IF YOU ARE AN OLDER BRITISH DIVER, you’ll remember the French brand Spiro. Some pages of the British Sub-Aqua Club manual of the mid-1980s looked a bit like the Spiro catalogue.
In the parallel universe that was American diving, another brand, US Divers, held sway.
Both were promoted by that famous French underwater filmmaker, the one who always appeared in his movies wearing a red woolly hat, and who famously said in one of his films: “For the purposes of conservation, it is sometimes necessary to use dynamite!”
That was just before he blew a gap through the reef at Sha’ab Rumi so that he could get his boat, a retired British minesweeper, into a safe mooring.
Of course, the red-hatted French diver was famous, with Emile Gagnan, for bringing us the aqualung, and it wasn’t long before the marketing men realised that this was a major gift as a marketing tool.
Soon, the company gathered together all the disparate brands that it owned under a single umbrella, Aqua Lung. This included Spiro and US Divers; BC marketeer SeaQuest; Technisub, the Italian manufacturer of masks and fins; and a small engineering company in Lancashire that it had bought from its owner, Ken Ainscough.
Ken had made waves among the manufacturing giants when he introduced a regulator that set new standards for a low work of breathing. That company was Apeks.
The marketing men had a problem. Ken’s regulator had received such wide acceptance among the diving fraternity that they were reluctant to submerge it within the parent company. At the same time, Aqua Lung had a huge following, so the brands were forced to continue side by side.
In fact, they had a lot in common. A new Apeks production facility built in Blackburn was also responsible for manufacturing the parts for many Aqua Lung regulators.
So Apeks has the high standing with the cognoscenti, while Aqua Lung is the brand most established worldwide, thanks to the man in the red woolly hat. It was inevitable that there would be some convergence, and the latest Aqua Lung Legend regulator is an early sign of that, even though it was designed and developed in France rather than the UK.

New Legend
The new Legend doesn’t look that different from the old one, apart from being a touch lighter and smaller, and I’m told that the work of breathing is slightly less.
It now comes in three guises: the Legend Supreme; the Legend LX Supreme, with a breathing resistance adjustment knob that enables the user to turn up the cracking pressure needed to pull open the demand valve; and the Legend LUX Supreme.
The latter has the gold bling and comes with a tough PVD finish that promises to keep it looking smart.
Instead of chrome, the metal parts are of a pink gold appearance that looks a bit like bronze. This last costs nearly twice as much as the basic Legend, so anyone can guess which will be the more popular.

First Stage
The first stage is a fixed vertical barrel that has four medium- and two high-pressure ports arranged around its circumference. These are angled away from each other sufficiently to make hose-routeing convenient.
The name “Supreme” denotes that this regulator has been adapted for very cold freshwater use, and a finned heat exchanger does what it is supposed to do, in that it transfers heat from the water to the extremely cold depressurised gas coming from the supply in the tank.
The chamber of the first stage is kept environmentally dry during immersion.
The ACD is the auto-closure device that stops water entering after a dive, should the regulator be dropped in a rinse tank without its dust cap in place. The first stage supplies the second stage with gas by means of a lightweight super-flexible braided hose. However, the first stage is such a massive lump of engineering that the whole thing still comes to 1.3kg in total.

Second Stage
The second stage is a jewel in that it looks small and neat, yet delivers a big punch. There is no venturi +/- switch, as on the most expensive version, the LUX. The designers have got rid of that complication.
The breathing resistance knob has been combined with a foil to stop exponential free-flows. This alters the direction of the flow as well as the cracking effort needed to open the valve. The manufacturer has christened this the Master Breathing System.
The knob is nicely styled and located, and easily gripped even when wearing a thick glove.
The LX has a conventional BRA control. It is apparently impossible to sell a regulator in the USA without this feature.
The standard Legend LX Supreme and Legend Supreme have a conventional venturi +/- switch styled into the design.
Unlike on the previous model, water is allowed to flow onto the pressure-sensing diaphragm of the second stage through slots at the side rather than at the front. This is said to improve sensitivity and performance.
When you need to purge this regulator, it’s nice to find that almost any part of its soft front can be pressed to good effect. It pushes open the demand lever and lets a satisfying stream of gas through.
There is also a choice of mouthpieces. The Comfobite, beloved of those favouring a frontal bite, can easily be substituted for something that lets the back molars do their job. One is supplied, together with an optional lip shield to keep both cold water and jellyfish at bay.
In keeping with its Supreme designation, another finned heat-exchanger is set in the hose where it joins the second stage.

In The Water
What did you expect This is yet another top performer. They are getting so good nowadays that it takes an ANSTI machine to differentiate between the different regulators, and that includes the old Legend as well as the new.
The exhaust port, though small, directed the exhaled gas away from the face in a satisfying manner. If you really think you need the knob to twiddle you’ll need the Legend LX Supreme and, if you want to go one better, it’ll be the Legend LUX Supreme for you.
The LUX Supreme is an attractive, if slightly weighty, bit of kit. But if it’s just the Legend’s unadulterated performance you want, and you are likely to be diving in cold fresh water, the basic Legend Supreme may be all you need.

Apeks XTX 200, £490
Mares Abyss Navy, £500
Scubapro Mk17 A700, £549

PRICE Legend Supreme, £380; LX Supreme, £500; LUX Supreme, £700.
FIRST STAGE Diaphragm-type
PORTS Four mp, two hp
WEIGHT 1.3kg
CONTACT www.aqualung.com
DIVER GUIDE width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100% width=100%