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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Suunto Elementum Aqua

The Elementum is Suunto’s first foray in the luxury watch market. They have released three versions - the Terra, the Ventus and the Aqua, each designed for a different purpose (trekking, sailing and diving).
All of the watches boast features found on other high end watches such as sapphire crystals, sculpted steel cases, and high quality strap and bracelet choices. But they retain much of the functionality for which Suunto is legendary.
The version Suunto provided was the black case with rubber strap. The case is beautifully designed, with sloping angular lugs and a bezel secured by small Torx screws, which give it an industrial, modern look. Suunto left behind their usual composite case material for 316L stainless steel, which endows the Elementum with the weight and heft dive watch connoisseurs have come to expect.

A sapphire crystal is another improvement that will make people happy, since it is virtually scratchproof compared to the more pedestrian mineral glass. The well-thought-out digital display provides pertinent, assimilated information at a glance as only digital can do, and is overlaid with crisp yellow lettering and a temperature scale. Whether a digital display watch can ever be considered upscale or dressy is open to debate however.
Perhaps the most distinguishing part of the Elementum is its protruding knurled pusher, which is used to access most of the watch’s functions. The pusher is a pleasure to use, operating with just enough resistance when turned and pressed. The watch’s dive functions are smart and idiot-proof. When submerged deeper than a meter, the Elementum Aqua automatically goes into dive mode, displaying current depth, maximum depth, dive time and water temperature in one view. Pressing the pusher illuminates the entire dial for viewing in the bowels of a wreck or on a night dive.

After exiting the water, the watch starts to count up your surface interval time, a crucial and useful feature. Dive information is saved into a log and the watch can store up to 14 dives before it begins to overwrite with subsequent information. So far so good - while the Elementum won’t replace a dive computer, which can track no-decompression times and log many more dives, it is still a worthy dive companion.

The Elementum Aqua comes in a few different configurations - steel, black steel, with rubber or leather strap or on a steel bracelet that would not look out of place on a Breitling. Suunto has made a big step with this new line of watches. Whether they can draw in new buyers who want a high end timepiece, or bring existing Suunto owners upmarket, remains to be seen.

Cost: $990

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