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Suunto Elementum Terra

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On May 26th, 2009 Suunto released a new line of Premium, Luxury watches, the Elementum line for user review. I was lucky enough to receive the Elementum Terra, with a Positive (white background, black numbers) display and a black leather band. A big thanks goes to Suunto for letting me have one.


The Elementum line does not have all of the features of some of their other sport models, like the Core, but they are very very nice looking dress watches, that still retain some field functionality. This line of watches has 3 watches. The AQUA is a dive watch. The TERRA, is an ABC (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass) watch, and the VENTUS is a watch designed for sailing/ yacht racing.


Prices have not been announced yet. The watch will be available this month.


You can see Suunto’s info here:



The watch comes in a nice, heavy, coated cardboard box, that is nicely lined with felt. In the box is a manual, a plastic warranty card, and a polishing/cleaning cloth.


My first impression was that the watch was heavier, but smaller than my Suunto Vector and Core. It does feel a bit thicker though. It’s a very nice, dressy watch. After putting it on, it doesn’t seem too heavy. Its got a good weight to it.


Case and Crystal:


The Terra’s case is made of stainless steel, with a matte/satin finish to it. It looks very nicely made, and very sturdy. There are 3 buttons on the right hand side, which all move very nicely. Firm, but with no click. The top button is also a scroll wheel, for scrolling through menu’s and making adjustments. It work very nicely, I wish my core had one. The scroller also moves smoothly, with confirmation clicks.


The case is water resistant to 100m (~300 feet) and according to the manual, the buttons CAN be pushed underwater.


The watch face is a flat, sapphire crystal, which also has an anti-glare coating on it.


The buttons seem to stick out a bit, but in practice they do not get in the way, or pressed accidentally.



The Terra can come with several different bands, leather, stainless steel, or rubber. Mine came with a nice black leather band. It has some white stitching around the edge of it, which really sets it off nicely. The band is very thick and sturdy, but is still comfortable to wear.



The Terra I got has a positive display, which I prefer It is also available with a negative display (black background with white numbers), for those who like that better.


The Terra uses a more traditional segment display for numbers, similar to the Vector. Thus, it will not plot out any charts/graphs of your elevation or air pressure like the Core.


The backlight is VERY VERY bright. Much better than I’ve ever seen on any other Suunto watch.



Suunto has obviously kept the functions of the Elementum Terra to a minimum. I’m pretty sure that’s because it’s meant to be a luxury dress watch. It’s something to wear to the office or a party, but will still function in the mountains, albeit not as well as the Core.


The Terra has only 2 modes, Time/Altimeter and Compass. The main display of the Terra shows a lot of information. In the top row, you get the current elevation, the middle row gives you the time, and the bottom row gives the date. At the top of the screen, you get the pressure trend arrows, and around the perimeter you get the sea-level barometric pressure. The face of the Terra does not have a rotatable bezel like the Vector or Core. Instead, a circular chart is present for reading the Sea-Level barometric pressure. The chart is labeled in both HPA and in inMG. I really like the way this works, it almost like an old fashioned analog barometer.


The Sea-Level barometric pressure displayed, is the reference reading, after calibrating the altimeter. There is no altitude lock like the Core. In this respect, it’s a lot like the Suunto Vector.


I really like the way the menus are reached and used in the Terra, with the scroll wheel. Pressing and holding the top button lets you adjust all of the settings, altimeter etc. The Scroll when lets you make the needed adjustments/calibrations. If you rotate the scroller up, you can select between displaying the date in the bottom row, or a stop-watch. If you rotate the scroller down, you will go into memory mode, where you can access the altimeter logbooks.


The alarm is accessed in the setting menu. There is only 1 alarm. The sound of the alarm is not as loud as I’d like. It will wake up some people, but not me.


Pressing the middle button puts you into the logbook mode. This is where you can start/stop recording of your elevation, and you can also find out your total assesnt/desent numbers.


Pressing the bottom button puts you into the compass mode. The compass has a north indicator very similar to the Vector and the Core. It’s a lot easier to see than those other watches, and I like it a lot. You can also press and hold the 3rd button to force a compass calibration. This is a 3 Axis compass, so it will give accurate bearings, even if the watch is tilted by as much as 45 degrees.



I’m kind of torn. This is one GREAT looking watch, but it lacks the advanced outdoor functionality of my Suunto Core. I think the only option is to have 2 watches. One dress watch for Work, Church etc (the Terra) and one watch for hiking camping etc (the Suunto Core).


Again, I would really like to thank Suunto for giving me the opportunity to review their new watch line. If anyone has any questions, just let me know.



