On May 26th, 2009 Suunto released several models from its new Elementum line for “user review and testing”. I was fortunate enough to receive one of these watches. I would like to thank Suunto for allowing me this very kind opportunity.
The Elementum line is, in my opinion, a step in a new direction for Suunto. This line of watches consists of 3 watches. The AQUA is a dive computer. The TERRA, is a “traditional” ABC “Field watch”. And the VENTUS is a watch designed for sailing enthusiasts. The release was complete with new ambassadors for each watch and a new ELEMENTUM website.
Suunto has declared this line their “Luxury” line. These watches will be sold in high end jewelry stores and are likely aimed at a new market for the company. In general, most people I talk to think this is a pretty good idea. As long as Suunto continues to produce the tough field watches we all know and love, there is plenty of “Suunto Love” for a more “discriminating” market.
I received a Ventus to write about and to explore. I received the watch on 5.28.09. My very first initial thoughts can be read here: https://forums.watchuseek.com/showthread.php?t=268855
I have to say, the boxed presentation is very attractive and well done. A thick cardboard outer box and solid inner box make up the Suuntos home for the first of its life. The Ventus was found inside on a nice soft comfy pillow for its trip from Helsinki. The watch comes with rather brief instructions, a customer service card, a nice polishing cloth and a typical hang tag. My Ventus has a negative display and comes on a leather strap.
Case and Crystal:
The Ventus model has a satin / blasted finish that has a nice subdued look. The button pushers at 3:00 and 5:00 are polished. The scrolling pusher at 1:00 is polished and knurled. All the pushers engage firmly but do not have a “click” like some watches. The scrolling pusher at 1:00 turns smoothly and quietly “clicks”.
The case is water resistant to 100M and tested according to ISO 2281. The Ventus on the leather strap weighs approximately 95G. The Crystal is flat and scratch resistant sapphire. The case is 316L stainless steel.
The case back is deeply engraved and reads “Suunto Elementum VENTUS” in the middle. Around the edge it reads “Stainless Steel 316L – CR2032 – Water Resistant 100 Meters 300 Feet – Manufactured in Finland. The case back also has a serial #. The case back looks to be held in place with 4 “Star Head” or Torx screws.
Using crude calipers and a measuring stick, I measure the following (definite APPROXIMATIONS):
Case (From 10:00 to 5:00) = 45mm
Case thickness = 14mm
Lug Width = 22mm
Strap = 22mm non tapered
Strap thickness = 5mm
Crystal Diameter = 40mm
Pushers (distance from case) = 5mm
Scrolling pusher (distance from case) = 7mm
The Ventus can be fitted with several strap and bracelet options. Mine came on a very well done brown leather strap. The strap is thick and robust, but immediately yielded to being buckled. Already after a few hours the watch fits my wrist very comfortably. The buckle has a matching finish to the case and is signed. This is one of the nicest buckles I have ever seen on a leather strap. The lugged ends are curved making the strap fit right against the case of the watch. Honestly, I am very excited to have the leather strap version. It really dresses the watch up while still keeping it casual. It is very comfortable.
The watch I received has a negative display. I find it a little easier to read than my Yellow and Black Core with a similar reverse display. In my opinion all negative displays are harder to read than positive displays… But they look so darn cool! This one has plenty of contrast and I have no issues reading the watch at an angle. I also have, no problems reading the watch in bright light. In lower light the negative display suffers like all brands. But that’s what the light is for.
And what a back light it is. Suunto must have taken note of the less than resounding reviews of the Cores backlight. (I never had an issue with the Core’s light). My Ventus has a very bright and strong backlight.
The display on the Ventus has cardinal points around the perimeter. After all this is a nautical themed watch. The Ventus has a red triangle at 12:00 and then NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW. The display also has SUUNTO at the bottom.
In the main display mode, the watch has a barometric trend indicator on the top half of the dial. The trend indicator has the hours marked and 5HPA on the left and .10INHG on the right. (The hour indicators are below the display). There are 4 bright red lines over the display. This is a clever way to allow the user to see rapid drops in pressure. Fore example; if the trend is steeper than the red lines, the pressure is dropping quickly and foul weather could be in on its way. I think these lines help the user to quickly asses the trend indicator.
In the middle of the display (in the main time mode) the time is displayed. Interestingly if one chooses 12 hour time the time is displayed as 07:21. There is an AM PM indicator if 12hour time is chosen. There are no seconds displayed. I find this a little odd. At first I though “How often do I care about the seconds”… And I thought, maybe they are off as a power saving functions (like the Core) but I cannot find any seconds display. I think Suunto could have kept their “perimeter” second hand just like they do on the Vector, Observer, Core, Etc… This watch even has elements along the perimeter of the display for the compass. I don’t understand this move, unless it’s a power saving function. This seems a little odd to me.
Below the time in the time keeping mode the watch displays the date. You can choose MM|DD or DD|MM. The date, like the time, is displayed as 05|28. Honestly I find the extra zeros in the time and date display a little over the top. Cool, but not necessary and a bit of a distraction. I will describe the displays for the other functions in the functions section.
