Page Type Gear Review
Object Title Observer
Manufacturer Suunto
Page By Alan Ellis
Page Type Oct 22, 2002 / Jan 20, 2007
Object ID 524
Hits 6322
Shock-resistant Observer is a tool for the athletic challenges, but its timeless design makes it wearable in any casual situation. The Observer is 1/3 smaller in both diameter and width! It also features a chronograph, which previously was only offered in the Navitech. Available in 3 different material combinations: stainless steel housing with elastomer strap, stainless steel housing with stainless steel strap, and titanium housing with titanium strap. Water Resistant to 100m / 330 ft. (3 times deeper than the other non-dive watches). Metal Strap versions consist of metal links over an Elastomer strap with a hinge type opening. Our biggest complaint about the Observer is the Alarm Volume; in order to get all of the electronics in the small casing, something had to give, and it was certainly the alarm speaker size. If you normally use a watch alarm, this one is at best about 1/2 the volume.

- Current altitude: range -500 to 9000 meters or -1,600 to 29,500 feet – resolution 1m/3ft
- Altitude alarm
- Logbook feature can now store up to 39,999 ft and includes average vertical ascent and descent, number of runs, and duration of the event
- One button access that allows the user to view a logbook while it is recording
- NEW lockable altimeter which stops altitude drift due to weather changes

- Absolute pressure range 300 to 1100 hPa or 8.90 to 32.40 inHg
- Sea level pressure range 921 to 1080 hPa or 27.25 to 30.80 inHg
- Resolution 1 hPa pr 0.05 inHg
- 4-day barometric memory in intervals of 1 hour for the first six hours, and then in six hour intervals
- NEW lockable barometer which keeps altitude from changing.

- Digital compass that can be used anywhere in the world.
- Declination adjustable
- Bearing tracking mode which displays the difference between a locked bearing and actual bearing
- Resolution bearing of 1 degree

- 12/24 hour clock
- 3 daily alarms
- Chronometer that can record 1-99 split times and split times for 1 run
- Dual time

Other Features:
- Electro luminescent backlight feature
- User replaceable battery
- Water resistant to 100m/330ft

Titanium housing with titanium bracelet: $499.00
Stainless steel with stainless steel bracelet: $349.00
Stainless steel with elasomer band: $299.00



Viewing: 1-7 of 7

Alan Ellis - Oct 22, 2002 5:57 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
I have a Vector for the hills and the Observer for the office. After having the Observer for several months, I can see the advantage of having the Altimeter/Barometer lock function. However, I just can't seem to bring myself to take it outside. It looks too good. Like the Vector, the functions and abilitiies of this instrument are outstanding, but with the addition of exceptional styling.

Look around on the internet. I got mine for about half price of the suggested retail.

Erik Beeler - Nov 16, 2003 9:13 pm - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
A very nice watch with tons of features but it had better. The altimiter has proven fairly accurate on trips to 14,000 feet and the barometer trend feature has been nice when trying to figure out the weather.

I like having a compass but would like it even better if it worked for headings between s/e, s and s/w. Can eat batteries compared to other lesser featured watches but if you can afford it you can affor the 5 dollar batteries too.

Oh! I really like the band too. It has a trim to fit band which is adjustable and comfortable.

STW - Sep 27, 2005 10:05 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
I have the stainless steel housing with elastomer strap.

I also have 2 other Suunto watches. The Altimax and the Mosquito (for scuba diving). The Mosquito is a similar housing to the 1st generation Suunto wristop computers (altimax, vector, etc.) but, obviously, has significantly different internal software (dive computer).

The Observer is what I would call Suunto's 2nd generation housing design. Compared to my Altimax, the Observer is heavier, but significantly smaller. The Altimax is actually quite light! But size-wise, it's a bit like having an egg mcmuffin strapped to your wrist. The large size has the advantage of presenting you with a large, easy to read display; and, with large buttons you can use even with gloves on. The Observer's display is a bit smaller, but is still quite legible. The buttons are, again, a bit smaller, but I bet you could still use them with gloves on. The Altimax is a pretty geeky looking watch. The Observer is a downright handsome watch. It doesn't look at all out of place in the office during the week.

From a features perspective, the user experience is very similar to that of the Vector. You have access to timekeeping, altimeter, barometer, and compass. You use the same button-strokes to access these features as you would with the Vector. The Observer may have a few new features that the Vector doesn't, but Suunto has done a nice job of not forcing users to learn a new interface.

Keeping with that, the altimeter/barometer/compass features deliver accuracy perfectly in line with my expectations for Suunto - pretty much top of the line amongst altimeter watches.

One item I miss in the new watch is a count-down timer in the timekeeping mode. I actually used that a lot on my Altimax. It is not a feature of the Observer.

The only big gripe I have about this watch is its weight. Perhaps if you shell out for the extra dough for the titanium version, you'll get a lighter watch?

Woodie Hopper - Feb 9, 2007 10:36 pm - Voted 4/5

Stainless Observer
Fairly accurate altimeter. I like the styling. The stainless watch feels a little bulky but not ungainly to me. I didn't feel the price difference to step up to the lighter titanium model was worth it. The only problems have been a relatively quiet alarm (I have a hard time sleeping in huts most of the time anyway so this hasn't been a problem!) and relatively short battery life. Constant use of the altimeter drains battery power.

Bill Kish - Jun 25, 2007 3:41 pm - Voted 5/5

Suunto Observer
I have owned a Titanium Observer for over five years years. I am extremely pleased with this product and now consider it an essential piece of gear when heading out into the mountains. I have relied on the altimeter many times as a navigation aid and it has never let me down. The compass also performs well but like any compass needs to held level to produce accurate results. One technical limitation is that the thermometer reading is influenced by body heat but I have run into the same issue on other watches as well. The user-interface is a bit on the complicated side and could use some refinement but overall this is a well designed and trustworthy piece of gear.

matt_anderson - Sep 2, 2007 12:21 pm - Hasn't voted

Titanium Observer
Used the watch to 20, 320' a few times on Denali. Works ok, but my complaints are:
-titanium scratches easily
-crystal scratches easily
-leather strap is ridiculous. Broken within 3 months professional use
-alarm wouldn't wake a mouse
-crystal fogs up at altitude
-now the buttons are getting a bit sticky to operate

Next time I have to buy something like this I'm going to forget about cool styling and get another cheap vector. The plastic model is just a more foolproof design and I think the cooling/heating metal of the observer is what causes it to fog up.

Alberto - Aug 3, 2010 10:55 am - Hasn't voted

Suunto Observer
I bought a steel version with an elastomer strap over 5 years ago and I used it extensively since for climbing, trekking and even for surfing.
My main considerations:
- Altimeter pretty accurate (tested up to 6000 meters)
- Temperature sensor gives immediate accurate reading in water. For air temperature, you need to take the watch off your wrist and wait 5-10 mins. At about -30C the whole thing died, but came back to life when warmed up.
- The casing is pretty tough. After all these years it has just few scratches.
- The fact that you can change the battery yourself is pretty handy, like the fact that the battery is a standard one.

Only problem: the compass doesn't seem to work anymore and the calibration process doesn't work either. No idea why.

In the end I decided to buy a new Suunto Core. Now let's see how it behaves...

Viewing: 1-7 of 7