Times change, styles change — nowhere is that old adage truer than in the watch world, where each year seems to bring a hot new color or style. Tiffany blue dials and integrated bracelet sports watches may be the trends du jour at the moment, but one trend that’s been building steam for the last several years is the reversion back to modestly sized watches. Sub-40mm dive watches, while a decade ago seemingly only available on the vintage market, have seen a huge resurgence in popularity. More options in watches and watch sizes is never a bad thing, but it raises the question: are oversized dive watches dead? Spending time with the Squale Matic has made it abundantly clear that the genre of large, overbuilt dive watches is still alive and well. With a charming vintage design steeped in diving history and a range of vibrant colorways, the Squale Matic is a fun and colorful diver and one that’s a pleasure to wear.

Think back to the sun-bleached days of the 1960s and 70s, when SCUBA diving was captivating mainstream culture. Neoprene-clad, leather-skinned divers were backrolling off boats only to resurface later with underwater footage that would captivate the world. Look closely, and there’s a good chance that the watch on those divers’ wrists was made by Squale.

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Squale (Italian for shark) was originally founded in 1959 by Charles Von Büren, an avid diver and casemaker, but the brand’s history stretches back even further, as Von Büren had already been producing watch cases out of his factory on Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland for 15 years. Given his own passion for diving, producing his own brand of professional dive watches was a natural fit, though Von Büren’s cases, with their signature style, could still be found on plenty of watch brands. After years in the Von Büren family, the brand was eventually handed over to the Maggi family, close friends, and long-time distributors of Squale watches. Today, the brand continues to produce Squale watches from SCUBA diving’s golden era, including the now-classic 1521 and the watch reviewed here, the Squale Matic.

While the 1521 was by all definitions a professional divers watch, the Squale Matic bumped up almost every specification, making the Squale Matic their top-end professional divers watch. Echoing the lines of the 1521’s case, first introduced in the 1970s, the Squale Matic’s 316-L stainless-steel case is upsized from 42 to 44mm in diameter. With a lug-to-lug distance of 51mm and a case thickness of 16mm (though part of that thickness is due to the highly domed sapphire crystal), this is no lightweight. The Squale Matic is unapologetically big and burly. However, that’s not to say that the Squale Matic is uncomfortable or unwieldy. The lugs angle down more sharply than almost any other watch out there resulting in a watch with little-or-no overhang even on smaller wrists (for reference, mine is 6.75”) and stays glued to the top of the wrist without awkwardly shifting around. It’s another classic case of dimensions only being part of the picture. The Squale Matic wears more comfortably and easily on the wrist than plenty of watches with smaller dimensions and shorter lugs, thanks to the ergonomic profile and the crown tucked neatly away at 4 o’clock. One small note is that the crown appears to be bead-blasted, contrasting the brushed finish of the case. A bit quirky, but the crown is grippy, smooth, easy to use, and you’d be hard-pressed to notice.

The angular case is lightly brushed throughout with chamfered edges on the lugs. The captive coin edge bezel atop the case is secured by four screws — another giveaway that the watch is meant to be used and knocked about. The case finishing is neat and tidy and everything about the case design screams utility. The polished caseback features Squale’s shark logo along with some basic information on the watch, including its 60atm (600m) water resistance rating. This is undoubtedly overkill, and even if your body won’t survive a trip that deep in the mesopelagic, at least you know your watch will.

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The Squale Matic is available in several fun, vintage colorways, including light blue with a blue and white bezel and a chocolate dial (that one was tempting to check out). The black and orange dial, reviewed here, has a deep matte black dial with applied indices and orange accents. The Squale logo is prominent at 12 o’clock, with the depth rating and the Squale shark logo at 6 o’clock. The double-logos on Squale watches bother some people, but it’s hardly noticeable when wearing the watch and it’s part of the brand’s history and a reminder that Squale’s been at the watch game for a very, very long time.

In addition to the indices, the unidirectional, 120-click bezel on the Squale Matic features an orange pip at 12 o’clock and an orange accent at 6 o’clock. The bezel insert is made from enameled steel and is deep, glossy, and gorgeous. In addition, the markings are a bit unusual, in that you get one-minute increments from 0-30, and again from 45-60, with open, five-minute only markers from 30-45. A throwback to the original, this bezel style was unusual for its time. The primary function was to measure bottom times (15 min was plenty for most recreational dives); by aligning the minute hand to the 45-minute mark, the diver could measure the elapsed time, then quickly advance the bezel a few minutes, aligning the lume pip to the minute when it was time to ascend and begin decompression. Those quirky vestigial details from the past are one of the reasons vintage reissue watches are so charming.

Overall, the black and orange color scheme works extremely well with this watch; however, there are a few niggles. First, the orange seconds hand and the end of the lollipop seconds hand are a bright fluorescent orange. The fluorescent orange is great for legibility, but when coupled with the more subdued orange accents on the rest of the watch they do clash a bit. Sure, there are the professional intentions, but from a purely aesthetic standpoint, a deeper orange that matched the rest of the orange on the watch would have worked better. The second issue is lume. The lume on the hour and minutes hands (Super-LumiNova C3) is outstanding, but the luminescence from the orange-lumed indices is almost non-existent. For an overbuilt, 600-meter-rated diver it’s a bit of a letdown.

Nitpicks aside, the Squale Matic is a great-looking watch. It’s big and burly, has oodles of vintage charm, and is a great pick for a summer spent on the beach (or wishing you were at the beach). To add to the summer watch appeal, the Squale Matic comes mounted on a soft and pliable tropic-style rubber strap. The strap tapers from 22mm at the lugs down to 16mm at the branded buckle. There’s plenty of variation in comfort and quality when it comes to tropic-style straps and this is definitely on the premium side of the line. The Squale Matic can also be purchased on a mesh bracelet or perforated leather strap, but it’s hard to beat the tropic here.

The Squale Matic is powered by the Sellita SW 200-1 automatic movement. Squale specs the Elaboré-level version of the movement, meaning that you get a movement that beats at 28.8kbph and has 38 hours of power reserve and 26 jewels. This ETA 2824-2 doppelgänger has become ubiquitous in watches in the $1-2k range and is a solid, reliable choice here.

Sub-40mm dive watches have become extremely popular for good reason, but there’s plenty of space in the market for large, overbuilt divers. The Squale Matic, in all its colorful guises, is simply a fun watch to wear. Given its rich heritage in SCUBA-diving history, with the Squale Matic you get a vintage-styled watch that’s an authentic throwback to another era. With apologies to Mark Twain, the report of the death of big, burly dive watches has been grossly exaggerated. Prices for the Squale Matic begin at CHF 1,245 before taxes on the tropic-style rubber strap. For more information on the Squale Matic, please visit the brand’s website.

Necessary Data

>Brand: Squale>Model: Matic Satin Black rubber

>Price: CHF 1,245

>Size: 44mm diameter, 51mm lug-to-lug, 16mm thickness, 22mm lug width.

>When reviewer would personally wear it: During a summer day at the beach or any other outdoor activity.

>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone looking for a colorful, vintage-styled watch that isn’t afraid of a bit of heft on the wrist.

>Best characteristic of watch: Ergonomic case shape with long sloping lugs; orange and black color scheme.

>Worst characteristic of watch: Mismatched orange on the hands vs. dial; weak lume on the indices.





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