About two months ago OTC was contacted by Suunto, a watch company based in Helsinki, Finland. Suunto is best known as a designer of midrange digital sports watches that border on being wrist computers.
Founded in 1936, Suunto has a long and respected history as an innovator in sports timing, especially in the field of digital timing.
It turns out that Suunto is going upscale and wanted to see what OTC thought of the effort.
The new Suunto Elementum collection – exclusively manufactured in Finland – consist of three unique watches geared to specific activities. Now, as you may already guess, OTC does not really fit the digital watch model. Typically, when we discuss watches we’re talking about things like the benefits of tourbillions or how the very inaccuracy of mechanical watches make them so special.
That is still very much the case here, but the Elementum caught us off guard. These stylish, urban-inspired watches combine a high degree of craftsmanship with precision digital technology in a unique and attractive package. The goal in creating this collection was to marry form and function in an upscale and highly designed product. As far as we’re concerned, it worked.
The collection consists of three watches, Elementum Aqua, Elementum Terra and Elementum Ventus, specifically designed for diving, mountaineering and sailing. Their Latin names directly translate to water, earth and wind, which are the three elements that surround the activities Suunto Elementum is inspired by and designed to help navigate through.
Noticing an increased interest and demand for stylish but functional premium sports watches, Suunto developed the Elementum Collection to meet the needs of three specific types of people.
The Aqua detects when the user enters the water and starts all the functions and measurements for a dive, such as depth, maximum depth, dive time, surface time and water temperature.
Elementum Terra (on leather strap)
The Terra is equipped to help its wearer survive in the outdoors, such as an altimeter for altitude measurement, barometer for easy prediction of weather changes and compass for navigation.
The Ventus is a highly sophisticated yet interestingly elegant sailing timepiece with features that allow for predictions of upcoming weather, an advanced compass for navigation and a sailing timer for the timing race starts.
After reviewing the three models – each available with a variety of finishes and straps – we chose Ventus as the test model. Its association with sailing and the hefty leather strap made it a good match with OTC’s sense of style.
Once the watch arrived, it was clear to us that Suunto was moving in a very premium direction. The outer box’s gallery drop front and inner box’s solid feel and clean finish all foretold that something different was going on.
The first thing we noticed about the watch was that while it is a solid 45mm across and sat quite high on the wrist, it weighed almost nothing. The face is a completely seamless crystal (negative display) and all functions are controlled by the pushers at three and four o-clock and the knob at two o-clock.
The Ventus is a sharp looking watch. Most people who commented on it said that it’s an interesting (in a good way) combination of new and old, modern and functional.
What we really like though, is the leather strap. The thick tan hide nicely counterpoints the case’s brushed stainless steel case and signed buckle. First time on the wrist and it felt moulded in place and the white top stitching really compliments the overall feel.
Technically speaking the functions are simple and strait forward – once you figure out which feature is controlled by which pusher. The barometric pressure graph is very useful (and cool) and the backlighting is, as my nephew would say, “wicked bright.”
Brand wise, Suunto has handled everything in-house, which is very admirable. The watches and the campaign’s approach both reflect this more personal philosophy. Each watch in the collection has its own brand ambassador. Ventus’ is Finnish sailing champion and Olympian Thomas Johanson. Check out his Suunto video HERE.
OTC happily recommends the Suunto Ventus as a cool yet classic tool watch with a modern flair. It’s functional, stylish, has a killer strap and the impressive pedigree of North Sea testing. Please note that it’s not a suit watch; it’s a dressy casual watch that can hit the seas (or just the mall) without skipping a beat.
Suunto Elementum is available in the USA, Sweden and Italy. It will be available this fall in Finland, Argentina, Greece, Japan and Singapore. MSRP is approximately $1,000.