on October 9, 2009
Have had this watch a little over a week, and decided to write an review for it.
Just a brief comparison between two top-notch ABC watches: - the Core, and the Casio Pathfinder PAW-1500 Titanium, which I purchase a little over three weeks ago as well. I would say, the cosmetic design, the wealth of functions, the ABC accuracy, and the graphical display of the Core, is better than the Pathfinder. However, the built material, the readability, and the push button feel, is not as good as the Pathfinder.
The display is in reverse format, meaning the background is in black, and the alpha-numeric letters are in silver-white. Adjusting the contrast in the Suunto hidden menu does help, but of course, still not as clear as the normal black letter on white background. No fault of Suunto, but just the way the design is. The buttons are responsive and easy to press. To navigate through the menus, the "Mode" button and the "View" button have to be pushed in different combination to get what you want. It might seem confusing at first, but once you understand the logical layout, it's fairly easy to remember. Give yourself a couple of days to get used to it.
Compliments: Extremely accurate ABC. I compare their readings with the actual ABC instruments. The accuracy is incredible and beats the Casio Pathfinder in the dust! The storm alarms reacts to the air pressure change accurately as well. The electronic compass is awesome. Once you set the course, the bearing indicator would display an arrow and directional words (left and right), to guide you to the correct course, which is a great feature. User installable batteries which is great to save a lot of money down the road.
Complaints: The directional rotation ring is difficult to turn. If you have finger nails, you'll need to use them, if you bite your finger nails, good luck. The alarm is a bit soft and hard to hear sometimes. The same problem as the Pathfinder. I wish they can make it louder. The wrist strap looks and feels cheap. The illuminator is a bit dim too.
Tips: This watch has earned a lot of bad reps due to poor quality control in its manufacturer plant in China. It's been tons of complaints and reported problem. After doing some research, it appears that Suunto has finally fixed the hardware and software bugs. When you order the watch, make sure the serial number stars from "918xxxxxx" onward. Mine is "924" and so far so good. You should email the seller, to make sure they send you the updated version as noted above, then your new watch won't spend most of its life going back and forth in the delivery trucks.
Follow up review (please read and rate):
It's been nearly a month I have been wearing this watch, thought I should provide more feedback to help those who are interested in this watch.
I have worn this watch to a two-weeks trip to Eastern Europe. I used all ABC functions intensively, especially the altimeter log and compass functions. To begin with, all readings are extremely accurate as it has always been. The only inaccuracy is its barometer when worn on the wrist, which is understandable due to the body temperature influence. The watch functioned flawlessly during the extreme weather, ranging from 1 degree in Celcius (outdoor), all the way up to warmer than 40 degrees Celcius (I wore it to the hotspring pool for hours). I have also used the daily alarm twice a day, illumination for 3 times a night in average, and the battery is still kicking like a champ. Many reported the battery died out after a month or so even with light use, it appears that Suunto has fixed this major flaw. Yet, it's been just a month of intensive use so I can't say for sure. Even if I have to replace the battery every 6 months, I think it's still worth is as the battery costs less than a couple of dollars to replace. So, my conclusion is: The Core has reclaimed its reputation in my book. I have no doubt that it will continue to perform well. Just make sure that you buy the one with the latest firmware (serial number after:92xxxxxx SW: 1.1.0 HW: 3A. Please rate and comment if you find this helpful
on October 6, 2014
I have had my Suunto core for apx three years and worn it exclusively (also while I was in Iraq) so I feel like this review is more worth reading then someone who's had it a week. I'll start with the positive aspects. The watch head is very durable and all the features work as advertised. Now for the negative; the material the band is made of is very fragile it seems to dry rot and crack. I've had to replace the band every year so far which doesn't seem very bad but they cost 50$ a pop. The battery life is aweful and I don't even use the altitude, barometer, depth, and compass regularly. I change the battery at least 3 times a year. The customer service is awful the first time the band broke Suunto wouldn't replace it even though it was under warranty. I would not recommend it.
on November 25, 2011
I was on a course a few weeks ago, and some of the instructors were wearing Cores. They loved it, but said that using the compass a lot drained battery. Also that you need to regularly calibrate height and compass. (To be fair, that's what the manual says too, and it's a simple operation.)
