In terms of materials, a lot has changed in the last couple of decades concerning watches. It was first titanium that asserted its place next to precious metals and stainless steel before ceramic became a more common material. Then there was carbon. While this material offers quite a few advantages and can be worked with in different ways, it has yet to be fully embraced by the industry. Some brands have experimented with it, yet a full-scale deployment into their collections has yet to be seen. While this may be a pity, it makes the material even more exotic, although that is not the only aspect that makes it so appealing.
Squale is one of the brands that have used this material in their collection. Some might remember the last edition of Baselworld, where the brand launched their T-183 with a case of layered black carbon fiber with blue or red fiberglass. It was an incredibly appealing watch that now gets a second chapter with the T-183 Forged Carbon. Unlike its predecessor, it is the way of making the case slightly different. Carbon fibers are placed in a mold and mixed with a resin. Temperature and pressure ‘forge’ it into a material that is light and very strong. As the carbon fibers are never placed in the same way into the mold, each case will show a different pattern, further underscoring the unique nature of the watch.
Several things make this T-183 stand out. Machining the blocks of forged carbon fiber is quite a task, but Squale puts remarkable care into them, ensuring a very high-grade finish, even beyond what can be expected at this price point. The curves are soft and smooth, giving the watch a sophisticated look that becomes understated thanks to its matte finish. One of the benefits of (forged) carbon fiber is that it is very light, yet the T-183 does not take full advantage of this. Instead, Squale put a steel housing inside the carbon fiber case to further increase the watch’s durability and ensure superb water resistance up to 60 ATM. As it is a diving watch, weight is also less of a concern, as the T-183 will still feel quite light underwater. However, as a ‘desk diver,’ it has a pleasant weight to it. Ironically, Squale cleverly avoids with this also the flimsy feeling that some other carbon watches can give their owners.
While Squale is a brand with a rich heritage in the field of serious diving watches, and in their current collection, this is also all they do, the T-183 is slightly the odd one out. While it most certainly isn’t afraid of water, other models from the brands’ lineup are more practical companions when you actually go diving. This is mainly due to the ceramic bezel insert, which looks great, but is not that easy to read. Above water, this is more a pro than a con as it looks amazing, in particular in combination with the stainless steel bezel, which, just like the case back, crown and buckle, has been equipped with a black Diamond-Like Carbon coating. For the dial, Squale opted for a dark grey, which highlights the grey tones in the forged carbon fiber case. The colored minute hand and Squale logo are available in orange or blue, each giving a touch of their own to the watch. They are matched by the lacquered sides of the case.
With this T-183 Squale proves once more what a comfortable position four o’clock is for the crown. It is connected to a Sellita SW 200 automatic movement that ticks inside the case. Squale opted for the ‘Elaborè’ finish of this movement, which means that it features blued screws, Geneva striping, and engine-turned decorations that you most likely will never see. While the watch is 42mm in diameter, it wears slightly smaller on the wrist. In fact, while it is most definitely a diving watch, the forged carbon fiber and ceramic bezel give the T-183 an elegant touch. Even in combination with a suit, it will stand its ground in a James Bond-ish kind of way.
What is also remarkable is that Squale offers the T-183 for just $1,250, when converted to USD. Normally I don’t have much of an opinion about the prices of watches unless I find them unexplainable high or, like this Squale, competitively low. The T-183 is priced $50 lower than the iconic 1521 Classic COSC Certified. Given the extensive use of exotic materials and coating, the very high-quality finish, and the obvious care with which this watch is designed and made, I am inclined to call it quite a bang for your buck. Stronger terms have entered my mind, but I am reluctant to put these in writing, as Squale might also be reading this article for themselves.
More information on the T-183 can be found on the website of Squale