Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reactor Fallout Chronograph Review

I became interested in Reactor watches after encountering an article about them in Watchtime a while back. The company is run by Jimmy Olmes, formerly of Freestyle watches. Reactor's website states that their goal is to build the best performance sports watch, a lofty goal indeed.

Reactor takes an interesting approach to marketing their watches. As is obvious from the company's name, there is a strong nuclear theme to their products. All of their watches carry names related to atomic power and in some cases, like my Fallout model, atomic power gone wild. According to Watchtime, this was done to highlight the high quality lume that Reactor employs on its products (Including one model that I know of that mixes tritium tubes with a very strong coat of superluminova. That sounds particularly enticing to me as strong lume is something I've come to appreciate).

On to the watch itself. This thing is seriously built. It is the first watch I've encountered that matches (and in some areas exceeds) a Seiko Monster in the brawn category. Everywhere you look there is heavy, solid stainless steel. The bracelet is a particularly well done all solid link design with a heavily built clasp. The bezel, which includes a bright embedded luminous marker, is large and easy to grip and the screw-down crown is well protected. The crown is interesting by the way. It uses a triple seal and will remain water resistant to 100 meters even if left unscrewed. (Why anyone would forget to close the crown before getting it wet is beyond me but, hey, it doesn't hurt to be idiot proof). Additionally, the watch is rated at 200 meters water resistance, the first chrono I've owned that can go that deep. A final detail about the bracelet by the way, it is held on to the watch by a thick threaded bar/screw that I have heard will support 200 lbs. The threads themselves are coated with urethane to keep them from accidentally unscrewing btw. No chance of breaking a spring bar on this one. The crystal is domed and is made of a thick, hardened mineral glass (not as scratch resistant as sapphire but more shatter resistant in keeping with it's intended sports/roughing-it theme).

Internally, the Fallout is advertised as having a Japanese quartz chronograph movement (I'm almost certain it is a Miyota OS20, a very well regarded movement with a long history of reliability). Accuracy appears to be excellent as is to be expected from a quartz movement. The movement is reported to be mounted in a shock resistant housing for extra protection.

Reactor is proud of their lume application technique and it's not hard to see why. Even a brief exposure to the fluorescent lights of my office produced a strong glow. In my personal time test, the lume remained visible on my nightstand after 8 hours. It may last significantly longer for all I know but that was as long as I could stay in bed. From what I understand, Reactor uses multiple layers of superluminova to ensure that low light visibility is excellent.

The Fallout measures 40mm in diameter (not including the crown or chrono pushers-43mm with them) a hair over 13mm in height and has a 22mm band lug width that appears much wider thanks to the reinforced screw bar attachment system. There are some folks who may feel that 40mm is not that big by today's standards. I would take that with a grain of salt when it comes to the Fallout. There is nothing dainty about this watch at all. If anything, exactly the opposite is true. The overall look of the Fallout says precision tough to my eye. It looks like a serious piece of equipment, and I believe that it is just that. Mind you, Reactor does have some larger models in its arsenal if that appeals to you. I used to be a big watch fan too. After two years of serious exercise (and 40 lbs less of me to lug around) anything much bigger than 40mm looks clownish on me these days. By the way, if you are concerned that the Fallout will wear like a steel brick, don't be. Reactor managed to make a solidly made sports watch that doesn't feel like a handcuff on the wrist. The bracelet is attached in such a way as to distribute the overall mass of this model very comfortably. A lot of thought clearly went into this design.

As you can probably tell by now, I'm very impressed with the Fallout. I have little doubt that it can stand up to most anything I can throw at it. Incidentally, if I do find a way to really hurt the Fallout, Reactor offers an amazingly comprehensive 2 year guaranty on all of their watches. The retail price on the Fallout Chronograph is $300 but, as always, it never hurts to shop around.

As an aside, the box that this watch came in is really nicely done. I don't usually get too excited about the boxes a watch ships in but this one, aside from looking like a nuclear reactor, has a hidden, magnetically sealed, compartment on the bottom for spare links. A very nice touch.
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