Retail price: $249
Reviewer: Chris Minguez of Chugiak, AK
Findings: First off, the Sunnto Core is one of the premier ABC watches on the market. The feature set contained within the Core is one of the largest on any functional digital watch. This is both an asset and a liability, which I’ll delve more into later. Once again, you can find the feature-sets on any website selling or reviewing the Core. This review will focus more on the experiences with the watch.
First off, the only reason to buy the Black/Orange version is that the band is changeable from the hideous orange. Otherwise, you need to shell out some heavy coin for the watch and more coin, (around 60 bucks) for a replacement band that includes the lugs that you need. Kind of a bummer, but market research beforehand, (like you’re doing now) can save your ass. I tried the watch on with the Orange band exactly once before I swapped it for a 24mm leather PAM-style watchband. The Orange is comfortable, but unless you have a Dayglo Orange fetish, not practical. The brown band with the negative brown tint face is perfect, and really makes for a dressy looking watch.
Experiences with this watch; well, I wear this one most every day. With the profile set on automatic, the watch switches from baro to alti going up and down stairs, traveling to and from anywhere in the car, et cetera. This is a result of the baro lock described in the G-Shock GW-9200-1 review. An interesting feature of the Core is the storm alarm. Sudden decreases in barometer units generate a distinct audible alarm, and the words “STORM ALARM” appear on the face. Any button pushed will clear the alarm. This feature, along with the resolution, and with the sunrise/sunset feature, was the main drive for me in getting the Core over similarly gadget-packet watches like the Pro Trek PAW-1500. The watch uses a coin style battery about the size of a two stacked dimes. The watch has a low battery indicator, and with a shorter (relatively speaking, compared to Solar G-Shocks, and G-Shocks in general) battery life of 12-13 months, I carry a spare CR2032 in my wallet.
The Core is unique in that it also has a depth meter, which, in a watch with a 30m water resistance seems anachronistic. You have probably read that 30m water watch resistance is about the equivalent of splashing water while washing dishes. This is generally true for average watches. But nothing Suunto makes can be classified as average. For more on the myth of water resistance, go here: ( http://forums.watchuseek.com/showthread.php?t=239664 ). So, fresh from having read that link, you should know that Suunto has produced a very capable watch, with a depth meter for snorkeling and shallow dives, that is perfectly resistant to water.
The watch takes some getting used to, with the initial programming of time zone, units, and reference altitude/pressure. Probably most confusing is the switch from function based buttons to menu based buttons. Lower left button can be thought of as the ‘back’ button. Lower right is the light, and the center right is profile switch, going from time, to alti/baro to compass. To access the prodigious menu, hold in any button for 2-3 seconds, and the menu comes up. Upper right button scrolls up, lower right scrolls down, center accesses the menu, and lower left as mentioned, goes back. Once you get this, the watch is less intimidating. In addition, the switch from baro to alti is pretty frequent, and noticeable if you have the audible tones on.
One last note: the negative face is somewhat frustrating at first, since combined with the convex and very reflective face of the Core, it’s difficult to read at the angles one is normally accustomed to in reading a watch. Once you’ve had it for a while, it’s less off-putting, and you get in the habit of pulling your wrist up to an easily readable angle or using the light. The negative face really has to be experienced to be understood, so buy a watch from an authorized distributor with a good return policy.
OK, that wasn’t the last note. This is. The backlight is faint, compared to some of the flashlight brightness of others. Suunto did this to preserve night vision for users who continue to adventure after the sun sets. Also, on the negative Cores, the display is way freaking cool, like a HUD on a fighter jet, you just have to see it.