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Swiss GMT Watch Maradonna: Squale Atmos 30 Ceramica Owner's Story
Introduction: Squale 30 Atmos User Story
I would be lying if I said I've never had a problem with tribute work. When I started collecting watches, I thought the idea of having a watch inspired by another watch was no better than a fake watch. But I've learned to be better (conceptually at least). I understand that a counterfeit watch is a watch that tries to deceive when a tribute watch tries to pay homage to an inspiration in a quality and / or fun way.
But even though I conceptually understand this, I'm still struggling. I have interacted with respect from micro and larger brands and I recognize the quality, expertise and care that is given to certain sections.
So, this is the Squale 30 Atmos GMT Ceramica. It is clearly inspired by the sturdy and luxurious watch. It's an honor. But can I see past that? Do you? In a true TBWS way, I will only be able to determine this answer and more by digging deeper and doing a hands-on review.
Is the Squale 30 Atmos GMT the perfect watch for someone looking to buy an "affordable big brand" or can it really stand out on its own terms as a product that exceeds its spare parts (and in this case, the amount of pre-existing inspiration). Or none of that matter?
The Atmos GMT squale measures 42mm in diameter, 49mm lug to lug and 13mm thick. This is somewhat deceptive in photos, but watches tend to be worn on the bigger side. But it doesn't feel big or impractical. My wrist is under 7 inches and I really feel like I'm in control of the wearing experience with Squale GMT. That said, wearability is definitely on the edge and if the case was any larger it would be a tough sell for me. While the size is suitable for having a strong wrist presence, the actual weight of the Squale GMT case itself is also a factor as it is quite heavy.
The general profile of Squale GMT 30 Atmos is inspired by the case of the classic GMT diver. But there is a point of digression. The pre-existing 16710 case measures 40mm where this Squale Atmos GMT case measures 42 - considering the larger size means the case also has the curvature to accommodate the wearer's wrist. The sides of the casing are high polished while the top of the lugs is brushed.
One of the more finicky items I want to focus on with this Squale Atmos GMT review is the bezel. The 24 hour bezel itself is made of ceramic which can honestly be a big selling point for people. I personally prefer aluminum inserts, but I can appreciate Squale Atmos using ceramic and making the traditional high-end bezel material available in $ 1,000 pieces. The quality of the writing on the Atmos GMT bezel is in accordance with the price in my opinion.
To be honest, I am 100% sure that the letter quality on the some other brand ceramic bezel will differ greatly from the lettering on the Squale Atmos GMT bezel. There's also an almost 10x difference in price here. Hence, the negative criticism of the bezels compared to other ceramic bezels is not justified. I think the price of the ceramic material makes this watch fun. I have to admit that I really like the way the ceramic captures light - it really makes Squale Atmos appear in a way that my other work doesn't.
However, the bezel might not be very easy to rotate. I have to literally grab hold of something and lean there to get any purchase. I found that in moving the bezel you should pay attention to the (1) the tooth angle of the bezel, (2) the width of the bezel, (3) and the click mechanism. The Squale Atmos GMT ceramic bezel has an angle that might need extra effort for some people. Plus the bezel itself isn't too far from the case to give you a good surface area to grip with.
However, if you can overcome the angle of the bezel and the lack of a gripping surface area, then you will have to face the trouble of actually getting the bezel to rotate and click.
In my view, the overall consistency of the case design is outstanding. The lines and curves are outstanding and the overall quality of the finish is right where it should be. I often find myself admiring the case itself and running my thumb along the polished side of the case because the quality feels so good. I also just wanted to give a big shout out to the Squale Atmos GMT crown. It's on the bigger side but the grip and turns are excellent. Instead of being able to play with the click bezel, I just played with the crown.
A more direct and accusing comparison with the other similar GMT watch is thrown into the Squale Atmos GMT Classica dial element. Stylistically, the minute hand, second hand, hour hand and GMT hour hand are the same - as are the applied markers; they are a mixture of circles, bars, and triangles in 12. All the elements I just mentioned are glowing with SuperLuminova.
The dial text is minimal compared to the 16710 - the Squale logo uses silver pigment (as opposed to solid white) while the 6 o'clock text displays "GMT" in red and "30 ATM" in the same silver pigment as the logo. The applied hands and markers are wrapped in a thin, highly polished material that shines clearly.
In terms of the design, I was completely focused on the level of quality it executed. Any brand can take the 16710's design for inspiration. It's not the intrinsic nature of design that expresses quality (or classic taste) - it's the level of care and finesse with which you express the design.
