Product Review: Fallon Observation Towers – Carl Zeiss lens + recycled fishing nets

Product Review: Fallon Observation Towers – Carl Zeiss lens + recycled fishing nets

Great design is one of the selling points of a new range of cycling sunglasses from Vallon, but there’s a lot more to the story including the use of recycled materials, a lifetime warranty, and high-quality Carl Zeiss lenses…

Words and photos by Rob Arnold

Vallon isn’t exactly a household name in the cycling world, but you can expect to see more of him in 2024 now that a new range of eyewear dedicated to the sport has been launched. “Watchtowers” are Available online through the Fallon website (RRP February 2024: €139(in three colors: silver/blue)in the picture), black/smoky, or teal/copper.

New for 2024, the Watchtowers are part of a push into the bicycle market by Vallon, a company that says its “spiritual headquarters is in Verbier, Switzerland.”

From dispatch to delivery in Australia it took just seven days. When the sunglasses I was sent for review arrived, they were immediately pulled out of the sturdy packaging — which comes complete with a polishing bag and three choices of nose pads — and admired.

A lot of sunglasses look good on the rack or in the box, but that doesn’t always translate into a good fit on your face, or proper compatibility with your helmet. The observation towers tick these boxes, and I also found that there are some clever considerations that make them ideal for cycling.

With the arms bending down slightly as they reach your ears, it has a stable fit and does not interfere with the straps on your chosen helmet at the moment (KASK PROTON ICON). Although there is little noticeable difference between the different sizes of nose pieces (which are easily removable), I chose the ‘medium’ size… keeping the ‘small’ and ‘large’ sizes in my spares bag just in case.

What stood out on my first trip wearing the Watchtowers was the quality of the lenses (as you’d expect, considering the price) but also how the fit is a little different from what I’m used to. The top of the frames are positioned away from the forehead. This meant that the sunglasses matched the helmet well, but I also found that they were limited in fog when I was idle on the bike.

Even when it was hot and I was sweating profusely, the placement of these sunglasses — which provide a little extra room on my face — allowed for good airflow and clear vision.

There was indeed something to like about the watchtowers. But I also value the oversized design, which is in keeping with the oversized trend that is part of the contemporary cycling aesthetic.

Made from recycled fishing nets

However, what’s not clear from a quick glance at the photos is Fallon’s approach to using recycled materials while also committing to reducing plastic waste.

A small card inside the package read: “We hope you like the new Watchtowers book.” “We are happy to say that One kilogram of plastic waste will be collected and recycled Thanks for your purchase.”

It’s a noble idea. So do other details about these sunglasses – ie. The frames are made of “nylon 6,” which Fallon says was produced using “85% recycled fishing nets.”

You’ll see more of these sunglasses because they’re already part of my “Favorites” selection. They managed the heat and humidity of Sydney summer days, without fogging up or falling off my face (or my helmet storage holes) while riding. And I’m happy to report that they also prevented cicadas from getting into my eyes while driving at about 70 km/h when landing in Ku Reng Gai Chase National Park.

The observation towers were used during two outings during my recent trip to the Snowy Mountains, and although I was well covered with sunscreen, the claim of a “phobic” coating on the lens was put to the test. (And yes, I needed to Google it – to find out that it means “smudge-proof”.) Note: The lenses are also said to be hydrophobic, a claim made by many manufacturers over the years – but, as you’ve come to learn, that doesn’t mean you You’ll never have to wipe your sunglasses clean.

At some point during a long ride, there will be some fog or sunscreen smudge… and although this has happened while using observation towers, it didn’t happen often and the lenses were easily polished to look like new again.

It’s been a season full of insect mishaps for me: lots of stings and multiple occasions when I had to stop suddenly to remove a bee (and even a wasp) from my helmet before resuming my ride. This is one of the reasons I habitually use glasses while cycling. However, I admit that more often than not my sunglasses are stored in helmet slots, and the watchtowers insert into the slots on my Proton Icon without any fuss, and with great assurance.

There’s a lot to like about these sunglasses, and even if they’re not a name you’re familiar with, it’s worth exploring the Vallon website to see if there’s a style that catches your eye.

Finally, Fallon is confident enough in the sunglasses’ durability to offer a lifetime warranty. If they are damaged, you will get a new pair.

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