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The Squale 1521 Ocean Mesh is an insider tip for all diving watch fans. Not only because of the great importance of the brand, but also because of the good quality. This text is not about trends or prestige, but functionality, timelessness and performance. But read for yourself…
I did it my way – the story of an independent watch brand
If you only know the mainstream watch brands from the shop windows, you have probably never heard of the Swiss manufacturer Squale. The term squale comes from French and means ‘shark fin’. Fittingly, the lettering of the watch brand from Neuchâtel in French-speaking Switzerland is embedded in a shark, which has been swimming across the dials and cases of the watches since the company was founded by Charles von Büren in 1946.
If you’re going to include a shark in your logo, it stands to reason that you should also manufacture diving watches. However, Squale SA does not focus on the hypes initiated by the Swiss big players. For more than 75 years now, the company has gone its own way and focused on functional, down-to-earth diving watches. “I did it my way,” to put it in the words of Frank Sinatra. Evidence of this is ownership. The history of Squale SA has always been characterized by independence. To this day, the company has not been integrated into any of the well-known corporations but remains family-run. However, this has not been without changes in ownership. During the Squale crisis in the 1980s, the Italian Maggi family bought the ailing traditional brand and moved the headquarters to Milan. Only recently did the company move back to Switzerland.
In its eventful history, Squale has regularly proven its qualities. In the 50s and 60s, Squale was mainly known as a valued supplier for other watch manufacturers, but in the following years, the company increasingly produced watches for the military. For example, for French units and recently also for the Italian state police.
Back to the roots
If you’ve read this blog post up to this point, you’re probably a big dive watch enthusiast who knows the niche brand or an interested newbie. In either case, the model in today’s watch review is a watch to be concerned with. We’re talking about the Squale 1521, which is something of an epitome of the brand and the first port of call if you want to dive into the world of Squale in the truest sense of the word. With the 1521, the manufacturer revisits its own beginnings and those of the diving watch in general. The iconic case, which the founder von Büren gave the reference number 1521, has been built close to the original for the modern reissue.
Unlike the masses of today, it is distinguished by the “missing” horns. Well, they are not missing in the real sense. But since the transition was designed so harmoniously, the case blends into the lugs.
From an inky blue slipcase, you pull out a blue rubberized box. Inside the lid, you’ll find the obligatory warranty card, as well as a comprehensive manual that explains watch settings, crown positions, etc. in detail.
But now let’s explore the watch. My model is the 1521 Series 026/A Polished Ocean Mesh with blue dial and blue bezel (reference number: 1521OCN.ME20). Note: this reference is not identical to the Blue Blasted Mesh, whose case is matte and not polished. With a total of 26 variants offered, it’s easy to get a little confused. What is true for the Ocean Mesh can also be applied to the other watches, which differ mainly in color design and bracelet variant.
The Squale 1521 Ocean Mesh on the Wrist
I really like how the diver with the rich blue tone looks on my wrist. Emotionally, the watch seems very compact, even though it is larger than the first diving watches of the 1950s with a diameter of 42 millimeters. This may be due to the wide bezel and the dial, which disappears deep into the case under the watch glass.
I am particularly amazed at how ergonomic the case is. With the curved lugs, it fits well on my wrist. I would hardly have expected that from such a “historic” wristwatch. At this point, however, you should pay attention to the distance between the lugs. This is 48 millimeters and says more about the accuracy of fit than the diameter.
And visually? The design is right up my alley. I like the retro touch, brought about by the orange hands, the thick watch glass and the circular indices. Despite its straightforward, functional design, the Squale 1521 Ocean Mes is great to wear on the job, on vacation, or out to dinner. There it is again, the everyday suitability of classic diver’s watches, which hardly any other type of watch can hold a candle to. The mesh bracelet, which is not all that common in this combination, also contributes to this. For those who find the combinations with a blue dial (shade Blue Soleil) too colorful, it’s best to reach for one of the black variants. In my opinion, this brings out the character of a toolwatch more.
Squale has chosen classic 316L stainless steel for the Polished Ocean Mesh model. Alternatively, you can also buy 1521 references with a black PVD case coating. This protects the timepiece even better from stones, sharp objects or similar, for example on dives. On the other hand, if you have opted for a polished case (like me), you have to be more careful in everyday life. As beautiful as the silvery surfaces may be, they are susceptible to micro scratches. Drawers, doors and table edges are among the 1521 Polished Ocean Mesh’s arch enemies. So if in doubt, go for the matte Blue Blasted Mesh! The workmanship of the polished stainless steel surfaces is impressive. Here, the decades of experience of the diving watch specialist is evident.
With a diameter of 42 millimeters, the case lies relatively flat on the wrist with a height of 12.5 millimeters. Included is the sapphire crystal, which has no curvature. As you would expect from a good diver’s watch, the Squale 1521 Ocean Mesh is equipped with an anti-reflective coating. This makes it seem like you can touch the dial without any obstruction through the thick bezel. The importance of anti-reflective coating should not be neglected while diving. Despite light reflections under water, it remains perfectly readable.
A somewhat more unusual approach is taken in the choice of bezel material. The unidirectional diving bezel is not made of ceramic, as is so often the case, but of stainless steel. The workmanship here is also successful.
What drives the Squale 1521 Ocean Mesh
Amidst the six-screw caseback is an engraving that presents wavy lines, the shark logo, and select specifications. Exceptionally good is the water resistance. This is at an impressive 50 bar! By comparison, the majority of diving watches available on the market only manage 20 bar. Considering the price range of just under 1000 euros, 50 bar is even more remarkable.
Behind the case back, a Swiss movement from Sellita is working. The SW200-1 is a replica of the now rare ETA 2824-2 movement. After patent protection expired in 2003, Sellita rebuilt it. Squale buys the Sellita caliber in the quality grade Elaboré. The quality levels indicate different shock protection and accuracy. In the Elaboré version, the average accuracy should be around +/- 7 seconds per day. The power reserve is specified as 38 hours.
If you were to cover the dial and no longer be able to see a shark logo, there is still one prominent feature by which you can recognize a Squale 1521. We are talking about the crown. Its position at 4 o’clock is unusual, but it was chosen wisely. Thus, the watch does not interfere with the back of the hand.
Dial and bracelet details
The dial does not reinvent our idea of a diver’s watch. On the contrary, if I had to imagine the typical diver’s watch, its dial would be very close to that of the Squale 1521 Ocean Mes. Its strength is its tidiness. With this functionality, the most important data can be read at a glance. The indices are not applied, but printed and coated with luminous material. Thanks to Swiss SuperLumiNova, the dial shines brightly even in the dark.
The shiny mesh bracelet made of steel perfectly matches the watch. In length, the clasp is adjustable. The width, which is often in demand, is 20 millimeters. Mesh bracelets are mostly a matter of taste. If you want it to be even more comfortable, you can also combine the blue dial tone with a brown leather or black rubber strap.
My conclusion about the Squale 1521 Ocean Mesh
In the unmanageable market of thousands of diver models, how to establish yet another one? With the 1521, Swiss manufacturer Squale shows that it is possible. According to this test, the reasons for success are clear: tradition, concentration on the essential features of a good diver’s watch, quality, many configuration options and a reasonable price-performance ratio. The Ocean Mesh costs just 996.00 euros. At this price, you get an excellent, versatile and uncomplicated diving watch. No experiments, but reliability in every situation.
The warranty is 2 years. Below I have linked you the watch in the store and other interesting pages.