Normally I wear an IWC, which is lovely, but not really something you want to be throwing yourself around in- I was considering saving up for an Omega, but logically it didn't make much sense. I've had my Core for a week and so far it's really excellent. It doesn't take too long to work out the operation either.
Apart from the Suunto diving watches, the Core appears to be the one which can put up with serious "wet" use, (i.e. snorkelling) and you couldn't find a better watch for Expeds and adventure training. The storm alarm works- actually works; it's not a gimmick!
Despite the size (much bigger than my IWC Spitfire), you don't notice you're wearing it, even though it seems extremely rugged.
The compass is good, but I would not use it to replace a normal protractor compass. If I had a quibble, it's that the North indicator is very small- if you were really following a bearing by fixing it within the bezel, it might be a little tricky in anything other than excellent light. However the digital alternative it offers is brilliant. (Lock bearing, and it tells you if you've gone off track.)
A downside? The negative display can be murky in half light. If you buy this watch, Google the method for adjusting the contrast. You may need to!
Overall, if you want something really professional, I couldn't recommend a better choice- really glad I bought mine.
on January 14, 2008
The watch works great for me. I would advise not to read to much into the other reviewers who have said bad things about the watch. Heads up guys when the weather changes and you return to a ref point; say home after coming down from the mountain the watch may show a different alt. if the pressure and temps have changed a lot. , thats the way it works as pressure changes so to will your base alt setting. unless you have the GPS version :) I suggest people read the book before talking and sounding silly. The Core is a great add on to my collection. I have the GPS version as well. This watch is a bit slimmer and not so G.I. joe looking. Good for on the trail or down town.
UPDATE: The watch has started acting up only after 8 months of daily light use. The mode buttons work some days and not others. The TL and BL
mode buttons all of a sudden stop working. I'm guessing the alignment with the pins you push and the contact pad inside the watch get miss matched. Really? For 200 + dollar watch and I cant get the simple stop watch to work. If I flick it with my finger it realigns back up and them I'm able to use the buttons. Just yesterday I got on the tread mill to start my Cross Fit work out and started to sprint; I hit the start button again and again and again, &*(^% guess Ill use the free clock on the wall. Suunto has to do better than this before I buy another watch from them. Can't belive I'm looking at G-Shocks now!! Oh and the cover on my GPS watch has come off as well. Not looking good Suunto!! ONE STAR NOW
on January 8, 2010
I've had many Casio ABC watches, so I'm biased. For this review, I had Casio PAW-1300t and Suunto Core (green version - latest batch) which are used interchangeable or together for a period of about 2 months.
1. The looks - the watch is big, but very conservatively designed. No weird plastic extrusions, just a simple watch with a big screen. It looks nice and professional. Casio looks a little more gimmicky, but Casio is still a solid looking watch (not like the older ABC casio watches that looked like spaceships)
2. The screen - it's nice to have a big matrix screen. Although, it may seem like a square pixel matrix, some of the pixels are actually taller than others - It's confusing for the graphs (if one tall-rectangular pixel is added is it greater difference than a reqular square pixel). Considering that there are 3 patches of matrix screens, I wish Suunto would try to do more with them (more combined data screens). There are 2 rows of tall rectangular pixels. Casio has a very small matrix screen for the graphs, but the rest of the screen is regular 7 segment digital display. It doesn't look as spiffy, but it does the job.
3. UI (user interface) - the menu system is organized like a tree. So you go inside menus to get to more menus, and then you have to back out to get back. It's a blessing and a nightmare - items are somewhat organized, but it's a hassle to get to some simple setting that's burried 3 menus deep.
