Mention Gnomon watches and it is an instantly recognisable name which has been a constant in Singapore and has been for the last twenty years. In recent times, the name Gnomon watches is synonymous amongst horology enthusiasts with passion for timekeeping which goes to show they are constantly redefining themselves and keeping abreast on all things horology related.
Needless to say, the piece I have today is like nothing you would have seen. It’s design so contemporary and minimalist with an almost Nordic inspiration veiled around its façade. This would even make the head of the famed minimalist designer, Jakob Wagner, turn. Having seen the watch, what is so fascinating about the design is that it is so deceptively simple and yet has well thought of components in the design expertly cascading through the piece.
And without further ado, the other player that has come together to create this collaboration piece is no stranger and is a long-time partner of Gnomon; Squale. Squale has had a great history of making watches and in particular dive pieces. When two well-known names in the horological world decide to come together to hash something unique, the results can often be unpredictably stellar. And this is exactly what makes this collaboration so exciting and has undoubtedly piqued the interest of so many.
Squale has had a very singular focus on creating dive watches predominantly, dating back to the 1940s and they grew from humble beginnings; supplying cases and components to watch brands wanting to have a piece of the dive watch market pie. 30 years later, Squale has decided to delve into the watch making world by releasing a piece which they can call their own. With their already formidable track record, needless to say that this was a huge success. They are known for great, sturdy vintage and retro styled pieces. With some very distinctive characteristics or finishes on their pieces, of which I will dive into more as I go along, pun intended. This segues nicely into the piece at hand today; The Gnomon X Squale Collaboration piece named LAB Edizione 1 – Limited Edition (200 pieces).
Upon first glance, this piece looks nothing like any Squale pieces you would have seen before. Initial impressions and thoughts that would come to mind are minimal, industrial, and contemporary or as the Greeks would say you can see some ‘meraki’ coming through in this piece. There is a certain passion and enthusiasm when minds behind a piece feel that simple designs can evoke great nostalgia. For me I see this very evident on the LAB Edizione 1. Of course, if you are not already familiar with Squale, you may fail to see some obvious tell-tale signs that the DNA of Squale is evident all over the piece which I will be dissecting as we move along.
The Case & Bezel
If you have seen your fair share of Squale watches, then it would be almost instantly recognisable that the case of the LAB Edizione 1 pays homage to one of the most notable pieces in their collection to date. It has the iconic case of the 50 Atmos that has the crown at the 4 o’clock position. Surprisingly, having the crown at the 4 o’clock position is both eye catching and to a certain degree, it feels much more comfortable on the wrist and very possibly may have been ergonomically inspired.
Dimensions wise, this comes in at 41MM which is consistent among its predecessors and 48MM lug to lug. The nicely curved lugs on this piece are finely polished and blends nicely together with the polished bezel. The great thing about the curved lugs is that it aids in making this piece extremely wearable for almost all wrists and as great as a daily piece. With a thickness of 12.5MM this is not a very chunky piece and is of an ideal size that would work well for both the ladies and gentlemen. Personally, the high polished finishing across the case and bezel adds very nicely to the minimalist vibes. It almost feels like it could have been a nice artsy piece in a show room with this mirror like, reflective finish all around. This elevates the piece to feel more luxurious and avant-garde that aesthetically could make the piece significantly priced higher than its current price point.
The only bit of texture on the case comes from the crown which is knurled for better grip and is finished with the ‘Von Buren’ emblem on its tip. As you peer into the bezel, it is the only part of the case that has some dimension with raised markers which adds some texture in what seems like a bold move not often seen on Squale pieces, except maybe the 1521 Onda, which has raised Arabic numerals on the bezel.
However, on this piece it is both refreshing and different to see raised markers. The bezel is fitted with 12 rivets that are slightly raised, giving off an industrial feel. Even the markers compliment the piece in simply being muted in the same shade as the bezel except for 4 points. The 12 o’clock pip is covered in lume and with the 15, 30 and 45 minute markers printed in black and slightly raised higher that the other 8 markers to allow it to be more evident and garner more attention in an almost seemingly minimal piece. The bezel rotates like a dream; unidirectional in a counter clockwise rotation with 120 clicks. The bezel has very distinct individual clicks, with a good amount of pressure needed to facilitate the rotation; you can tell it is sturdy and equal parts tough. The side of the bezel is given some texture with the coin edged finishing. This is very welcomed as it is placed nicely in juxtaposition to a finely polish case that adds some dimension making the piece feel very contemporary and elevated.
