It is about time I pencilled in another post! How did I manage to stay away for so long, someone might ask?
Well, the passion is still there, but the watch collecting world has shifted so much towards speculation and attempt for quick profit that I really didn't have the energy to post my thoughts on pieces that would not lead to a significant payoff or did not feature a crown on their crown and dial....
Squal 50 Atmos Opaco
The hunting need is alive though, and I have found myself surfing the web searching for my next "victim". I have always been an advocate of the toolwatch, and as such, all my acquisitions fall in this category. Nothing spells toolwatch better than a military issued piece and this has a lot to do with today's presentation.
A lot has been written about the Blancpain 50 Fathoms, arguably one of the first dive watches ever produced back in 1953, which quickly became the go to watch for a number of French, US and German combat units. The 50 fathoms enjoyed a long life from the early 50s to the early 80s, when Blancpain finally called it quits due to the quartz crisis.
The watch I am reviewing today, pays homage to the last of the issued 50 Fathoms by sharing the same case design and bezel configuration with those legendary examples.
The Squale Atmos 50 Originale Opaco was commissioned by Gnomon watches and was produced by non other than Squale, previously owned by the Charles Von Buren, who was also responsible for the production of the 50 Fathoms. The Originale Opaco shares the same bezel and hands design with the issued piece abut the similarities end there. It now features a sandblasted case which eliminates any reflections and gives it an even more toolish appearance. It has retained the date function and it features a nicely done, matte dial, in line with the military heritage of the watch.
The 50 Fathoms, utilised tritium for its luminosity and hence the dial featured the red 3H circle that we have seen in other issued watches such as the Heuer Bund and the Orfina Bund. As a nod to this past, Squale's emblem, the shark, is painted in red and occupies the same space on the dial. The hour markets are painted on with what can only be described as a pumkin colour, which enhances its vintage feel and gives it a more playful character.
Squal 50 Atmos Opaco
If we were to put aside the watch's heritage, how would it fare against its competition? I am happy to say that it really ticks a lot of boxes. The watch is powered by one of the industry's most robust, workforce movements, the ETA 2824 which has been used by companies such as Tudor, Breitling, Omega and IWC in the past. It is waterproof to 500m and it features a signed, screw-down crown which is placed at 4 o clock, in order to give its user larger freedom of movement. The flat sapphire crystal compliments its character nicely while ensuring that the timepiece will take pretty much whatever its wearer throws at it. The white hour hand and the orange minute hand make reading the time a breeze while the distinctively shaped, squared headed, white seconds hand features a splash of orange on the tip which compliments the dial nicely. The watch is offered with a soft, brown leather strap, but I feel that it is worn best on the elastic Marine Nationale straps, in line with its history.
Can it be used for diving? While all its specifications suggest it can, the bezel is not graduated and the dial does not have a different marker for the 12 o clock position which would make reading the time correctly, a breeze even at low light conditions.
So if my life depended on it, I would not use the Originale Opaco for a dive, instead I would opt for one of the other versions with fully graduated bezels and dials suitable for diving.
Squal 50 Atmos Opaco
The bezel is undoubtedly the highlight of the watch, which features a nicely shaped luminous triangle with an impressive 3D feel. These bezels were not graduated since the divers that used these watches would be submerged for hours at the time and hence the traditional minute graduation became irrelevant.
So if you enjoy the hunt, appreciate the industry's history and are not out to make a quick buck, hunting one of these beauties down so keep you occupied for a bit. With only 99 made, you will probably have a better story than someone wearing a submariner in the next get together...
Blancpain Image; Antiquoroom, https://catalog.antiquorum.swiss/en/lots/blancpain-lot-302-8