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5 Stunning Squale Dive Watches - The Best from Italian Brand

Posted on August 02 2021

Squale Italian Dive Watches

There's something special about small brands that make a big impression.

Squale watches aren't exactly a household name. There's a good chance that only watch geeks have heard of them.

But what about this list?

Blancpain, Sinn, Tag Heuer, Doxa and Zeno.

You've heard of them.

Squale was the watch case specialist who supplied all these companies. In the 60s and 70s, when these brands were designing a new watch, they trusted Squale to supply the cases. The Swiss brand was a dive watch specialist.

So why have Squale stayed under the radar?

There are a few reasons why the brand isn't as well-known as some of its contemporaries. So let's look at a very brief history of Squale and then I'll show you the best watches that they have to offer.

Trust me, you should be familiar with Squale watches.

A Brief History of Squale Watches


I don't want to get bogged down in the companies history. But there are some key points worth noting. Particularly when you see Squale advertised as an Italian company.

Aren't Squale Swiss dive watches?

Yes, they are. Sort of.

Squale was founded in Switzerland in the 1940s. By the 1950s they were producing dive watches that were sold in specialist diving shops.

But a large part of their business was supplying cases to third parties. Many of the big Swiss names used Squale cases. One notable design was a case that boasted 500M water resistance and a crown at 4 o'clock. They also did popular utilitarian Skin Diver cases.

For a period in the 1960s and 1970s, it seemed like every other dive watch had a case by Squale or its rival EPSA (more here).

Squale's founder, Charles von Büren, was a keen diver and a personal friend of some of diving's big names. He was responsible for the brand's distinctive logo - the word Von is still in the logo today.

By 1974 Squale was selling its own watches in watch retailers - just in time for the quartz crisis that crippled Swiss watchmaking.

When Von Buren retired he passed the company to the Maggi family. They were Squale's Italian distributors and friends. In 2010 Squale was relaunched, hence the company now being Italian based.



Where are Squale Watches Made?


Squale was founded in Switzerland and that is where the watches are still made. Specifically, they're produced in Grenchen in the Jura valley.

Are Squale Watches Good Quality?


Squale watches just about fall into the affordable category. When judged alongside other affordable brands, Squale watches compare favourably.

As you'd expect from specialist dive watches, they have very good specifications. Squale watches often have significant water resistance. Their most famous models are rated to 500M.

Although they stopped production of mechanical models in the 1980s, automatic watches now dominate the Squale line. Squale watches use Swiss-made Sellita movements.

All Squale watches carry two important words on the dial - Swiss-Made.

The Five Best Squale Watches


I'm sure you'll agree that the Squale story is interesting. It's a dive watch company founded by a diver. The brand then passed from one family to another.

That might be why they don't have a higher profile. They're still a family-owned and family-run enterprise. They only have a handful of employees.

So let's see the best of these stunning Swiss-made watches that come to us by way of Italy.

Squale 1521 Ocean Mesh Blue Watch

The 1521 Ocean model from Squale best sums up the brand's heritage. It looks and feels like a dive watch from the 1970s. Because it is.

It's Squale's reinterpretation of their own classic design - centred around their successful 50 Atmos case.

This blue variation, with the beautiful sunburst dial, is my favourite. It's vintage-inspired but made with current Swiss watchmaking technology. It's colourful, without being gaudy. And it's functional. Remember, it has 500M of water resistance.

This is an iconic dive watch from dive watch specialists. And it contains the DNA at the heart of Squale's watches.

So the elements that you'd expect from a Squale watch are all there. It has the 500M rated case with the neat crown tucked away at 4 o'clock. At 41mm it's smaller than many contemporary dive watches.

The blue dial is matched with a blue bezel. And the hands? They're typical of the brand. The orange minute hand is part of the house style.

This watch is at the higher-end of what I'd class as affordable. But the specs are great. It's powered by a Swiss-made Sellita movement.

This is where I would start with Squale. With the watch that most embodies the ethos of the brand.

Squale 1521 Ocean 1521OCN.ME22

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Sellita Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 500M Water Resistance


Squale Matic Orange Mesh Dive Watch

The Matic is a beefier and more modern interpretation of the classic Squale look.

