I've been a Suunto fan ever since I got my first Suunto watch back in college. That was a negative LCD Suunto Observer, and is still one of my favorite digital watches. I was intrigued back then by the Finnish brand that didn't sell "watches," but rather "wrist-top computers." A few battery changes later I still have my Suunto Observer, and now I present to you my review of a brand new Suunto watch. Born out of the new Elementum line, this is the Aqua, and is the most dedicated diving watch I have ever owned. The elegance and simplicity of this watch's functionality is impressive. It is a very focused watch, and requires next to no learning curve to figure out how to use it. It does a few key tasks, and does them very well.
Before moving on to the functions of this watch, let's look at the style. This model has the negative LCD screen (my favorite) and the metal bracelet. The watch is also available with a normal LCD screen and many different types of straps - in different materials. The watch is also available in black. The style of the watch is unique for Suunto and closely resembles German UTS watches — also diver watches. The steel of the case is done in a unique manner, somewhere between a satin and sandblasted finish. The crown, pusher, screws, and bracelet links are all done in a polished finish. The screws in the bezel give it an underwater nautical instrument look, somewhere between the porthole and a gauge on a submarine. The overall style of the case shares this instrumental look. The lugs are interesting as they curve down sharply when looking at the came from the side. It makes the bottom of Elementum Aqua almost totally flat, and it is comfortable. The case is also about 45mm wide.
The bracelet is comfortable and attractive, and 24mm wide. The small links make it good for sizing as you get a more precise fit. The deployment is push button and diminutive, relatively well done and easy to operate. The irony is that the metal bracelet is the hardiest of the straps, but the worst for actual diving. I would recommend one of the rubber straps for diving. I’ll tell you why. Unless you are never going to wear your Elementum Aqua on your wrist, the bracelet will not fit over your dive suit as it does not have a diver’s extension. So you either size the bracelet for your diver suite, use the watch for non suit diving, or swap in a rubber diving bracelet for those purposes. It is a minor thing, but something you should know for a watch that is such a dedicated diver’s watch.
Looking at the back of the watch you can see the water intake sensor. This is the pressure sensor for the depth meter. You also learn that the watch is suitable for 200 meters of water resistance. This means it is a good diving watch for most, but not all diving. All purpose diving watches are typically 300m water resistant. Again, this is not a big deal especially given the great functionality that the Aqua has for most diving purposes.
The dial is where you will be spending more of your visual time. You can tell that the dial is sectioned off into a few years. There are three vertical levels, and there is a peripheral temperature gauge. The default screen shows the time (in either 12 or 24 hour format) and the date. There is no seconds display. You can tell that the Elementum Aqua has a pusher where the crown would normally be, and a crown located at 2 o’clock. The crown is pretty cool, and operates like a rotating selector. You turn the crown to make settings changes and change the screens. When you twist the crown, it makes a slight by reassuring little click — this is a nice detail. Further, the crown is large enough and placed in a manner making it easy to operate with gloves (if you want to switch back to view the time while underwater). Normally the crown rotates the default and dive log screen. How the crown down and you enter the settings mode when you can adjust the time, date, etc… Of course you can also set the watch to the metric system as well as standard. Holding down the pusher normally activates the very good backlight. Also, the watch features an alarm function that is pretty easy to use.
So what about all the diving functions? They are all automatic and only operate underwater. There is a small sensor on the watch located at 10 o’clock. This is a dual purpose water and temperature sensor. When the watch is submerged in water a small water drop icon shows up on the dial and the watch enters “dive mode.” The screen changes to show four vital pieces of information; the dive time (how long you have been diving), current depth, maximum depth, and water temperature (displayed around the dial). After your dive you can use the log function to retrieve this data. It is just that simple. A no nonsense, no instruction necessary dive watch. The Suunto Elementum Aqua is the dive watch for dummies, and for a ton of people out there who don’t want to remember another set of instructions this watch is a godsend. Let’s face it, diving is a sport that requires a lot of equipment, has a lot of rules, and requires a lot to remember. The last thing you want to do is have a dive computer that you forget how to use underwater. This watch does all the hard stuff for you. Sure the options might be limited, but it does all the basics, and it does them well.
The dive log function stores information for the last 14 dives. It also keeps information like the surface time, the dates of the dives, and the number of dives. This is all good information to look back on.
The watch comes in a great looking black box with a well detailed instruction sheet and separate easy reference guide. Good documentation overall, but like I said, you won’t need too much time with the instructions because the functions are intuitive and straightforward. Besides, most of the functions are underwater only. With a retail price of $1,199 the Suunto Elementum Aqua is on the pricey side, though it is on par with its closest competitor which is the Tissot Sea-Touch. The good news is that actual street price is going to be more often than not less than the suggested retail price. A great addition to the Suunto line that is sure to resonate well with diving enthusiast fans of the brand and anyone who wants a simple to use and reliable dedicated diving watch instrument. Oh, and who doesn’t get a reassuring and cool feeling when they see “Manufactured In Finland” on a product. What else do you know that is made there?
Learn more about the Suunto Elementum Aqua Watch (and other Elementum models) at Suunto’s special dedicated Elementum website here.