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‘Suunto’ is the Finnish word for direction, and for over 75 years Suunto has kept a bearing on providing explorers, athletes, and military personnel with the best navigational tools possible. It all began in 1936, when a Finnish engineer and outdoorsman named Tuomas Vohlonen patented a mass-production method for a liquid-filled compass. While this kind of compass was not a new idea, it had never been as easily produced or as lightweight as the M-311 field compass Vohlonen designed. So light in fact, that the compass could be worn on the wrist like a watch.
During the Second World War, Suunto developed a compact liquid sighting compass for artillery officers, and the original M-311 was a staple for soldiers. Following the war, it provided navigational tools to both civilians and military personnel and the business continued to grow. Marine and orienteering compasses were soon added to the product line, and by the 1950s Suunto was exporting compasses to over 50 nations around the globe. In 1965, after hearing from a British diving enthusiast who had successfully been using a Suunto compass underwater, the company introduced the world’s first diving compass. Twenty years later, Suunto had become the largest producer of diving instruments, and it continued to innovate by launching their first dive computer in 1987, a device that allowed divers to quickly calculate times without having to use diving tables. For the remainder of the century, Suunto continued to lead the way with diving instruments and compasses, and then, just before the dawn of a new millennium, they once again pioneered new technology.
In 1998 Suunto introduced the Vector, the first wrist-worn watch/computer designed for outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to a host of timekeeping tools, the Vector watch featured the ‘ABC’ (altimeter, barometer, compass) functionality, as well as a thermometer. The Vector became an essential tool for serious mountaineers and the groundbreaking functionality made it one of the most successful products Suunto has ever produced. From this point until today, the Suunto story is dominated by an increasingly powerful array of wrist-worn computers, many of which look no different than a well-designed watch. The list of achievements includes the world’s first watch-sized all-in-one dive computer, advanced training watches that can monitor heart rate, and outdoor watches with the ability to predict the weather.
Today, Suunto is still headquartered in Finland where they design and build the world’s best watch-sized navigation tools. The most recent innovations have included precise GPS functionality and a rebreather compatible dive watch. In terms of providing useful information to explorers and athletes, there is very little that a Suunto watch can’t do. From the highest mountains on earth to the deepest seas, you can count on Suunto for the tools you need to get there and back again, and it can all be worn on your wrist.