In the past, I have been put off from buying Antares products after purchasing an absolutely atrocious laser collimator from them. Perhaps it's unfair to brand a company off of just one of its products and so when a friend from my local astronomy club offered me a selection of Antares Speer-WALER eyepieces for a heavily knocked down price I thought it was time to bury the hatchet and give Antares one last go.
The first and most notable thing about this eyepiece, I first tried the 17mm in my 12 inch skyliner Dobsonian telescope, the focuser doesn't have enough outward travel so I was never able to even get near focusing with the big scope. Luckily, I have a selection of other telescopes at present so I simply popped it into my 5 inch refractor (which has a focuser with enormous back travel). In the refractor focus was achieved perfectly. With these eyepieces more than any other I would suggest trying before you buy, £150 would be a lot to spend to find out your focuser won't handle it.
I put this problem down to the large amount of elements (lenses) used to get the 82 degrees field of view, a total of 9 lenses are used, which does make the S-Waler quite heavy at 340grams (0.7 lb). Weight can become an issue when you switch to a much lighter eyepiece as it unbalances your scope and can send it plummeting towards the ground of it's own accord.
So what is it like to look through a Speers-WALER? Well luckily this is where the review takes a massive turn for the better. Once you have it in an appropriate telescope the 82 degree field makes you feel as if you're actually there, floating alongside your favourite galaxy or nebula.
A potential drawback of such a wide 82 degrees of field is image degradation towards the outer portions of the field, this is almost completely absent from the S-Waler, only in the last 5-10% of the field do you experience a slight blurring of an otherwise crisp and sharp image.
The 17mm has a very nice 13mm of eye relief making it a comfortable eyepiece to look through, a large fold up rubber cup stops any local light pollution from reaching your sensitive pupil.
I have to say that I was impressed with the optical quality of the Speers-Waler, it provided nice and contrasty views with a lovely 82 degree field . However, I don't know many Astronomers who would be willing to invest in a new focuser potentially costing hundreds of pounds just to accomodate this eyepiece, especially when for the same price you could buy a William Optics UWAN eyepiece that exceeds the SW in every way and costs exactly the same amount. The UWAN has no such problem with focusing and performs better than the Waler in every way.
To conclude, a good eyepiece that would be getting a full recomendation from me if it didn't have that rather unforgiveable problem with some focusers. My advice, go for the UWAN, it's safer and outperforms the Speers-Waler for the same amount of money.