3a. One big gripe with user interface: is that the barometer and altimeter are the same mode Suunto (which actually makes sense, given that both values are derived from the same pressure sensor). However, there's NO quick way to switch from one to the other. If you watch is in barometer mode, all you're going to get is barometer, if you want to change it to altimeter (or vice versa), you have to go into deep into the settings menus, find it, and change it. There's an automatic mode, but it's a gimmick, it tries to guess which mode it should be in (I prefer a more direct approach - I want to see what I want to see, not want it "thinks" I should see)
4. Clock Precision - the clock precision is outright terrible! It's a good 3-5 seconds a day. I've had cheap quartz watches that lose 5 seconds in a month. I'm no precision freak, but having my watch be off by a minute at the end of a month is unacceptable (if you're used to mechanical watches, this is not a problem :)
5. Instrument precision - pretty good. Many claim Suunto is better than Casio as far as accuracy/precision goes; I've had them side by side for a 2 months, and I don't see a difference. Barometer and altimeter are usually within the smallest measureable unit of each other (read: insignificant difference), and very close readings to the local weather station. Compasses show in the same direction. The compass on Suunto has failed me once; on a hike, it started twitching +/- 60deg (120-or-so degrees of total variance), I have not had that happen with the casio. Maybe I stepped into a magnetic anamoly - either way, I didn't like it. In general the Suunto's compass seemed twitchier than the Casio's (more needle jumping). Temperature is a useless sensor, my guess is that they only bother putting that sensor in, because the sensor is so cheap. However it works well in the water, but in air, it simply shows the temperature of the watch (which is greatly effected by your body temperature). You can take it off, and leave it for 10 minutes (if you've read this far, I'm sure you know the drill).
6. Features - Suunto doesn't dissapoint. The added benefit of Depth meter is very nice, even though it measure only to 10m (snorkeling only). The range of the pressure sensor is amazing (depth meter/altimeter/barometer are all run from the same pressure sensor). The data logging is very good; a little complicated, but very complete. The logs have the time and the measurement recorded at the desired frequency (casio, for example, only records the totals: ascend, descend, max, min; whereas suunto is a true logging device, and records actual altimeter data, every period). The sunrise/sunset display is very usefull (Casio doesn't have that). The storm alarm feature is a gimmick, it goes off in a seemingly random fashion - I don't know what algorithm they use to figure a coming storm, but it's obviously WRONG - as I had my watch go off on sunny days with no rains approaching.
At the end I chose Casio PAW1300T. As an everyday watch, it's just better built and better equipped, and it is smaller (much thinner). It's much more accurate (even without atomic connectivity), and on top of that, it gets automatically updated (to the second) every night. It's solar powered, so it doesn't need to be opened every 6 months (great concern for water-proofness in Suuntos). The modes are less cluttered(you still need a manual to learn the watch), and it looks more durable. Barometer and Altimeter have their own dedicated buttons (unlike the combined alti-baro mode on Suunto). I can't say Suunto is a bad watch, but it just didn't work for me. Casio is just as good at showing barometric trends (to predict weather). Suunto data logging is better than Casio's, but that's not saying much. If I need to log a hike to review it later, a GPS does a much better job (absolute 3d position on earth), so a simple altitude log produced by Suunto is too simplistic anyway. And as far as pacing yourself during a hike, the casio's log works just as well, without the added complications. It all came down to usability - what seems like a couple of button presses on Casio turns into a menu-down-down-enter-on-back-back-back kind of search on Suunto.
on July 18, 2014
Bought this watch about two years ago. Here's how it's holding up.
The watch is NO WHERE near as pretty as it was when I first bought it. Most of the black paint wears off, especially around the bezel (the outer edge of the circle that has the compass bearings). It's silver with a few black scrub marks now. I haven't done anything especially brutal with it, nothing really, just worn it day in day out as you would do. I'd would have expected it to hold up a LOT better than it has. The storm watch alarm works well, it does predict bad weather pretty good, but honestly it's totally not worth $300+. If I could go back in time, I'd tell myself to NOT buy this watch. As of right now the watch keeps resetting as though the battery was removed and replaced, so I look down to find out the time and it's just flashing "12:00" as though it needs to be set. I reset the time a few hours pass and again it's flashing "12:00" and waiting to be reset.
