When getting ready for a family vacation out west this summer, the usual thoughts on what to pack started to seep in very early. Those thoughts quickly focused on what watches to bring. Since we would be visiting several national Parks, I wanted to bring a bunch of watches and get some awesome pictures.
However, as a ridiculous over-packer, I swore that on this trip, I would bring only one watch! And the bead-blasted Squale 1521 was the final winner. Going on this big trip was also the motivation or rationalization; depending on your perspective, I needed to splurge for this Swiss beauty.
I have been drooling over the 500-meter water-resistant 1521 Squale watches since I saw Mark from Long Island Watch wearing a blue beauty on YouTube several years ago. My only hold-up for not grabbing one earlier was I often thought the dimensions were a little off for me. I am just not a fan of a 42mm or bigger case with only 20mm lugs. Well, in this case, I was wrong and should have pulled the trigger long ago; the size and dimensions are near perfection!
So when I started to pick that one perfect vacation watch for me, my rabbit trail ultimately led me to the newer Squale 1521-026-MIL-B, the 500M, no-date, bead-blasted beauty you see here. It is also one of the versions where Squale drops the second logo from the dial, which I love.
There are several in-depth reviews out there that you can dive into, but my overview is more about basic specs, why I chose this particular watch, and how it wore on my trip and since owning it.
Why Did I Buy The Squale 1521?
I had a few prerequisites when hunting for my so-called “ultimate vacation watch.” Our trip included huge hiking trips, ATV adventures, lots of water activities, airplanes, lots of driving, packing, and unpacking, and it was going to be a non-stop family fun fest. I need a watch that can do it all.
I also wanted a watch that was going to fly under the radar and not scream, “Hey, look at me; I spent a grand on a watch!”. The 1521 delivers here too.
Really, if you are not a watch guy, you have no idea what this beauty actually is. The 1521 is so utilitarian looking that it doesn’t even catch your attention unless, of course, you are me, and I can’t stop staring at it when it’s on the wrist.
My wristwatch tastes have evolved over the years, and I have a newfound appreciation for a watch brand’s history and heritage. If you know Squale, you know the history is deep, and you are indeed wearing a classic on your writs. That little nugget also brought a smile to my face when wearing the 1521.
Rugged Durability: The Squale 1521’s sturdy construction, with its blasted finish stainless steel case and solid screw-in back, instilled confidence that the watch could withstand the rigors of any adventure.
Superb Lume: The watch’s outstanding luminescence was a standout feature that appealed to your love for both exploration and practicality. The ample application of Super-LumiNova on the dial’s indexes and hands ensured excellent readability in low-light conditions, making it an indispensable tool during nighttime adventures.
Subtle Elegance: While ruggedness was crucial, you also sought a watch that wouldn’t draw unnecessary attention or be too flashy. The Squale 1521’s design struck the perfect balance between understated elegance and practicality.
Versatility: The ultimate “do-it-all” aspect of the Squale 1521 was precisely what sealed the deal. Its exceptional 500-meter water resistance made it a reliable diving companion, while the scratch-resistant AR sapphire crystal protected it during your various outdoor pursuits.
Additionally, the comfortable black tropic-style rubber dive strap ensured a secure fit during swimming sessions or days with the kids while also pairing well with more formal occasions like big family dinners.
You will notice in my pictures that I did ditch the factory strap almost instantly. Not because it was terrible; it’s really soft and well done, I hate any strap that doesn’t lock the tang down, and you constantly have to slide it back. I went with a Quick Release Silicone instead.
Adventure-Ready: The 1521’s rugged durability, good looks, outstanding lume, and practicality make it versatile. I can say from my first-hand experience putting it through its paces the watch is a beast.
Wearing The Squale 1521
A watch can look cool, but how it wears, of course, is the ultimate test. In the case of the Squale 1521, it is an absolute joy on the wrist. I am a vast Seiko Turtle fan and always recommend them for a durable automatic watch, but if you can afford it, the Squale 1521 is another stellar option.
Like the Turtle, the dimensions are a little misleading. It may measure 42mm, but it sure doesn’t feel like that on the writs. The watch’s curved lugs hug your wrist and keep it stable even under heavy movement. In addition to the lugs, the slim height aids the overall low profile of the watch, making it slide under your sleeve and stay out of the way.
The overall aesthetic of the watch is enhanced by the good-looking matte dial. The dial is clean looking, and the markers, hands, and face all work together to give it a slight military feel. Having no date also helps keep it looking neat and tidy.
Brief History of Squale
Before we delve into the specifics of the 1521-026-MIL-B model, let’s take a moment to appreciate Squale’s remarkable legacy in the world of dive watches. Founded in 1950 by Charles von Büren in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, Squale quickly gained recognition for producing robust timepieces tailored specifically for divers.
It was during this era that Charles von Büren, a passionate watchmaker with a rich family background in horology, decided to embark on his own venture.
Drawing inspiration from his father and grandfather’s legacy, he established Squale as a brand dedicated to crafting exceptional timepieces. Charles von Büren’s family had long been associated with the art of watchmaking, instilling in him a deep appreciation for precision craftsmanship.
With this heritage as his foundation, he set out to make his mark in the industry by focusing on a niche market: dive watches for professional divers. Recognizing the growing demand for reliable timepieces that could withstand the rigors of underwater exploration, Squale quickly gained recognition among diving enthusiasts.
Throughout its history, Squale has collaborated with renowned brands such as Blancpain and Doxa—establishing itself as a trusted OEM manufacturer. The company’s ability to combine functionality and elegance has made it a favorite among both professional divers and watch collectors alike.
Squale 1521-026-MIL-B Specifications
The Squale 1521 Militaire dive watch boasts an array of impressive specifications, making it a top choice for watch enthusiasts, and these specs are what swayed me to pick this one for my “vacation watch”.
