I bought a Suunto Core watch, in orange. I like climbing, and being in the mountains, so a watch with an altimeter makes at least some sense, which helps me justify the purchase of this rather expensive watch wristop computer.
Suunto is probably best known for their dive computers, both wristop computers, and the kind that attach to a SCUBA diver’s regulator. However, they also make several lines of outdoor / mountain oriented wristop computers. And they have a long history of excellence in manufacturing compasses.
An outdoor, mountain-oriented watch / wristop computer should include a couple of important features:
- It should tell time
- Effective alarm(s)
- Luminescence (push button, generally) for night time use
- Altimeter (this tells your elevation)
- Barometer (for monitoring changes in air pressure, a good signal of impending stormy weather)
- And a bunch of other things like difference measurements, logbooks, “start from zero,” depth measurements (for when you go under water), rotating bezel, button lock, etc.
Truthfully, what initially caught my eye was the look and style of this watch. Many would call it garish. I call it me. I love the color orange, and I think the palette and style of the face itself is magnificent. My affection for the rubbery orange band ebbs and flows, but that’s easy to change. There’s a high-quality double hinge on both the top and bottom bands, which is an incredibly strong mechanism, and a good sign of quality.
If you’re not as into orange as I am, Suunto sells this watch in a number of different guises, both plainer and more grandiose than my selection. (See choices to the left.)
Aside from the aesthetics, this watch packs a lot of impressive features into a small package. Aside from telling time, my favorite feature is the altimeter. It’s necessary to calibrate it correctly; this can be accomplished either by knowing your current elevation and setting it accordingly, or by a trickier method involving the calibration of the barometer function (which is also very cool.) Truthfully, the manual on this sucker is extensive, and I have not quite waded through all of it yet. However, the watch, alarm, calendar, stopwatch, light, button lock, and basic altimeter have all fallen before my wily charms. I also had some help from my wife who is usually cleverer than me when it comes to gadgets, buttons, sequences, and other things requiring both patience and logic. Those are not my strong suits.
It’s fairly large compared to an average wrist watch, though not excessively so. It’s very comfortable, and not overly heavy in spite of its bulk. Sometimes if it slides forward and when I bend my wrist it gets in the way. Also, if I’m resting my hands on the edge of my laptop to type, the band can interfere with my personal ergonomics. Small price to pay for fortune and glory, but it’s an issue nonetheless. It’s also waterproof to 30 meters, which is not diving depth, but certainly has you covered for showers, swimming, or even most snorkeling. For more extensive water activities (like SCUBA) you might look at some of their other products.
This device is not cheap. The retail on the orange model is around $350. The least expensive Core model is $250 (in black and yellow.) You can purchase it through any number of online retailers, including Backountry.com. If you want to see one in person, REI carries them, and many high-end, well stocked outdoor retailers will also probably carry them.
If you’re looking for a distinctive looking and expensive wrist watch, or for an extremely feature-rich, mountain-focused wristop computer, this is an outstanding purchase. I highly reccomend, and if I were forced to give it a numeric rating I’d call it an 8 out of 10. I will update this review after my next big outdoor trip.
Here’s a video review of the Suunto Core in twelve seconds:
This review is also posted on 1to10reviews.