The battery compartment is supposed to be user friendly and easy to access. It is, the first few times you change out the battery. After that the edges of the slot that turns the cover wear down and become rounded so it's ever more difficult to open it up.
Totally not happy with this watch. Bad purchase. The photo of the watch on Amazon looks all nice, but after two years of use it looks like crap. See the 'customer images' part on the amazon.com page for photos of how my watch looks now. I didn't beat it up! It's just day -to-day wear.
on April 25, 2015
Here are my thoughts on my new Suunto Core, hope this helps others decide if this is the right watch for them or not.
Overall I love the fit and finish of this watch, I have the Military All Black edition. The bezel is low profile which allows it to easily fit inside the cuff of a shirt and also less prone to striking on door jams and the like as you walk. The watch is lighter than I had anticipated, but does not feel light in a cheap kind of way. I was initially a little bummed about the lighter weight because I normally where very large and heavy Invicta watches. However the lighter weight of this watch makes it far more useful for being active which is what this watch is all about. The lighter weight also means you can wear the watch higher up on your arm where it belongs and it will stay there. That way its not impinging on your hand while extending the wrist (say while riding a bike.)
The band is a smooth matte hard rubber and has a matte black aluminum clasp. There are also two rubber cuffs to tuck the excess band inside, this is very nice as it keeps the excess band out of the way of what you are wearing and what you are doing. The watch itself is very comfortable as a function of both the band construction and the overall weight of the watch. My favorite part of the overall look of this watch however is the dark face. It's clean and sharp; you can choose which information you would like displayed by default (time, altitude, bearing, sunrise/set, date, countdown, etc). In very bright light and with the watch tilted at an extreme angle it can be difficult to see the information on the display, however with the watch pointing directly at you, I have no issues reading the display even in full sunlight. At night the display is completely dark, except for the glowing North indicators on the rotating bezel. The backlight feature (activated as needed with a button press) lights up the entire display so you can see all functions and feature of the watch including indicators such as the alarm being set. Another nice little feature is a button lock, achieved by pressing and holding the backlight button for a few seconds, handy so that you are not accidentally accessing menus or changing settings inadvertently while you are asleep or wearing gloves.
In terms of the altimeter/barometer, I have always wanted this watch for skiing purposes as it gives you a way to track your vertical feet for the day without having to pull out your phone and check an app like EpicMix. As I have yet to ski with this watch I cannot comment on its ability to track vert just yet, however many other people I know with this watch have been pleased with its ability to do so. It does give me accurate readings of atmospheric pressure which has been interesting to follow. These past few days we have had some decent storms roll through and I have actually watched the barometer drop as that was happening. It displays the pressure in a graph so you can see trends over time. The reality is that I would not routinely use this to try to predict or gauge the weather - in this day and age I can get vastly more detailed information from my phone. That being the case the barometer is accurate and functional.
The thermometer does a great job of telling me the temperature of my wrist but not the ambient temperature (at least if I am wearing it). I knew this was going to be the case before I even purchased the watch as this is a common theme with all "ABC watches". The reality is there is no way for the thermometer to account for the conductive heat transferred to/from your body (or radiation from the sun for that matter). Again, if I need to know the ambient temperature I look at the weather app on my phone but if I was in an area with no cell signal that would not be an option. In that event you can always hang the watch from your pack or inside your tent to get an accurate reading on the ambient temperature. The thermometer is accurate, you just need to take your wrist out of the equation when you need that information.
The compass feature works great though I personally don't see myself using it routinely. I have compared it to the lensatic compass in my pack and its relatively close but if I ever actually had to navigate I would definitely use a dedicated compass. In my humble opinion the compass function on the watch is more convenient for getting a general idea of your bearing or heading - something I usually am aware of already but I can appreciate how this might be useful if you are traveling or exploring in a new area.
Another great feature of this watch is the sunrise/sunset information. While programming the watch you select your nearest major city and that is how the sunrise/set times are calculated. This gives you a relatively accurate prediction of the time at sunrise and sunset but depends obviously on if you are in that exact location or not. As I am in Milford, CT I have mine set to NYC. The watch tells me that sunset today will be at 19:48 where as according to a simple google search it will be at 19:42 for my current location (unsure of the source that is being indexed though). In any event, it is close enough and reliable for the purpose of gauging your activities by the need for daylight or night.
