Squale make an unbelievable GMT, and its been under our nose the whole time...
Think modern Squale and you picture the vivid and bold colours of the model 1521, reminiscent of the most stunning coral reefs. Yet when the brand first caught the imagination of the diving community in the 1950s and 60s their designs were more subdued.
Squale have now embraced past designs in a new collection of watches under the name Sub-39. This series pays homage to their early models which were first conceived when the brand founder, Charles von Büren, was still designing and manufacturing watch cases for some of the most popular brands in the watch industry.
First seen in 2019 to commemorate Squale's 60th birthday, the brand introduced a strict 150-limited-edition model of the Sub-39 series. After it sold out, they built on the success and created an enhanced range of different models, all characterized by the Sub-39 vintage design. The pinnacle of the new series is the GMT Vintage, and this understated and underrated watch deserves closer attention.
1. The styling of the watch
The Sub-39 GMT Vintage was born from a desire to explore a collection that boasts a strong link with the brand’s history. The case design is pure 1960s in inspiration and harks back to the golden era of dive watches when waterproof timepieces genuinely were the purview of serious divers and not fashion items. The vintage look of the watch and dial are authentic yet manage to be contemporary and the faux patina indices and hands give the model a well-worn look. Of course, a thoroughly modern case and sapphire crystal protect this highly capable watch with water resistance up to 300 meters and a full GMT twin time zone complication. The bezel is coated with K1 glass to add further protection to this critical element.
Interestingly, Squale has chosen to put their famous shark logo on the case back and opt for their old vintage logo on the dial. They have also kept dial wording to an absolute minimum, rather than the excessive text which others favour, which really creates a stunning dial focusing on time legibility (as it should do).
2. The ETA 2893-2 movement
In the depths of the Sub-39 GMT beats an ETA 2893-2 operating at 28,800 vibrations per hour and delivering a power reserve of approximately 50 hours. With the serious traveller in mind, this movement has been cleverly designed to not stop or “hack” when adjusting the 24hr hand, keeping accurate time between zones. The 2893-2 is one of ETA’s premium offerings and has been used by numerous high-end brands such as Breitling, Sinn, IWC and TAG Heuer.
3. Its price point
At £1,299 the GMT is by no means a cheap watch, but when you compare it to the selling prices of the previously mentioned competitors, using the same movement, the value for money speaks volumes. You would be lucky to secure an average quality pre-owned base model from brands like Breitling or TAG at this price and what you would find will most likely not look as striking or contemporary as the Squale GMT.
You may well be attracted to the provenance of the bigger brands, but a little research will illustrate the fabulous heritage of Squale and how, when diving and world aviation travel were genuine novelties, they stood shoulder to shoulder with the giants of the Swiss industry. The niche market Squale have carved and now enjoy makes them much more desirable than other brands.
4. WearabilityAt a highly desirable 39mm width and only 13mm in height, the GMT fits well on the wrist. Despite not having Squale’s trademark alternate colour minute hand, legibility is superb and the GMT red hand allows you to check two time zones at a glance.
Whilst the watch comes with a quality leather strap and embossed buckle, the vintage styling of the model lends itself to multiple strap looks from a simple black rubber for a diving heritage look, leather of a different colour or even a military nylon for a vintage Spec Ops underwater look.
As the colour palette of the watch is understated, many straps could be utilised and lift the look or keep it subdued. It is a rare design treat to have a watch that can handle so many looks successfully.
5. Build QualityAs we have established, the GMT is a highly functional watch that is designed to be used in two very distinct environments. Build quality must be top-notch; especially for a watch with this level of underwater heritage. Equally though, if a watch is chosen to be your one and only travel companion it has to be well built, reliable and offer functions that can stand up to the constant use and the rigours of international travel.
On this front, Squale has not compromised and the GMT will take as many jet-setting 24hr or bezel time zone changes as you can handle while allowing you to dive to the depths on your global circumnavigation. This is no mean feat for a watch and in Squale’s own words the GMT is, at its core, a “practical tool”.
To get such a useful watch into this striking package, at this price, is the principal reason the GMT Vintage Sub-39 should be under serious consideration if you are in the market for a diving watch that can also double up as a global travel companion.
We have selected just five compelling reasons to choose this watch, however, once you own one and begin travelling and diving the world with it, we are confident you will find countless other reasons you were glad you secured a GMT Vintage.
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