Whenever most of us hear or see the words Marina Militare, the name Panerai immediately pops into our heads. But there is more to the Italian Navy’s watch story than its connection to Panerai. Back in the 1980s, the Italian Navy and Squale had a partnership. The brand was the official watch supplier to the La Spezia Scuba Diving Corp. Both parties worked on dive watches according to specific requests of the Navy. Forty years later, Squale brings back one of those classics and updates it to become a serious modern dive watch that also has a ton of style. Time for a hands-on with the Squale Master Marina Militare.

First impressions can be deceiving. At a first quick glance, the all-new Squale Master Marina Militare looked like a “normal” addition to the line-up with a rather minimalist bezel. But as soon as I took the watch out of the case it comes in, I found out this is not your normal Squale diver. Both in specs and details, this is a special Squale model. The Master Marina Militare was created in collaboration with the Italian Navy like the watches were four decades ago. Squale will produce 300 pieces of this special edition that impresses with a number of great features.

A modern version of a classic

First off, the watch comes with a 42mm brushed stainless steel case. Only when I took it out of its special-edition packaging did I notice that this is a big boy. The case is 17mm thick and comes equipped with a helium escape valve (HEV). The lug-to-lug is 49mm and the lug width comes in at 20mm. So this is not your average Squale diver at all. Additionally, the watch features a 4mm-thick sapphire crystal that is treated with an anti-reflective coating. As a result of the technical improvements, the watch is water-resistant up to an impressive 1,200 meters.

It’s a step up from the iconic Squale Master that was introduced in the late 1960s. That watch was “only” water-resistant to 1,000 meters. Over time, the Squale Master became one of the brand’s most famous models used by free divers like Jacques Mayol and Enzo Maiorca. Mayol, as you may or may not know, later went on to have his own line of dive watches with Omega. The Squale Master, however, was well known for being a reliable dive tool for professionals. On top of that, the watch was instantly recognizable. It had a rotating bicolor bakelite bezel with two luminous markers at 6 and 12 o’clock for readability, as well as a screw-down crown at 4 o’clock. This new version of the Master is based on the models that Squale created with the Italian Navy in the 1980s.

Impressive details based on functionality

Lookswise, you can see that the model is shaped after the 1980s classics. The shape of the case is angular and features some great details. The lug shape does remind me of the classic skin divers and gives the case character. What I also like is the contrast between the round bezel and the angles of the case sides. It makes for an exciting exercise in shapes. Another great detail is how the screw-down crown is integrated into the case at 4 o’clock. Despite the 17mm thickness of the watch, there are plenty of nice little details to be found that I absolutely adore.

Another standout feature is the unidirectional 120-click bezel with its black brushed-steel inlay. The only thing present on the inlay is the triangle at 12 o’clock in Super-LumiNova. The reason the bezel comes without a diving scale is that the elite divers of the military diving corps only track the hours of their long dives and not the minutes. What we end up with is a minimalist black inlay that features nice graining for a great effect. At first glance, you would think it is a design exercise like on a Unimatic Modello Uno. But when you read the story, it makes sense. Why incorporate elements that you do not need? They can only distract from what you do need.

The Squale sandwich dial is a hidden treasure

The black dial has a “sandwich” construction that is simple but nicely executed. The hour markers underneath the matte black dial are executed in Super-LumiNova for great visibility in darker lighting conditions. The design of the dial features the Squale logo and model name on the upper half in white. The lower half features the Marina Militare branding in orange. In size, they are almost equal, but the orange text definitely stands out because of its color. The date window is neatly positioned at 3 o’clock.

The wide pencil-style hands for the hours and minutes are different in color. The hour and seconds hands are executed in steel with a brushed finish, and the minute hand is finished in bright orange. All three are filled with Super-LumiNova. Overall, the dial design is simple and very effective, but it fits the overall aesthetic to a tee. The Tropical-style rubber strap completes the look perfectly.

The Italian Navy coat of arms

If you turn the watch around, you are greeted by the Italian Navy coat of arms engraved on the screw-down case back. Additionally, it features a limited edition number out of the 300 pieces that will be produced in total. Underneath the case back, Squale equipped the Master Marina Militare with the automatic Sellita SW 200-1 movement in elaboré grade. The movement operates at 28,800vph, has 26 jewels, and provides 38 hours of power reserve.

The elaboré-grade version of the movement has an accuracy of  ±7 seconds to ±20 seconds per day. As most of you will know, the movement is used for a lot of different watches from both small and big brands. It is a great workhorse caliber that will undoubtedly power this Squale properly.

Wearing the Squale Master Marina Militare

As you’ve guessed, this is not a watch for the faint-hearted. If you have small wrists, this is definitely not for you. With its 42mm diameter and 17mm height, it is a big boy on the wrist. As I am a tall, big guy, that didn’t bother me. However, that was only after wearing the watch for a bit because I usually do not wear watches that thick. Once I got used to the dimensions and weight, I really enjoyed wearing it. We would’ve loved to share the wrist shots, of course, but due to technical issues, unfortunately, they were lost. Believe me, though, it is a fun watch to wear. Not necessarily because it’s quite a massive chunk of steel. No, mostly because I love this dressed-down design of the Master Marina Militare. It is a rather stealthy dive watch, and I love that about this special edition.

Already gone

The Squale Master Marina Militare was available for CHF 1,200 (excluding VAT) in a special IP67-certified protective case with the Marina Militare logo and coat of arms on the lid and an additional black NATO strap inside. Unfortunately, the watch has already sold out at this point. All 300 pieces have found their way to Squale enthusiasts. If you were able to pick one up and are still awaiting delivery, hopefully, this review gave you a good idea of what to expect. For me, it’s one of my favorite pieces that the brand has ever created, and it really grew on me quickly after getting used to its size. Now that I have seen this, I want more like it!

For more information about Squale, visit the brand’s official website. And if you were one of the lucky 300 people who snagged one, let us know in the comments.

Follow me on Instagram: @jorgweppelink | @fratellowatches

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