As expected there are also the typical watch functions of chronograph with lap metering and an alarm. The alarm actually also has a snooze feature which is pretty nice. As the alarm goes off a notification on the display says "snooze?" and places "yes" and "no" next to two buttons on the bezel. Selecting yes gives you an extra 5 minutes of sleep. I am unsure if you can change the duration of the snooze in settings or not. There is also a countdown timer which comes in handy sometimes. You can set the duration of the countdown to anything you like in the settings.
Another nice feature is the product support offered by Suunto. The day I received the watch I got on the website and made a user account then registered my serial number. From there I can submit work or repair orders should anything ever go wrong. There is also a nice user community for sharing information and activities, something I won't probably be an active member of but I am sure there are others who really enjoy this aspect of the brand.
I really have no gripes or problems with the watch to report so far. I have only had it for 2 weeks and I am very pleased with my purchase. I have read other reviews noting problems with the band breaking. The band seems solid to me but certainly does not feel indestructible. I am sure with enough repetition of folding the band back to remove the watch it would ultimately crease and then crack as others have reported. At this price point I expect this to be a watch that I get many years of solid use out of. If for some reason the band starts to get too terribly worn or breaks I would be okay replacing it. I do not believe the Suunto warranty covers band damage from normal use. It appears replacement bands for the Core are available for around $30-40 which is reasonable in my opinion. It appears the band can be replaced by the user, and judging by the look of the screws attaching the band to the watch body you would only need a small flathead driver. Also of not, the watch battery can be easily replaced by the user.
So in summary, all in all I am very pleased. The watch looks fantastic. The watch is comfortable to wear both at rest and while working out or being active. The altimeter/barometer are accurate and give you ample ways to display and use the data. The thermometer works great, you just need to take the watch off to get an accurate reading (true for all watch thermometers as far as I know). The compass is accurate for getting a general idea of your heading but if you are planning on doing serious navigation then use a dedicated compass. The other standard watch features (alarm, chrono, countdown) are all present as well as few nice bonuses like a countdown timer, snooze function for the alarm and sunrise/set times.
on June 6, 2010
It's not posted on this forum but many of the issues with this watch have been corrected since 2008 debacle. There was period back in 2007-2008 that this watch production had some quality controle issues. If you buy this watch, try and ensure you receive a watch that has a serial number starting with a 9 (this means that it was built in 2009). There has been very few issues with the 2009 versions. Suunto even recalled many of the defective watches.
Also, for these watches to work in peak form, you must calibrate them often, and know how to use them. This watch lets you select altitude or baro mode. If you know you are not changing in altitude and want accurate weather forecast set it to baro mode and calibrate the altitude. If changing altitude is important to you, then set it to altitude mode and again, set the altitude to an accurate value. The storm alarm on this watch is very cool, and has worked for me in the past. I was climbing in ID and it was a clear day outside and my storm alarm went off - i thought that there could be no way this watch was predicting a storm so i kept climbing. About 45min - hr later we had a big downpour. Very cool.
Many complain that the temp is off. But again the watch is close to the body and will naturally be high despite suunto's attempt to compensate for close body contact. If you are at a camp sight and are really concerned about weather forecast, take the watch off, attach it to your pack or wear it outside you jacket. In order to calculate the altitude the temperature is a factor in the equation. when i camp or hike, i usually attach the watch to my pack. When i'm in the city in Chicago, i set the altitude (as it does NOT change in the midwest so not important) and then switch to baro mode. I have been happy with it's accuracy.
After playing with the watch for a while, you will learn how it reacts and be able to adjust to it.
The "readability" : i bought my girlfriend a t1 with the inverse face colors (black background) and there is no doubt that it can be hard to read. My comment here is that if you want to ensure readability then go for a white background. Thats what i have and i still think it looks awesome.
