A few years ago (WELL before the Suunto forum) I did this review of the Nike Oregon Adventure Racing watch and the Suunto Observer... I thought you guys may like to read it. Actually, the Nike (A VERY capable watch) wins out! LOL... I still stand by the review even though Im a mod here! LOL...
At the time I didnt have a Vector... This has been a few years!
Suunto Observer vs. Nike Oregon Series Adventure watch.
It’s the battle of the tool watches. I spend most of my recreation time out in nature; Hiking, Orienteering, Running, Cycling etc, so I love “outdoor tool” watches. Back a few years ago the Suunto line of watches was a lot more limited that it is today. A that time you had your choice of the Vector, Altimax, and Advisor. All, very cool but also very LARGE. Don’t get me wrong; I wanted one from the first time I saw one. But they were WAY To big for my wrist to be worn for an everyday watch. But, to he honest, their accuracy and dependability was already legendary. Then came the Observer…. Sleek, stylish, functional, and appropriate from the trails to the office. I had to have one! I got one and loved it!
Then my buddy and I were sitting in a bar one night and he traded me his Rolex Sea Dweller for my Observer for about 7 months. I made the trade. When I got home I loved caring for the Rolex, but oddly I missed the functionality of the Suunto! So I had to buy a replacement. (As if I had a choice!) Enter the Nike Adventure series watch! Big, Bold, functional, and not QUITE as big as the original Suuntos, but it has a bit of hockey puck appeal. But at the same time, it was bold, and dare I say “interestingly attractive”?! So I got one!
Well, last week I met my buddy in France and he gave me the Observer back. The Nike came off, the Observer went on and life was GOOOOOD. Or is it? I thought I would give a little comparison …If you are interested in the big “All in one” watches… read on!
Both watches have similar functions. The Observer has 3 alarms, dual time settings, Chronograph, Altimeter, Barometer, Thermometer, Compass, All kinds of altitude alarms and even a log book for storing ski runs or cycling rides. The Nike has the same features but with 7 alarms (including its altitude alarms and hydration reminder alarm.
Both watches keep digital quartz time (in other words great time!) The Altimeters are both extremely accurate and suffer only mildly from barometric influence. The Nike battles Baro drift using their “Zero drift” technology. The Suunto handles it a bit differently by having you choose between the Barometer or the Altimeter for “locked” use. Its really smart.. and may be a bit more accurate but you have to choose. They suggest using the altimeter when moving, then at night going to the barometer. The logic that at night your altitude is constant while you sleep and you will get enough of a baro trend for weather guesses. Hey it worked for me in the Appalachians… The Nike just plugs along… barometer and altimeter are useable at all times together. Hmmf. I wont fault either watch here. Just different ways of handling the same problem. So for Altimeter and barometer functionality and accuracy…. I say TIE!
Both compasses are amazingly accurate. Even in a car! I wouldn’t ever use a wrist compass for plotting but for quick reckoning or on the go checks they are AWESOME. Both are shockingly accurate and easy to reset if they get off a bit. I have never reset the Suunto and only done the Nike once. And right now they are 100% on. I must admit the Nike has a LITTLE easier to read graphic display. BUT, the Nike needs resetting ever 30 seconds or so… so again. Ill say TIE… Both watches can be se for various declinations and can lock plotted points.
Both watches have a chronograph. The Nike wins hands down here. First, theirs is a 1000 hour chronograph for adventure racers. Second, the display is WAY better. Although the Suunto has 10th of a second display its just awkward, seconds are on top of minutes and it just reads funny. Combine that with my models reverse light and it just doesn’t work well. The Nike however is amazing. You give up 10th of a second display but its 1000 hours strong! And, its laid out in a much more traditional way. Gotta go to Nike on this one!
As far as looks and construction go… Both are tough looking. Both are attractive enough for daily wear. The Suunto is a bit more subdued and its nice green reverse lighting is cool. Both are 100M WR (a minimum must for me in this type of watch.) WR is an issue on this kind of watch. Many brands like the original Suuntos are only 50M. The Avocet Alti watch is only 30M I think. Both watches have a user friendly battery hatch. The Suunto has parts kits available at REI. New gaskets, straps, and batteries are easily available. Both watches have a lighting system that stays on for 3 seconds at night. Both are easy to operate and very legible in the darkest tent! Both watches are very comfie. They each have “rubber”’ straps that are well vented for humid climates and exercise. Both watches take abuse well. Heck, I don’t baby these guys as you can see from the scratches, The Nike is aluminum the Observer is steel… both are available in Ti. The crystals on both watches are STILL perfect despite bangs with chain rings, desks, doors, rocks, trees, and various mammals. J
In all I would say these guys are so close its hard to tell. But honestly I may edge over to the Nike. For one simple reason. The alarms will wake me up. All through France last week that was my main alarm. I could ride 80 miles one day, eat, walk a lot, drink some beer and STILL it would wake me at 6:00 to do it again. NOT so for the Suuntos attempt at an alarm. Its almost like is says “shhhhh wake up… oh, you don’t want to? Ok… shhhh.” Sorry Suunto but for an adventure travel watch, I need something that screams “OUTTA BED SLEEPY FACE, LETS GO DO IT AGAIN! DAYLIGHT IS WASTING!” and the Nike does that! Lastly, lets look at price. The Suunto is almost double the Nike. For two watches so similar…. I love the Suunto name… but Nike is easier on the wallet. So Nike wins, but just barely because I still LOVE this Suunto!