One very cool new addition for Suunto is the scrolling pusher at 1:00. I have to say, I like this. It makes setting the watch and using the functions very easy. For example, I can adjust and set the alarm in about 8 seconds. So far, I have not “accidently” scrolled anything. But in case I might, the watch has a button lock. By pressing the 1:00 and 3:00 button at the same time the buttons lock. Any push of the button and the display reads BUTTON LOCK. Like the core, an element “lights up” by the 1:00 and 3:00 pusher and by pressing them again, the watch is “unlocked”.
In the time mode scrolling the button clockwise toggles the display in the bottom of the screen from date to barometric pressure. Scrolling the pusher counter clock wise allows the user to see the previous 12 hours of pressure readings. For example at 8:00 the pressure was 28.37. At 7:00 the pressure was 28.34. At 6:00 it stayed steady at 28.34. At 5:00 the pressure was 28.37 etc…. As I scroll back clockwise the hourly graph is built back and the time increases again. When I am done, a press of the 5:00 pusher takes me back to the standard time mode display.
When in the time mode, a press of the pusher at 3:00 activates the “Yacht Timer”. Now, I must admit, I am no sailor! I’m not sure what a yacht timer is, except that when in this mode I can very easily scroll the Count down timer (CDT) up or down. Perfect for baking cookies! When in the regatta timer mode a press of the 1:00 pusher activates the CDT. Audible warnings are given on set increments as the watch counts down. Then at 0 the watch starts its chronograph function. At any time I can press the pusher at 3:00 and return to the time mode. While in the sailing timer mode, the bottom portion of the screen displays the current time. Also the watch can be used as a chronograph without the CDT by simply setting the CDT time to 0:00.
The button at 5:00 turns on the compass feature. This watch has a nice “3D” compass. That means it is calibrated on two axis. The compass begins its calibration like most Suuntos. One keeps the watch flat and rotates it 360 degrees as the outside display element displays your progress. Then, this watch asks you to hold the watch vertically to 90 degrees. When complete it displays OK. This allows the watch to give an accurate compass reading even when tilted. Thus, this watch has no “leveling bubble” like the Classic Vector.
When in the compass mode the display reads the degrees. And there is a north indicator around that is around the perimeter of the watch dial.
One nice thing is that, like the Core, the Ventus uses multi tones for its alarm. My ears seem to perk up to multi tone alarms more so than the standard “beep beep” of many other alarms. I set the Core and the Ventus alarm to the same time. I had Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon softly playing in the background. The Ventus was louder than my Core... Not by much, but it was louder to me. Initially I called the alarm average in terms of volume. But I thought I would test further…
In playing with the alarms (and given that this is a complaint we hear often) I kept my Floyd on… now playing Comfortably Numb, and put my Suunto Ventus on one wrist, my Casio G Shock Riseman on the other wrist. I have to be honest… the Ventus sounds to me about the same as the G Shock. But because it uses multi tones, it seems to grab my attention more. Go figure… I guess alarm volume is subjective. Ventus sounds ok to me.
As mentioned before, the Ventus has a great backlight. It is activated by pressing the 3:00 pusher for 2 seconds. It remains on for about 5-6 seconds.
While the Ventus does not represent a major step forward in technology, I think it does represent a step forward in market. Sunnto is positioning the Elementum line as a luxury item, an “ABC” that will be sold not at REI but at high end jewelers. I do think the scrolling pusher is a very nice addition to the Suunto line up. The fit and finish of the Ventus, and presumably the whole Elementum line is exceptional. This Ventus is a very well made machine. If I were on the way out the door for a day of cycling or caving, I would likely not grab this Suunto. My Vector or X Lander or Core would get the call. But I am terribly appreciative of Suunto for allowing me to add this to my collection. In that respect, I think a collector of Suunto… a fan of the brand… a collector of their models; would benefit from adding an Elementum series to their line up. I hope this review would prepare them for what they would be getting. I also think that this line up will be a success for Suunto. There is a market for “luxury” items. This line could introduce a whole new market to the Suunto family.
I do have a few issues with the watch. First, from what I can tell there is no way to set the declination on the compass. For me it’s not TOO big of a deal as my home as very little adjustment for declination. Maybe this is by design, but I don’t see how. That functionality is available on all other Suuntos I own. I will continue to research this issue as surely the declination can be set.
Also, a small issue that I didn’t think would bother me, but I would like to see the seconds display, or at least an option to display the seconds.
Finally, I am a little concerned that the battery is not “user serviceable”. This has become a standard staple on most all of the Suunto line. While it may not be very “luxurious” to change your own battery, it sure makes sense to a lot of users, especially people that are using Suunto products in the field.
But that brings me back to the whole conceptual point of the ELementum line. Perhaps it is said best in the press release for the Elementum line: “We are entering a new era in Suunto’s history with a collection of premium digital sports watches, which reflects our deep knowledge in diving, mountaineering and sailing. This expansion derives from a unique insight into the other, more urban, part of athletes’ lives; an understanding that allows us to develop watches that are modern and stylish, yet still very functional, for all of life’s situations.” says Juha Pinomaa, President of Suunto.
So perhaps its best to look at the Elementum line as what it is; step forward into a different market. They are not designed to replace your Vector or your X6. They are what they are. A new line with an exciting new deign meant to potentially inspire a whole new branch of the Suunto family tree.
Again, I would sincerely like to thank Suunto for giving me the opportunity to explore their new line. I will keep adding to this post over the coming weeks. I will post update links in the main Suunto forum!
Here is a comparison shot to a few more of my Suuntos for size reference:
And a few more pics...