The case is wider and the water resistance, already high, has been upgraded to 600M. The crown is more substantial than the 1521's and the round markers have been replaced with applied steel indices.

This is the 1521's big brother.

Once again, it's a Swiss-made piece with a Swiss automatic movement.

For me, there is little to choose between these two watches. It comes down to the small differences in design and the case size. The slight improvement in water resistance probably isn't enough to seal the deal - it's all about the aesthetics.

Like the 1521, the Matic is available in a few colour palettes and with a selection of straps. It's another handsome watch - just a little larger and with more of a nod to modernity.

Squale Matic Orange MATICXSC.ME22

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Sellita Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 600M Water Resistance


Squale Sub-39 Automatic Watch

The name gives away one of the main selling points of this watch.

If modern divers are too big for you - many are for me - then a 39mm case can be a godsend.

Again, this model references Squale's back catalogue. Specifically, their vintage Skin diver watches. There is also a touch of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms here. That's no surprise considering Squale made cases for Blancpain.

It's a pared-down dive watch. It has a straightforward case and bezel with a large, practical crown. The simple dial has bold Arabic numerals and the familiar Squale shark logo.

As you'd expect, it has the signature orange minute hand and a neat date window.

There isn't a great deal of choice for legitimate dive watches under 40mm. As I mentioned here, 38-39mm is really comfortable size for a diver.

This is Squale's entry into that market. And it's one of the best smaller divers out there.

Squale SUB-39 Black Arabic SUB39MON

  • 39mm Diameter
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Sellita Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 300M Water Resistance


Squale 2002 Black Dots Watch

You'll have noticed a pattern by now. The Squale 2002 continues the heritage reissue theme. This model was originally released in the 1970s, having been designed by the brand's founder.

The design is distinctive and the watch features a whopping 1000M of water resistance. This is a tool. An attractive watch with retro appeal, but still a tool.

As you'd expect from a watch designed to go deep-sea diving, it's a very legible watch.

There's nothing unnecessary on the dial and the markers are prominent.

But the first feature to catch your eye is the case. It's a 44mm barrel case that wears smaller due to a slight curve in the design.

It's unashamedly vintage and isn't subtle. This watch makes a statement.

It has the 1000M of water resistance - but without the need for a helium release valve. It also has the Swiss construction and Sellita mechanical movement. And it has history.

For many watch fans, this watch will tick all of the boxes they're after.

Squale 2002 Black Round Dots 2002.SS.BK.BK.NT

  • 44mm Diameter
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Sellita Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 1000M Water Resistance

 


Squale Drass Galeazzi Automatic Watch

The final watch that I'd like to highlight is a limited edition piece. It's a collaboration between Squale and Drass Galeazzi, an Italian company that specialises in subsea technology.

Again, this watch is reminiscent of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. It has a similar case and bezel while retaining the Squale hands and 4 o'clock crown.

It's a pleasing mix of classic dive watch styling and Squale DNA.

The specs are as you'd expect and include 500M of water resistance, a Swiss automatic movement and a sapphire crystal. It's a comfortable size, with a case diameter of 42mm.

Like most of the Squale range, this watch harks back to an earlier era. It's more 1950s than some of those others, and more versatile than the 2002.

It's a fitting way to round out this list. It's a Swiss-made model built in collaboration with one of the big names of Italian diving. It's a limited edition piece produced by a small family run business, exactly the kind of watch that I get excited about.

Squale Drass Galeazzi VONDSSG22

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 16mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Sellita Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 500M Water Resistance


Conclusion


I love watches with a story. And I'm a fan of small, independent companies. So it was inevitable that I'd lust after a Squale dive watch.

What makes this brand so special?

Well firstly, it's always cool to discover the less obvious brands. Squale aren't the household name that Rolex is, and they don't have a watch as well-known as the Fifty Fathoms.

Instead, they're a small business - with a handful of employees - that quietly produces stunning specialist dive watches.

They do it with a keen sense of their own history, releasing reissues of their best vintage models.

It's a recipe that works. Design distinctive dive watches, giving a nod to history, and have them built in the Swiss town that gave birth to the brand. And keep them affordable.

I'd suggest that you follow some of the links in this article and take a closer look at these watches. Trust me, you'll become a fan too.


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