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Gear Review

3 5

very dimly lit face

My wife just gave me this (rather expensive) very generous gift of a Suunto Elementum Terra Altimiter watch with the "Steel / Negative Face". I'm a fan of Suunto, and have been wearing a different model now for something like 3 years. She bought the Terra for me because of my past enjoyment of the other Suunto watch, and because I once told her about the new Elementum Suunto watches.

With all that said, it was very clear from the moment I powered up this watch that the display was unusually dim. I spent the first 15min with it attempting to see if there was some brightness adjustment (there is not), and then I spent the next 30min trying to determine if the batteries were low (they're fine). Through talking to folks and further reviewing marketing materials, it just seems like this is it. Do you see the picture above from of the "Steel / Negative Face Front"? Do you see anything on the face? No? Nor can I. If you change the angle of the face and get it under the correct lighting, you can eventually see the face digits. And, of course, there is a back light. The back-light button is shared by other functions and is time dependent though, so if you don't press and hold the button just right it won't light and will change the watch into another mode.

Because I like Suunto and I don't want to be so negative, I will say that their "Elementum" line has a nice appearance, that I'm sure the electronics are similar in accuracy and functionality compared to their other models, and that they are probably somewhat rare (they have priced them to be "exclusive", I'm guessing). The band is seemingly sturdy. I did not spend enough time operating it to get to know how user-friendly it was. Digital watches have a tendency to be somewhat non-intuitive. At first glance, this did not seem exceptionally intuitive either, but time would maybe tell differently.

In summary, this watch is way to expensive to only be so-so. If I got it for $200-$400, I might think it's OK, but would still not wear it much because of it's dim digits. I suppose there is a reason you never see these watches in stores; if you were to see it in person before taking it home, you wouldn't buy it.

Responded on


You can actually adjust the contrast on this watch to get a brighter display:

1. Press the middle right button for 15 seconds, or until the screen goes blank.
2. The display will ask you if put the watch into Sleep Mode. Select YES with the rotating crown and confirm with the middle button.
3. After watch has entered sleep mode, press the upper right button for 5 seconds until the absolute pressure is shown.
4. Press the upper right button several times until 'contrast' is displayed.
5. Adjust the contrast by rotating the upper right button.
6. Press the upper right button to acccept the adjustment.
7. Press and hold the upper right button until the time is displayed.

I have mine set to 7 on the steel / negative face. All negative face watches are difficult to read in darker settings. I think you will be happer with the higher contrast setting though.

Another tip is if you hold the upper right two buttons at the same time you can lock the watch so that you won't accidentally put it into log mode. The light still works in this mode which is very cool.

My only gripe about the watch is the stop watch feature has a sort of "fake" 1/100 resolution. I.e., the stop watch only works to 1/10 resolution and not 1/100, recording values like 5.50, 6.60, 7.70, etc.

I have about 10 Suunto watches in the Vector and Core lines and this watch is my favorite. I also have the leather strap / positive face Elementum Terra and that also sees a lot of wrist time. The displays on the Elementum Line are just so cool to look at. Seems strange, because at the end of the day, it is just a digital watch, but the font they use is very nice.