The sapphire crystal makes Squale 30 Atmos GMT feel solid. I even liked the cyclops, which I found useless when I first heard of them. But now that I have personally tried it, I am a believer. But I don't want it on every watch - I'm just saying I love the cyclops here at Squale 30 Atmos.
Surprisingly, I don't think I see enough praise for the Squale 30 Atmos GMT bracelet - it's an unsung hero. This is a classic oyster link model bracelet, but the links themselves are thick and feel strong (in a very nice way!). When you hold the bracelet, you feel like you are tackling something really difficult with a neat finish. When you combine the bracelet with the case, the whole package makes for a very confident wearing experience.
The top of the Squale 30 Atmos GMT bracelet has a brushed matte finish (to complement the finish on the case lugs), while the sides of the bracelet are high polished (to match the sides of the case). This is a very simple yet clean and effective design choice that matches the overall profile of the watch. The link is a screw link, which is a convenient feature to have - makes sizing the bracelet a breeze.
However, if you try to take off the bracelet to maybe throw the piece at NATO or something else, you're in a world of wounds. No lugs are drilled, so you can try removing the bracelet by attaching the spring bar from the back of the watch by inserting the tool into it and shaking it. It's about futile efforts like trying to scream underwater.
Squale Atmos GMT's final solid link is so deep that placing the tool blade spring accurately in the right place is not easy. I struggled desperately to remove the bracelet from mine. But this is the kicker, as soon as I took off the bracelet and tried Squale GMT in NATO I couldn't wait to get it back in the bracelet. The watch doesn't feel right on anything but the bracelet that comes with it. To me, these two are a packaged deal. So while removing that bracelet is harder than hell, I don't anticipate trying out any other string combos.
Another factor in me choosing to keep the Squale bracelet is the 21 mm in lugs. Irregular size that is difficult to find the strap. The 21mm band tapers to approx. 18mm on the clasp. The entire outside of the clothespin is brushed while the inner folding mechanism is polished. There are also micro-customizations and diver extensions which are really fun to play with. The quality of the Squale GMT buckle is very strong and I can see it sticking around and not breaking any time soon.
Powered by the Swiss automatic movement ETA 2893-2/Sellita SW330-1. Quickset GMT and Date function. The Squale 30 Atmos GMT offers the wearer the option to use an independent GMT hand. This allows you to adjust the GMT hand to track a second time zone. So far I have been very impressed during my time with this movement. The spinning is smooth and at 28,800 seconds the second hand sweeps in an extraordinarily smooth manner. The handwind movement is also a hand which I enjoy as (as mentioned above) the Squale GMT crown is perfect to go with. It is large but does not meet the design or user experience.
The only drawback of the ETA 2893-2 at Squale GMT is the power reserve. I saw on paper that the power backup lasted 38 hours without a full wind and I didn't list it as a problem. But in practice it can sometimes be annoying not to wear the watch for a day and a half and the power reserve runs out. A minor inconvenience though to be honest, but when 40+ power reserve costs become the norm, 38 is something that catches my eye.
It is very human and typical of many watch collectors not to be able to see the watch past its design. I understand that's a ridiculous thing to say because the majority of modern horology is practice in product design. However, Squale Atmos GMT showed me the opposite.
Squale didn't choose the antique and sturdy look because it wanted something that looked like a legendary watch. Squale 30 Atmos GMT is not about looks at all. Watches are an expression of Squale's quality. It is a brand that is stretching their manufacturing muscles.
Squale Atmos GMT chose the impression as its place to express product quality. It's not about remanufacturing or reinventing the wheel with a watch like this. It's about choosing quality over design. I say that as someone who sometimes chooses to value design over quality. But my time with Squale has shown another side of the coin.
It's like how bodybuilders use classic and established poses when they are in the show. When someone does a vacuum pose, they are not trying to trick you into thinking they are Arnold Schwarzenegger. They use the pose as a way to express their physique and the hard work they've put in. I think that is tantamount to good respect. Quality exceeds originality. But it's up to you to decide if that's a bad thing or not. For me, I am now more proud than ever to have this work in my collection.
This version of Squale 30 Atmos GMT is available Gnomon store. Plus, there are tons of different versions of the Squale 30 Atmos now such as Alpine Green and Vintage Ceramics. Usually 30 of the newer Atmos Models will sell for around $799.