Sometimes less is more. This is evident for the LAB Edizione 1 and is clearly the case. Gnomon and Squale have managed to conceptualise the fundamental beauty and notion of watch making. The dial is clean, minimal, and unpretentious. With its monochromatic hues of black and white/silver, it allows every aspect to be taken in at a glance.
If you are asking yourself again how does this piece look like a Squale? Very evidently as the style of the hands and the iconic second hand with the rectangular lume box used in the LAB Edizione 1. The designs of the hands are staple and rudimentary aspect of most Squale pieces through history and even now. A key point that is sought after in a dive watch is legibility and especially in low light conditions. The LAB Edizione 1 is fitted with a generous amount of lume on the dials and hands which ticks that box as well. One may not necessarily associate the style of this piece to that of a traditional dive watch but you have that option if you ever decide to take this piece on a dive. To further put your mind at ease if you were to take it on a dive, it comes with a sapphire crystal that is treated with an anti-reflective coating on the underside to ensure a good level of resistance to scratches.
Instead of having lume markers or plots, the LAB 1 Edizione has thrown all caution to the wind and has opted to embrace another peculiar style of lume. In a spherical fashion on the dial at the location where it matches up with the minute hand and where the ends of the second hand sweeps on the outer ring of the lume circle would be where you can find it. The ‘circle’ of lume is only broken or ends and starts on either ends, at the 6 o’clock position where in its place a date window is. Very intricately and symmetrically balanced, the bottom of date window is aligned with the position of the lume circle. The date window then slightly peaks above the top end of the lume circle which allows the date to be slightly elongated and making it visible and legible from all angles. At the 12 o’clock the name ‘SQUALE’ is shown in the style and fashion as it has always been, keeping to its tradition.
In what can only seem like the quintessential balance and sophistication in mind the words “Swiss” and “Made” are split and shown on either side of the date window. It is a very nice touch to show that some real thought has gone into the design. To the untrained eye, however, as simple as it may seem, there is a real level of style and complexity going on in the designing of this piece.
Overall, the design of the lume ring when it is shining in its full glory in darkness is quite spectacular and like nothing I have seen before. I have had pieces that are absolute lume beasts but none give off such a unique design and distinctive look as the LAB Edizione 1. If you are a lume fanatic, this alone should get you itching to get your hands on one. Mind you that even with all the modern style, flair and finishing this is a dive watch and it is not only a good looker but tough cookie as it backs it up with a water resistance of up to 500 meters.
Movement & Strap
Powering the Squale LAB Edizione 1 is a very reliable Swiss movement from Sellita, to be precise the SW200-1 automatic movement with 25 jewels. The SW200-1 has the very sought after hacking movement and as well can be hand wound. Going into the movement more technically, it has a 4 hertz beat rate of 28,800 beats per hour. This is one of the most well received and widely used automatic Swiss movements due to its great value and being a notable workhorse movement that has a proven track record and has works very well for many years to come. It is fitted with a screwed down case back and it boasts the usual finish seem on Squale pieces. With the centre having a wave pattern laser etched along with some key details of the piece and the Squale name with shark logo along with the model 50 Atmos Professional in focus.
The strap of choice accompanying this piece is a rubber strap with a criss-cross pattern fitted with quick release spring bars. The rubber is a great choice which compliments any dive watch nicely and works well for a day in the office or out on the beach. On the flip side of the strap, it is smoothly finished and wears really comfortably, feels cool and light on the skin and especially well in a sweltering country like Singapore. The buckle also is signed off with the ‘Von Buren’ emblem.
With a forward thinking, industrial design that is minimal and in every essence is a Squale dive watch, you have something really unique and distinctive. It borders on dressy and yet is a functional dive watch, so in essence you get the best of both worlds. In a market filled with many similar styled looking pieces, this one turns your head for all the right reasons.
The only fault I may have with this piece is perhaps that having the crown at the 4 o’clock and curved lugs make it a little hard to screw the crown but even that seems like a bone of minor contention at this point. With a price point of approximately 1300 SGD with taxes for an extremely refreshing design from Squale unlike anything they have made before. Fitted with a reliable Swiss movement, 500M water resistant and only having 200 of these pieces made only, rendering it almost irresistible for a budding watch collector such as me.