A LONG TIME AGO, so long ago that I prefer not to think how long it was, I bought my first new vehicle. At the time I was considering a Renault 4 van. A passing acquaintance at that time, a chap called Michael Green, advised me not to waste my money, and to get a Rolls-Royce. I thanked him for his advice and pursued my original idea. Today, I am a diving journalist and he has just given up the chairmanship of Carlton Communications.
     You think small and you stay small! The people at Atomic Aquatics have taken the grander view on how to run their business. Instead of quick profits from products made down to a price, they entered the marketplace with a top-spec regulator, the all-titanium Atomic T1.
     It was so good that everyone wanted one, but so expensive that few could afford to buy it. But it got them a reputation, and after proving what they could do with titanium, they went on to do the same thing with Monel and stainless steel, and produced the Atomic M1 for use with nitrox.
     It virtually cleaned up the opposition in terms of desirability during Divers last comparative top-of-the-range regulator test.
     The key to the success of the Atomic brand seems to be not to make things particularly different but to make them better. Naturally, that comes with a price premium. I am particularly fond of reminding people that companies such as Rolex did not suffer at the time of the Japanese quartz-watch revolution, when many lesser traditional Swiss watch manufacturers went under.
     Thats because there will always be a buyer for a better product, and that long-term business view is paying off for both Rolex and Atomic. Atomic claims that the past 12 months has seen its business boom, and the Atomic B2 has now been added to the product line-up.
     The B2 is a second-generation design which combines a new second stage that has an all-titanium mechanism with the previously available B1 chromed-brass and 316 stainless-steel first stage.
     At first glance the Atomic first stage looks superficially old Scubapro, with its tall turret flow-through piston-type design, but even the no-expense-spared quality of the chroming gives away the difference.
     Inside, there is a unique high-pressure piston-seal system that is self-lubricating and virtually leak-free. It is supplied ready for use with nitrox mixes up to 40% and is rated for 300 bar use, provided you specify the appropriate DIN connection.
     The compact second stage has a thoughtfully shaped exhaust-T that is wide enough to push exhaled air past and away from your mask. The soft front shroud allows access to the purge, and no doubt proud owners will be constantly unscrewing the front to show off the quality of the internal components to their friends.
     Because high-performance regulators are often unstable, with a tendency to free-flow easily, some other manufacturers add venturi switches and other controls so that the divers can stabilise them if they need to.
     Atomic has designed in a pressure-sensitive aerofoil positioned within the airflow that automatically adjusts as the regulator is taken deeper, thus adjusting performance and stability of the regulator to suit. In effect, it tunes itself to match conditions.
     Another detail that can make all the difference to your satisfaction levels is the way the seat in the second-stage poppet valve of the B2, in common with its siblings, makes contact with the valve orifice only when the regulator is pressurised.
     Other regulators leave the poppet permanently positioned up against the hard edge of the orifice and held there by the spring. This has the effect of wearing a groove and can often explain why a regulator, put away in perfect working order at the end of a season, can leak air when you get it out again a few months later.
     There is a neatly designed breathing-resistance adjustment knob which can be used to increase the cracking-pressure needed to pull open the valve - or you could just inhale more gently.
     With so much in common, what is the advantage of the B2 over other Atomic models Using titanium in parts of the second stage makes it extremely lightweight in the mouth, and corrosion-free. The lower gas pressures present in a second stage mean that it is still suitable for use with nitrox up to 40%.
     Another very visible innovation is the highly polished stainless-steel swivel-joint positioned in-line where the hose meets the second stage. This idea is not new, but in the past such swivel-joints have tended to ruin a regulators performance.
     This one is much bulkier in outward appearance than those that I have seen previously and I am assured that it would not impede the air-flow.
     I am inclined to believe this assurance. I am not an ANSTI machine, but I could detect no loss of performance while under water, whereas I certainly could the last time I tried a lesser version on another brand of regulator.
     The swivel joint allows the hose to take a natural curve without dragging the regulator mouthpiece from your grip. Not that the beautifully designed mouthpiece is difficult to hold on to. Atomic has even designed its own, which seems to be just that bit nicer than any other manufacturers.
     Only lash out on this purchase if you are serious about diving, and also prepared to lash out on getting to places where the water is colder than a flooded slate quarry in winter! Atomic owners can afford that.
     Without doing a side-by-side comparison with any other regulator, it is difficult to judge exactly how good the Atomic B2 is.
     However, it is one of the best I have used in terms of comfort and general ease of breathing. It seemed to give me a dry breathe at all angles, even when I was completely inverted, and exhaled bubbles were always nicely routed away from my face.
     The only fault I could detect was a faint whistling emitting at times from the first stage.
     I never found this regulator wanting in the amount it could supply, yet it was discreet and subtle in its delivery. There were no sudden and dramatic rushes of air - it flowed. It was sublime.
     Added to the fact that it is a jewel in the way it is made, any purchaser is likely to be a proud and long-time owner. Atomic is confident. It offers a life-time warranty to the original purchaser. Think big.
Get it to special order and expect to pay around £450.

  • Atomic Aquatics, 001714 375 1433, www.atomicaquatics.com

  • Divernet Divernet
    + One of the very best in almost every way
    + Original buyers lifetime manufacturers warranty

    - Expensive
    - Not intended for use in cold fresh water