The quality of the build: Some say it feels cheep, but i think that they mischaracterize it. The watch is light weigh which can give it a "cheap" feel but i think the point was to build a lightweight watch. It's a bigger watch but fits very well, and comfortably on my wrist.
If you get a lemon, return it suunto or the vendor for replacement and hope you get one with a serial number starting with 9.
I would recommend this watch aslong as you know how to use it.
as a last note, some say they would not go out into the backcountry relying on this watch's compas alone. my response is that you should always carry a stand alone compas if you will be really relying on it. They are light and cheep. You could fall and break your watch... run out of batteries... just bring a stand alone as backup and to just double check.
THANK - hope this helps.
find your altitude for calibration and also a sunrise/set charts to test watch accuracy.
on September 21, 2010
I bought the Suunto Core all-black for my husband in February of 2010. He had wanted one for quite some time, but with all the negatives reviews about the watch malfunctions I was a little hesitant to get it for him. So far, so good though. It's working just as it should. My husband loves it. We have been on several trips and the altimeter is working great as is the ascend/descend feature. When we backpack, it's nice to have the thermostat on it and the north/south indicator. He uses the alarm clock everyday, and it works just fine. He has had no trouble with any of the features, and he uses a lot of them. He is mechanically inclined, though, and read the manual before setting everything so I'm not surprised it's working well for him. I know that some of the watches have had some problems in the past, but several of the reviews I read I think I would chalk up to user error. This is not a watch for someone who doesn't like to read the user guide. Once he got everything set, it's been great. The all-black watch face can be difficult to see in the sun as some reviews have noted, but what would you expect? My phone that isn't all-black is difficult to see in the sun. So if you're concerned about being able to see your watch in direct sun, don't buy this watch. But if you don't mind walking a few steps to find shade, then you shouldn't have a problem. All in all- great buy. My husband, the tech-geek/mountain man loves it. Oh, and the battery has been working just fine- haven't had to replace it yet. I know that was a problem noted in some reviews.
on April 9, 2012
After owning several Casio PAWs (1500, 2000) I can now say I really wish I had started with the Suunto long ago.
I like the Casios but to me the Suunto is the real thing and the Casios feel more gimmicky now, certainly nowhere near as well executed as this Suunto Core Black. The Suunto is far more simply, elegantly designed without the external bulk that now dwarfs the Casio screens with metal housings that are just a visual mess of too much info crammed onto every surface.
The Suunto features are powerful and it is well thought out; I never had to open the manual other than to see what the face symbology represented. It was a pleasure to program and I can jump between more complex functions like logs and Storm Alert, compass, very easily which means I'll use them. I constantly had to squint and change viewing angles on my PAW-1500 to read the symbols, graphs and history.
The Suunto makes much better use of screen space and presents info in a clear, intuitive manner that can be understood at a glance.
The display - it is a reverse display obviously designed not emit a visible (to others) light source in the dark. That said I find the display resolution and clarity superior to the other reverse displays I've used, with easily readable symbols and data in daytime (cloudy or direct sun). I also can read it easily at a gance indoors at night under any lights and in dark the backlight is the perfect level for viewing without affecting night vision or sharing your location. The most difficult viewing is indoors in low ambient light using backlight. In a completely or normal urban dark night it is no trouble for me to see with backlight. I really like it, again a better implementation than Casio which I had a hard time seeing in some conditions.
Some people will doubtless not like or have trouble seeing the display - everyone's eyes are different. I have normal 20/20 vision.
The watch is very light and so comfortable I forget it's on my wrist until I need it.
The one con is the crown. It has poor, scratchy rotation and is not at all smooth to use. Hopefully it will break-in and improve. Not an issue for me as I won't use that much.
If you like or require this type of watch I really believe you are missing out if you don't give Suunto a try.
Update: 19 May 2012 - Been using the Suunto every day now and the barometer/altitude is very accurate. Exactly matches our weather station data and the NWS reports. In fact it's more accurate than the weather station in responding to changes in pressure. Still very impressed with the Core Black and it's my favorite watch by far.