Movement: At the heart of the Squale 1521 lies a Swiss Sellita SW200-1 automatic movement, known for its precision and reliability. This self-winding movement ensures accurate timekeeping and eliminates the need for manual winding, making it a convenient and efficient timepiece for daily wear and underwater exploration.
A lot of folks love this movement. I, however, think it’s a little overrated. I have a few other watches with it inside, and they are all over the place in accuracy. That and, in my experience, these barely can make it to the stated 38-hour power reserve. But neither of these two issues bothers me enough not to buy the watch or a watch with this movement.
Squale does have a COSC Certified 1521 that was recently released. You can see more info on Squale’s website here or check out Long Island Watch. The 1521 also has several dial color variations in either polished or brushed cases.
Case: The watch is housed in a durable blasted finish stainless steel case, measuring 42mm in diameter and 12.5mm in thickness. With a tip-to-tip length of 48mm, the case strikes a balance between boldness and wearability, fitting comfortably on a variety of wrist sizes.
The bead blasting looks awesome. I do not like wearing flashy watches or very shiny ones and like to go under the radar, this guy does that extremely well.
Case-Back: The Squale 1521 features a solid screw-in back, ensuring enhanced water resistance and protecting the intricate movement within from external elements. This robust construction contributes to the watch’s impressive 500-meter water resistance rating, making it a reliable diving companion.
Crystal: The watch is equipped with an anti-reflective (AR) sapphire crystal, providing excellent clarity and ensuring optimal legibility in various lighting conditions. Sapphire crystal is renowned for its scratch-resistant properties, safeguarding the dial from potential damage during adventurous activities.
Watch Band: The Squale 1521 comes with a practical and comfortable black tropic style rubber dive strap, measuring 20mm in width. The rubber strap is perfect for water activities, offering a secure fit and excellent durability to withstand the challenges of underwater exploration. The buckle closure ensures a snug and reliable attachment to the wrist.
I usually don’t like spending this kind of money on a watch that doesn’t come on a strap, but I broke my own rules here, and since I am desperately in love with the watch, I have quickly gotten over the no bracelet.
There is an after-market mesh bracelet you can get directly from Squale.
Water Resistant: Boasting an impressive water resistance of 500 meters (50 ATM), the Squale 1521 is a professional-grade dive watch suitable for deep-sea diving and demanding underwater conditions. This exceptional water resistance rating makes it a reliable timekeeping tool for serious divers.
The 500 meters is really one of the reasons I wanted this watch. I have no intention of diving to those depths, but I do think it speaks to the ruggedness of the watch and it’s construction.
Weight: Weighing in at approximately 100 grams, the Squale 1521 strikes a harmonious balance between substantial build quality and comfortable wearability. The watch’s moderate weight ensures it feels sturdy on the wrist without being overly burdensome during extended use.
The watch wears exceptionally well and is very balanced on the wrist. It was a very active trip from cliff jumping to horseback riding and I never felt like the 1521 was bouncing around on my wrist.
Warranty: The Squale 1521 comes with a reassuring 2-year warranty, providing peace of mind to the owner regarding the watch’s quality and craftsmanship. I would love the watch a little more if it had a 5-year warranty; this is definite;y a negative against Squale here.
A measly two years is almost unheard of, but I bet that’s because the movement is so crappy on a comparative level. I understand it;’s a Swiss Movement, and it has the Elabore’ treatment, but nonetheless, two years is weak.
Put This Watch On Your Buy List
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that hundreds of watches would have served me well on a trip to the Grand Canyon and make for durable timepieces for vacation and daily wear. But, there are not as many that are under $1,000 with the history, quality, and heritage behind them. You can’t argue with what you get with a Squale of this caliber.
If this falls within your budget and you love watches, this is one you need to pick up!
Are Squale Dive Watches Any Good?
Yes, Squale dive watches are highly regarded and considered to be of excellent quality. The brand has a rich history in watchmaking, particularly in the realm of professional dive watches. Established in 1946 by Charles Von Büren, Squale quickly gained recognition for producing robust and reliable timepieces designed for divers and underwater adventurers.
Over the years, Squale has built a reputation for crafting durable and functional dive watches that meet the demanding needs of both professional divers and watch enthusiasts. The company’s commitment to quality materials, precision engineering, and attention to detail has earned them a loyal following within the diving community.
Some key factors that contribute to the positive reputation of Squale dive watches include:
Water Resistance: Squale dive watches often boast impressive water resistance ratings, with models capable of depths ranging from 200 meters to 1000 meters. These ratings make them suitable for various underwater activities, including recreational and professional diving.
Materials: Squale uses high-quality materials, such as stainless steel, sapphire crystal, and reliable Swiss automatic movements from reputable manufacturers like Sellita and ETA. These materials ensure the watches can endure the challenges of diving and other adventurous pursuits.
Design: Squale dive watches are known for their classic and timeless designs, which often incorporate elements of traditional dive watch aesthetics. They strike a balance between functionality and elegance, making them suitable for both diving and everyday wear.
Lume: Squale pays special attention to the luminescence of their watches, applying generous amounts of Super-LumiNova on dials and hands. This ensures excellent legibility in low-light or dark underwater conditions.
Heritage: With a history dating back to the mid-20th century, Squale has a heritage that adds to the appeal of their watches. The brand’s long-standing presence in the dive watch market demonstrates its dedication to producing timepieces that stand the test of time.
It’s worth noting that watch preferences can be subjective, and different individuals may have varying opinions on specific models or features. However, overall, Squale dive watches have earned a positive reputation for their reliability, durability, and functionality, making them a popular choice among diving enthusiasts and watch collectors alike.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.