• Very Nicely constructed – SOLID

• Beautiful Dress watch

• 3-Axis (3-D) compass. Does not need to be level.



• No seconds display except when adjusting time

• Lacks the advanced sensor functions of Suunto’s sport watches.

• No Adjustable declination of the compass

• No countdown timer

• No 2nd timezone

• No sunrise/set

• No Altimeter lock

• No pressure graph


Like I said before this is more of a dress watch than a hiking watch. For a dress watch, it will function great. It will do OK in the field, but not as nice as a Suunto Core.


Here: are a few pictures of the Elementum, compared to my Suunto Core. Sorry they’re not that great. If you want nice pictures, go to Suunto’s website.



Sorry they are not the best, but I'm not a photographer



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Interesting, I'm not in the market for a watch but I was interested in hearing that this is Sapphire Crystal.


My watch is Sapphire Crystal and has been through a lot of punishment and still looks as good as the day that I got it but I didn't know Suunto were using Sapphire Crystal now.


I have a Suunto D9 dive computer and was pretty miffed that they use Mineral Crystal on those since its not hard to imagine the thing getting a scratch off a tank or whilst you are moving around on a swaying boat.


For those that don't know the difference Sapphire Crystal is about 5 times as hard as Mineral Crystal.

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Thanks for sharing but, why share this on a Geocaching/GPS forum?..


I'm wondering about the advantages of having a device like this alongside a GPSr?


For wilderness use I would always have paper maps and a Silva compass as a backup and know how to navigate that way so the main advantage I can see is having a barometer and altimeter on the unit but my Oregon gives me altitude..


I am interested in this but partly because I'm a bit like a magpie when I see gadgets and have an urge to collect.


I do tend to research quite a lot before I buy and my thoughts on these types of device are as follows. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


GPS watches are produced by Garmin with a fitness market in mind. That seems practical because you don't want the GPS bouncing around when you are running. No attempt to collar the wilderness traveller market here, they are urged towards the great handhelds that they produce and mapping really brings the experience to life. In fact it is difficult to imagine using GPS without mapping apart from as a backup and an instant location finder for paper maps. Tracking is what these watches seem all about.


Suunto produce a massive range of watches for the outdoor environment but only one current model with integrated GPSr, the X10,X10M,X10Mi - basically the X10 slightly different variants (not sure that the X10Mi offers that is different to the X10M). These watches are waterproof to 100m (IPX8?) whilst Garmins models only state IPX7 (Can take a 1/2 hr dunk to 1m). The great extra thing that the X10 seems to offer is some intelligence in the form of storm warnings with large barometer shifts. It has GPSr and you can set up waypoints prior to a trip but as a primary source of navigation when you have a GPSr and you would backup with maps and a compass? Not so sure.


All these GPSr watches suffer to some extent because they have to power a GPSr and need recharging daily when in constant use. You can get Solar panels and AA driven chargers for them but that just means they are slightly less convenient than the handhelds where you can swap batteries and in a watch form factor you probably don't want to be bothering with all that hassle.


Suunto also has the t6c watch and variants like it but again this is aimed at training. It moves the GPSr external to an ANT protocol pod so that you can use GPS as one of the many inputs for training but the watch doesn't seem to offer quite the array of features that the X10 does.


I actually think that the better choice is to go without GPSr on a watch that is aimed at wilderness use, mainly because of battery consumption, but can only really cite the convenience of the Barometer/Altimeter as the function to have. The Oregon provides the barometer but it doesn't have warnings for storms like the Suunto X10 does - maybe this is a bit of a gimmic (thoughts?).


Incidentally my Suunto D9 dive computer has an electronic compass. It shuts off after 1 min of use so you have to re-sight if you can't find a reference and I find that to be useless. I always use my real compass that is on my gauge console instead. So do you think the wilderness compasses on these computers are better to sight with?


So if the Terra in its nice robust package offered some of the barometer goodies and that compass was actually useful then it might have some convenience advantages for estimating your time to summit.


What are your thoughts folks? I presume as you are posting here you are using your Suunto Core's alongside some GPSr. What do you like most about them? Do you think the Terra improves on that with smaller form factor and robustness given the features that really matter to you if you have a GPSr anyway?

Edited by iamasmith
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Very good and informative review, thank you Sir.


I'd like to see similar reviews about Suunto t6c which I am going to buy for my Triathlon tool.


Anyhow, I still have one Suunto Terra for sale as I had originally 2 of them, one for myself and one for my Dad as birthday present, decided something else for daddy so this one is for sale. Please be in touch in case of interest. I can mail it and you can also pick it upo n Holland if you wish!


Kind regards,



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