon and have re-found the joy of timepieces. And, I have come back with more than a little different perspective after having already owned my grail piece.
And, three: I don’t claim to be a watch expert. I just really like watches. I like their history, I like watches’ mechanisms, I like the jobs that watches can do, and I really love the human stories behind why one person may wear one watch and not another. I find watches a reason to talk and learn with other humans upon this planet. I may not share geography, recent ancestry, nor even a language. But I know, this for a fact, that two humans upon a train who look nothing like each other can share a glance at each other’s watches and then share a smile, a few gestures, and in the course of a few hours of nods, pointing, and demonstrations wear each other’s watches for a bit. Sort of like walking a mile in another’s shoes, but I guess in this case, it was riding several miles with another’s watch on. Either way, time is the one thing that is equally valuable, whether we know it or not, to all humans. And I see watches as a great way to connect with other humans, even if that connection is a fleeting one.
Lastly: I have a dive watch problem. Ever since my dad let me watch my first James Bond movie, longer ago than I would like to admit, I thought that the proper watch for me to wear was a diver. The first watch I bought with my very own money was a diver. And, most of my personal collection is divers.
So, with my conscience clear, let us get at this.
As a diver and tool watch kind of guy it is no surprise that the Squale brand found its way onto my radar. The Squale history, classic styling, and super functionality all but popped off of my computer’s screen as I searched, as I often do, watches upon the web of interconnected computers.
The Squale 50 Atmos is nothing but functionality. Just keep reading, fashionistas. I’ll get to looks in a bit. But, the sum of the pieces is the real key here. I promise.
Let’s start with the size. This is a 42mm watch that is 14mm thick, to me, that wears a bit smaller. Anyone who has the need, or has ever needed, to know what time it is in a hurry does not wear a small watch. No matter the current fashion trends. The 42mm Squale falls right in the sweet spot of dive watches. And, like I mentioned above, the Squale sits on my wrist like a watch that is a bit smaller even though it is not. This is completely a perception from my experience. But, the Squale though its case shape and design just kind of blends to your wrist. Add the 4 o’clock position crown and the perception is enhanced that much more.
To the crown, the crown does what crowns are supposed to do. It allows setting the time and the date. It also allows winding and hacking. Side note: my OCD loves hacking. Being synced to the atomic clock just makes me feel special. Back to the crown: Most importantly about the crown, when you are done winding, setting, and/or hacking it gets the heck out of the way. Its being recessed into the case at the 4 o’clock position has it all but disappear. You sure as hell are not going to have it dig into the back of your hand no matter how loose you wear it. The crown does have the Squale logo on it. This is a nice touch that doesn’t easily get seen, but is there.
The case is polished stainless steel. Its heft is solid and the machining of the edges are spot on. You really have to look to find where one surface ends and another’s begins. The back is screw-in and solid. All the usual writing and stuff is there on the back. One thing of note is that SQUALE is etched; I think that is the correct word, on the non-crown side of the case. A nice little touch, but neither here nor there to me. I’ll let you do the googling of the Squale history. But, the case in question here is no joke. I think my use of the word “solid” may be an understatement.
The bezel is marked with 60 individual markings and a lume spot at 0/60. Numbers counting each 10 minutes around the dial, large marks at the 5’s and dots for each minute can all be easily seen and differentiated. Personally I like this touch when timing events, like dives (yeah right. I haven’t been diving for over 15 years) or how long the chicken has been on the grill. Or, most likely, when the washing machine will be done so you can put the clothes in the dryer. The bezel only spins anticlockwise and each click gets you one minute, so 60 clicks all the way around. Some like 120 clicks. But, I’ve found that an additional 30 seconds on the grill does not ruin my food. The edge of the bezel has super fine serrations. Sort of like the edge of a coin. These serrations don’t seem like much, but in use they prove very functional. Even with gloves on.
Now on to the movement and the face of the watch, but first I think I need to mention that the crystal is sapphire. So, what I’m about to describe will be visible for a really, really long time. The movement, or caliber, is ETA’s 2824-2. The 2824-2 is a true workhorse mechanism in the automatic watch world. This movement has a number of close relatives that are said to be improvements. But, it can never be said that the 2824-2 does not work or that it has inherent design flaws. It plain old keeps track of time. Mine runs a touch over +2 seconds a day. The face, on this one, is black with green lume at the hours and the date window at 3 o’clock. The date window shows black numbers on a white background and has a white painted outline around the date window. Painted markers for each minute are around the far perimeter of the face. The Squale logo and SQUALE is printed below the 12 o’clock position. And 50 ATMOS, the Squale shark/logo, and PROFESSIONAL are all above the 6 o’clock position. All-in-all this watch has a very clear and uncluttered face. There are dive watches out there that seem to have the Unabomber’s manifesto on their faces. But, that is surely not the case here. Add simple sword shaped hands along with a simple second hand and you have a no nonsense time telling device. But, here is where it gets interesting. The minute hand is orange. Sure, all three hands have lume on them. But, the minute hand is orange. I can’t stress how simple telling how many minutes are left on the washing machine is by just glancing at this watch. Wait. I mean telling how many minutes I have left to disarm a suitcase nuke. Yeah. Suitcase nuke.
The Squale 50 Atmos comes with a rubber dive strap. I love rubber dive straps for diving. They fit over wetsuits and grip wetsuits and dry suits so nicely. And the Squale strap is wonderful rubber. The rubber is just the right amount of soft and strength. For sure. For me, though, I find that divers on rubber take up too much space on my body with the rubber seeming to add a bulk that even bracelets don’t have. I’m sure this is just me and my life, but the NATO strap tend to work better for me than the rubber strap does. Nothing against the Squale rubber strap, it is quality. Squale is printed on the strap and the logo can be found on the buckle. Not cheap details at all. I just like the NATOs better. If I go on that diving trip to Baja this winter, the one I’m try to talk my girlfriend into, I’ll probably put the Squale back on the rubber strap. But, for me, the Squale 50 Atmos resides on a NATO most of the time.
Now what do we have here? Solid case? Yep. Solid and functional bezel? Check. Swiss movement? You bet. Uncluttered, readable face and functional hands? Yep and yep. Yeah, yeah. A sapphire crystal too.
The Squale 50 Atmos is nothing, if not a solid time keeping device. The combination of all its parts and how they flow and function together is a synergy that really has to be experienced. The watch looks, feels, and is robust. In the hand, and on the wrist, it is solid without be weighty. The ease at which the time can be seen on this watch is unparalleled in my experience. The orange minute hand and well organized face just work.
This is a watch that was born to explore the oceans of the world. But, it suits the urban jungle or suburbia just as well. This watch is designed to go wherever you do and keep track of the time. While you are doing your thing, on your wrist the Squale 50 Atmos will do its thing. Telling time. No muss, no fuss, and no grandeur needed. It just does. And it knows it does it well.
Here are the specifications:
- Squale 500 meter Professional Swiss Automatic Dive watch with Sapphire Crystal
- Movement: Swiss ETA 2824-2 Automatic, windable, and hackable
- Case: Stainless steel, 42mm x 14mm
- Back: Solid screw-in
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Band: Rubber dive style strap, buckle closure, 20mm.
- Water Resistant: 500 meters, 1640 feet
- Warranty: 2 Years
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