I was not lucky enough to get to test the Suunto Elementum Terra, so I decided to get my own. Now, if someone at Suunto is reading, I hope this you consider me for the next test program.
The Terra is the second Suunto watch I own. Last year I got the X-Lander with the negative display and military strap. The X-Lander has been my daily watch… until now.
Since other members have already posted excellent reviews on this time piece, I will try to focus on what I believe are the features that have had little mention. I hope this additional information and the photos help those still-undecided, and may appeal to others.
This is my review of the Suunto Elementum Terra with the negative display and the stainless steel bracelet.
Bracelet and clasp
The stainless steel bracelet is 24 mm wide all the way, almost as wide as the military strap for the X-Lander. There links rattle very, very little, and whatever noise they make definitely reminds me of thick solid hefty steel, compared to other light metal.
The Terra weights a little over 200 grams. The steel bracelet accounts for half of that weight. It is heavy and sturdy. It has a total of 21 links, 10 of them removable for sizing. The typical link is about 7mm wide and 3mm thick.
The clasp is elegant and simple; it blends well with the links and has a firm locking mechanism that does not add bulk to the bracelet, and does not rattle.
The watch has a great heavy feel on the wrist.
Several things pop at me right the way, first the digits’ design, Suunto gives the numbers on each field the same nominal width, which combined with the fact that the digits are completely orthogonal (there is no slant as most watches have), it helps maintain the balance and overall symmetry of the screen.
The second thing I notice is the “whiter” digits’ color. It is still a light shade of green/yellow, but definitely whiter if compared to the digits on the negative display of the X-Lander for instance. The numbers on the Terra look particularly whiter when looked at an angle.
The third comment I have about the display is the fact that there are no “ghost” images of the unused segments. All the photos I had seen on the Suunto website and even the online manual actually led me to believe the unused segments would be still visible to some degree. I confess I had not been paying enough attention to the real-life photos other members of the forum posted, but I was happily surprised when I noticed that the background on the Terra is truly and completely black. This makes the displayed segments look clean and neat.
Even when the backlight is in use no segments are visible, and the background takes an even, flat and pleasing green hue. For some reason one of the photos I took shows a blue tint, but it is greener than that… it must have been the low light condition.
The alarm is a three tone chime that is always accompanied by the backlight. It is strong enough for me to wake up, although I am not sure if I am waking up because of it, or because deep inside I want to save battery-life. I have not yet found out how long the alarm will keep ringing, I’ve let it go for a little over 30 seconds.
The stopwatch, as well as the attitude recorder, has a three-tone chime that confirms operation. Both sound different than the alarm.
Sea level air pressure indicator (outer rim)
Once I set the reference altitude to my current location, and when comparing (several times a day) with readings from the weather stations nearby, I found the outer rim displays the air pressure accurately. Also, it is interesting to have both, the inches of mercury (inHg) and the hectopascals (hPA) scales on sight; personally I never paid much attention to hPA, and have my X-Lander set to inHg, since that is what the weather stations around here use.
The barometric pressure trend indicator
Some members on the forum have talked about the AUTO profile on the Elementum (same technology as that on the Core) and how since Suunto’s design goal was to keep the Elementum line as simple as possible, there is no way to manually change the profile from altimeter to barometer or the other way around.
Well, when I noticed that the indicator on my Terra was not changing even though there were obvious weather changes taking place, I contacted the Suunto helpdesk.
Besides confirming about the automatic profile, here is the additional information they offered:
In Baro profile a sample of the pressure is taken every 10 seconds. If during this window there is a pressure change equal to or greater than 5m (0,63hPa@sealevel) the device is changed to Alti mode.
In Alti profile pressure is measured every 1, 5 or 10 seconds according to vertical speed. If there is no change surpassing the threshold of 5m (0,63 hPa@sealevel) in last 3 min, the device is changed back to baro profile. In addition to this there is an extra delay period of 9 min in case altitude movement is continued (reasoning for this is hiker taking brake, climber stopping for delay, short brake for orienteering etc…). This means that a change from alti to baro will take a minimum of 12 min.
Each part of the trend indicator arrow represents 3 hours. For the arrow to change position there needs to be a change greater than 2hPa within that 3 hour period. In addition to this the Terra must have been in the Baro profile the entire time.
I have mixed feelings about the trend indicator. Unless you are on a flat area, or remain vertically motionless for 3 uninterrupted hours, the altimeter profile will take over, and force the barometric recording to stop and reset, preventing the indicator from displaying any trend on the air pressure changes that would give you an idea on what is coming your way weather-wise.
Even for the casual user, the trend indicator will be meaningless if you consider that a simple walk up or down the stairs would cut into the 3 hour period Suunto states the Terra needs to note a barometric change.
I find this a shortcoming on such good looking and simply functional timepiece. Maybe Core owners can offer more insight on the auto profile feature.
Overall, I am honestly pleased with the Terra; despite the trend indicator shortcoming … I guess I will learn to love it as is. I agree there are other more technically capable ABC’s in the Suunto family, but to me this is the best looking Suunto watch out there, which also happens to do some of the tasks its brothers do… and that is fine with me.
As I said at the start of this review, there are other better and more detailed reviews that address the features I omitted here. I am sure you can quickly find them in the forum. Enjoy...