Cool styling is one selling point of a new range of cycling sunglasses by Vallon, but there’s a lot more to the story including the use of recycled materials, a lifetime warranty, and quality Carl Zeiss lenses…


Words and photos by Rob Arnold


Vallon isn’t exactly a common name in the cycling realm but you can expect to see a bit more of it in 2024 now that a new range of sport-specific eyewear has been launched. The ‘Watchtowers’ are available online via the Vallon site (RRP in Feb 2024: 139 euros) with three colourways: silver/blue (pictured), black/smoke, or teal/copper.

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

From dispatch to delivery in Australia took just seven days. When the sunglasses that were sent for review arrived, they were promptly pulled out of the robust packaging – which comes complete with polish bag and three choices of nose pads – and admired.

Plenty of sunglasses look good on the racks or in the box but that doesn’t always translate to a good fit on your face, or an appropriate match to your helmet. The Watchtowers tick those boxes, and I also found there were a few clever considerations that made them ideal for cycling.

With arms that curve down slightly as they reach your ears, they have a firm fit and don’t interfere with the straps on my helmet of choice at the moment (KASK Protone Icon). And while there is minimal noticeable difference between the various sizes for the (easily removable) nose pieces, I opted for the ‘medium’… while keeping the ‘small’ and ‘large’ in my spares bag just in case.

What stood out on my first ride wearing the Watchtowers is the quality of the lenses (as you’d expect, considering the price tag) but also how the fit is slightly different to what I’ve become accustomed to. The top portion of the frames is positioned away from the forehead. This means the sunglasses match the helmet well, but I also found that it limited fogging when I was idle on the bike.

Even when it was hot and I’d worked up quite a sweat, the position of these sunglasses – which offer a little extra space from my face – allows for good airflow and clear vision.

Already there was something to like about the Watchtowers. But I also rate the large styling, which is in keeping with the oversized trend that is part of the contemporary cycling aesthetic.

Made from recycled fishing nets

What’s not apparent from a quick glimpse of the photos, however, is the approach taken by Vallon to use recycled materials while also committing to reducing plastic waste.

“We hope you will love your new Watchtowers,” reads a small card inside the packaging. “We are pleased to say that one kilogram of plastic waste will be collected and recycled thanks to your purchase.”

It’s a noble idea. So too is another detail about these sunglasses – ie. that the frames are made of ‘Nylon 6’, which Vallon says is produced using “85% recycled fishing nets”.

You’ll see more of these sunglasses as they are already part of my ‘favourites’ selection. They have managed the heat and humidity of Sydney summer days, without fogging up or falling off my face (or from my helmet storage vents) while riding. And, I’m pleased to report, they also stopped a cicada from plunging into my eye while riding at around 70km/h on a descent in the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.

The Watchtowers were used during a couple of rides while on a recent trip to the Snowy Mountains and although I was well coated in sunscreen the claim of an ‘eleophobic’ coating on the lens was put to the test. (And yes, I did need to Google it – discovering that it means ‘anti-smudge’.) Note: the lenses are also said to be hydrophobic, a claim offered by many manufacturers over the years – but, as I’ve come to learn, it doesn’t mean you will never have to wipe your sunnies clean.

At some point on a long ride, there is going to be some fog or sunscreen smear… and while that has happened while using the Watchtowers, it wasn’t often and the lenses were easily polished to look like new again.

It has been a season of insect incidents for me: plenty of stings and multiple occasions when I’ve had to stop suddenly to remove a bee (and even a wasp) from my helmet before resuming my ride. This is one reason why I habitually use eyewear while on the bike. Still, I confess, there are plenty of times when my sunnies are stored in the helmet vents, and the Watchtowers slotted into the openings on my Protone Icon without any fuss, and with plenty of surety.

There is plenty to like about these sunglasses and, even if it’s not a name you’re familiar with, it’s worth exploring the Vallon site to see if there’s a style that catches your attention.

And finally, Vallon is confident enough in the durability of the sunglasses that they offer a lifetime warranty. If they get damaged, you get a new pair.