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February 2006 Vol. 32, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Apeks Tungsten Regulator: bling bling

from the February, 2006 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The British company that brought us the “limited edition” Black Pearl regulator has brought another high-end model to American divers: the ATX200 Tungsten regulator. The product is being promoted abroad with ads extolling its “extremely hard, low-friction Diamond PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) coating finish.”

Despite its name, the regulator does not contain tungsten. Tom Phillipp, product manager for Aqua Lung America, which distributes Apeks products in the U.S., told Undercurrent that while the new satiny finish is much harder than the standard chrome plating, “Tungsten refers to the color only.” But from a marketing standpoint, it sounds a lot sexier than gray-white, the color of tungsten. Of course, the Atomic regulator isn’t atomic. Nor does the Henderson Gold Core wetsuit lining contain gold.

The new Tungsten model is, in effect, the popular Apeks ATX200 (rated second only to the Atomic M1 among high-end regulators by Britain’s DIVE magazine). It differs only because it is coated with a titanium/zirconium/chromium compound and is designed to achieve “extreme protection and high resistance to wear.” DIVE, the journal of the British Sub-Aqua Club, tested it under extreme conditions and even ran over it with an inflatable boat on a trailer. The Tungsten passed the magazine’s toughest test ever, according to the editors. Their conclusion: “The chances of destroying this regulator while diving are practically nil.” Which raises the question: Aren’t the chances of destroying a regulator while diving practically nil anyhow?”

John Bantin, technical editor of Britain’s DIVER magazine, says the Tungsten’s “inhalation characteristics cannot be faulted.” But he was unhappy that the undersized exhaust tee sent exhaled bubbles directly in front of his face when trying to shoot photos. Still, he says that the unit has “all the characteristics and features you might expect of a top regulator.”

There is no question that the ATX200 is an exceptional regulator, which makes the ATX200 Tungsten with its coat of many metals equally exceptional. But, Bantin asks, “If a regulator can give you as much air as you need, what’s the difference?” Well, cachet for one thing. When he unpacked his Tungsten on a Red Sea trip, Bantin said its distinctive finish elicited comments like “trust you to have the best,” while another diver asked “What’s wrong with an ordinary regulator?’”

In the U.S., the Tungsten lists for $765, $70 more than the everyday ATX200, not a lot if you’re so fastidious that avoiding scratches on your regulator housing is important. But as Bantin put it, this baby “marks the user as someone who demands bling.” Make that bling bling.

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