June 7, 2010
by Ariel Adams
It is also available with a black dial. Just wanted to make that clear to all of you out there who think the dial is too loud – I tend to like it though. The rich red is evenly applied in the bowl shaped dial – while the jet black and green SuperLumiNova C3 luminant tones on the dial give the watch face a real pop. You really can’t go anywhere without people noticing your loud red watch. This is the newest Reactor Gamma watch. It now comes in a titanium case with a titanium bracelet, and with Reactor’s “Never Dark (ND) Technology.” These two additional elements really take the timepiece to a new level. In my opinion, the Gamma is probably the strongest piece in Reactor’s current line up, and I think it will appeal to many people. Reactor is an American brand, and their designs represent a mixture of aggressive style, colors influenced by beach-side surfer culture, and atomic power! In fact, aside from the “Gamma,” other Reactor products have names like the “Critical Mass, Photon, Meltdown, Fusion, etc…” Terms you’d associate used to describe nuclear power and related “atomic” concepts in textbooks and comic books. In fact, there is sort of a youthful comic book style fun in each of the brand’s timepieces.
Reactor has a steady following from lots of active and service professionals – not to mention sport activity enthusiasts. The idea is to create watches that can put up with your lifestyle, while also communicating something about your lifestyle. These are meant to be fun, functional watches. And fun watches you can rely on. The complex curves and style of the case are faithfully rendered in titanium. While the steel version is about 200 grams, the titanium version is 130 grams, and has that slightly darken tone of titanium. The case style can take a little bit of getting used to. It isn’t an ordinary look – but that is part of the point. The file-like textured pieces on the bracelet and bezel aren’t rough to the touch at all, and provide of a bit of a sparkle in the light. It makes for cool look. One thing that is likely to occur after wearing the watch for years is to have sections of the file-like texture wear down a bit where the areas rub against things. This is due to the softer qualities of titanium as a metal.
Taking the entire design as a whole, when it comes down to it, you either see it spending time on your wrist or not. Most all Reactor watches are designed to really appeal to a few, rather than be merely OK to the whole. The case is 45.5mm wide and doesn’t wear very large due to the thickness of the bezel. The curved lugs help the watch wear on smaller wrists (like mine), and it feels like a very good size for the design. There are built in crown guards, and a nice Reactor logo embossed on the crown. The case back of the watch is interesting. It screws on and is done in a way that you can use a standard caseback removal tool to screw it off. While its design might leave you thinking that it would be strange to wear – the caseback feels like it may as well be perfectly flat while wearing it.
I’ve come to appreciate the bezel design – even though it is certainly different. It is actually very easy to turn, maybe easier than some people might like. At the same time, it isn’t at all loose. Some bezels will wiggle around when you move a watch around – not this bezel. Although it moves around the bezel in 120 clicks with easy, it is pretty solid when you aren’t touching it. When I was swimming in the ocean with the watch, the Gamma got a little bit of sand in the bezel that mucked it up a bit. A quick rinse with the watch on it side while moving the bezel got the sand out though. Speaking of while, the watch was great to have in the ocean. It didn’t slide around on my wrist or get in the way, and was easy to see underwater as well.
The Gamma watch case is 300 meters water resistant and built for duty. It has a mineral crystal that a lot of you aren’t going to like the sound of. While sapphire crystals are preferred, there is at least one advantage to mineral crystals (aside from being cheaper), they won’t shatter. Plus, reactor uses the best type of mineral crystals known as K1 mineral crystals (which are tempered mineral glass, not merely hardened glass). Hit a sapphire crystal hard enough and it breaks like glass. Mineral crystals instead break like a rock – insofar that pieces of it will chip off it you strike it hard enough. The crystal also has a lot of AR coating on it for a really clear, glare-free view of the dial. The dial itself is easy to read by my accounts. The hour indicators are large and easy to see. There are minute hash markers around the flange ring, and the “Never Dark” use of double luminants works well. Never Dark just means that Reactor uses both traditional light-charged luminant, and tritium gas tubes to light up the dial. This ensures that the dial is “never dark.” Traditional luminant will initially be brighter than gas tubes is charged enough, but as they fade out, the gas tubes won’t fade at all. Well, at least not for 20-25 years. There are tritium gas tubes in the hands, and at four corners around the dial. The hands are different in the Gamma Ti than in the steel version of the watch. They are very easy to read, but I would have likely Reactor to make them look a bit different (like in the steel versions). This is partially because they don’t vary in size as much as some minute and hour hands do.
Reactor uses a Japanese quartz movement in the watch – that has a day and date complication. The battery has a 10 year lifespan – which is quite convenient (and likely a good selling point for the watch). The titanium bracelet is comfortable and provides little to complain about. It tapers from the lugs down a bit to the clasp. The bracelet starts out pretty thick at 28mm wide, down to 22mm wide. Reactor uses a nice signed triple locking, push-button deployment clasp which operates smoothly. I like that the clasp has the brand name and logo engraved into it. I had a problem when sizing the bracelet though. It uses pin that you need to hammer out. Problem was that the pins were really, really snug in the bracelet. It required a lot of work to get them out. Getting one pin out actually broke a link cause it was “in there so good.” I didn’t need the link as it was one I was removing, but I worried a bit about people who would be sizing the bracelet themselves and getting frustrated. Basically, I recommend taking the watch into a professional to get it sized. And I mean a professional. Not some schmuck who shines shoes and is a certified notary public, while they also change batteries, and size watch bracelets. No offense if you do any or all of the above, I doubt you do them all at the same time.
Reactor really amused me with the container their watches come in. In addition to holding a new watch, it doubles as a beer cozy. Enough said. The Reactor Gamma Ti watches retail for $550 with the titanium bracelet, and $525 with a rubber strap. The older steel model without the tritium gas tubes run $350 – $400.