Appeared in DIVER October 2007

John John Bantin has been a full-time professional diving writer and underwater photographer since 1990. He makes around 300 dives each year testing diving equipment.


THE PRESTIGE, AS ANYONE WHO SAW THE MOVIE of the same name knows, is that final
part of an illusionists performance when he magically brings back whatever he has made disappear. It comes from praestigiae, the Latin for sleight of hand or magic trick, as presumably does hey presto!
Of course, today prestige means something quite different, and I am sure that Mares was thinking more in terms of a reputation due to rank or success when it so named its latest regulator. Prestige is also associated with glamour. Perhaps thats why they sent an early version to me to try!
Putting aside the name, this is a regulator with an entry-level price that promises big performance.

First stage
The Prestige has a diaphragm first stage with the full complement of ports arranged around
a large and chunky fixed barrel. This can result in some tortuous hose routeings.
The outlet for the primary second stage has Mares-patented Dynamic Flow Control (DFC) with an oversized port. There are two high-pressure ports. Thanks to the diameter of the barrel, there was certainly sufficient space between them to allow me to use an air-integrated transmitter for my computer.

Second stage
In common with other Mares second stages, this one has no knobs to twiddle. It uses a bypass tube to bring air directly to the mouthpiece rather than allowing big flows of gas past the back of the front pressure-sensing diaphragm.
The consequent venturi effect in that case can result in a pressure drop, the diaphragm being pushed in and exponential free-flows.
Apart from the valve mechanism, the unit is made from thermoplastics, so its very lightweight. The front has small holes to allow water into the diaphragm but its quite good at stopping the effect caused by swimming head-on into a strong current.
I was gratified to find that the mouthpiece was quite robust, unlike the floppy mouthpieces often supplied with Mares regulators I have tried in the past.

Purge Control
The front of the second stage in the form in which it was supplied to me is going to be changed, but I imagine the changes will be more cosmetic than functional.
As it was, the purge button fell easily to hand and worked effectively.

I used the Prestige with air to a depth of 40m. There was plenty of air, but delivered in quite a narrow column. This had the effect of feeling a little artificial, like a jet of air, rather than flooding into my mouth in a more natural way.
It didnt help that I had the unit on a tank Y-valve alongside what is probably the best-performing regulator in the world - which happens to cost more than four times as much as the Mares MR12T Prestige.

Divernet Divernet

PRICE around 180
PORTS 2hp, 3mp, 1DFC
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