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Industry Measuring instruments
Founded 1936
Founder Tuomas Vohlonen
Headquarters Vantaa, Finland
Products Outdoor-, Performance- and Lifestyle Watches, Diving Computers, Instruments, Compasses
Parent Amer Sports

Suunto Oy is a company that manufactures and markets sports watches, dive computers, compasses and precision instruments. Headquartered in Vantaa, Finland, Suunto employs more than 300 people worldwide, and its products are sold in over 100 countries. Although globally active, the HQ is placed next to the factory, in which most of the work stages are still handcraft. Suunto is a subsidiary of Amer Sports Corporation with sister brands Wilson, Atomic, Sports Tracker, Salomon, Precor, Arc'teryx and Mavic.

The word "suunto" can be translated as "bearing", "heading" or "direction".

Suunto logo with earlier "Replacing luck." -mantra on a cap
The original logo of Suunto


Tuomas Vohlonen with march compass

In 1933 the company's founder, Tuomas Vohlonen, a surveyor by profession, applied for a patent for a unique method of filling and sealing a lightweight compass housing made entirely of celluloid and filled with liquid to dampen the needle and to protect it from shock and wear due to excessive motion.[1] In 1935, Volhonen was granted a patent on his design, and it went into mass production a year later as the wrist-mount M-311.[1] Although it was not the first portable liquid-filled compass, Vohlonen's design was compact and lighweight, enabling it to be easily worn on the wrist.[2][3][4][5][6]

The company was entered in the trade register on February 4, 1936.[7]

During World War II, Suunto introduced a compact liquid sighting compass, the M/40, for artillery officers and other users needing a precision instrument for measuring an azimuth. The company grew rapidly after the war, supplying compasses and other navigational instruments to both civilian and military markets.

After Tuomas Vohlonen died in 1939, his widow Elli Vohlonen ran the company until 1952, when she sold it to Paavo Kajanne, Aarne Mahnala and Veli-Jussi Hölsö, who also owned Redox Oy. At the very end of 1970s they sold the company to Niemistö family, and in the beginning of 1990s Sponsor Oy bought the company and listed it in a stock exchance in 1995. In 1999 Amer Sports bought the company.[8] Since March 2010 M. Sc. Mikko Moilanen has worked as CEO of the company.[9]

In 1996 Suunto Oy acquired Recta SA, a Swiss compass manufacturer.

In the late 1930s Suunto Oy was located in Laivanvarustajankatu 8, Ullanlinna, Helsinki. In 1959 Suunto moved to Itämerenkatu 52, Ruoholahti, Helsinki. In 1969 the company moved to Juvan teollisuuskatu 8, Juvanmalmi, Espoo. Suunto Oy's headquarters moved to its current location in Valimotie 7, Tammisto, Vantaa in 2001.[10]

Compass products[edit]

See also: Suunto M-311

Suunto makes a wide variety of magnetic compasses, including the A and M series for general navigation, the Arrow series of compasses for competitive orienteering and KB (KäsiBussoli, engl. hand bearing compass), MB (=MatchBox) and MC (=Mirror Compass) lines for those requiring a professional-quality hand bearing compass.[11] Suunto also produces the Recta lines of compasses, including DT baseplate series based on Suunto designs, the DS series of mirror sighting compasses, the Recta Clipper micro compasses, and the famous DP 'matchbox' series of military compasses invented by Recta in 1941. In 2009, Suunto discontinued the Swiss-made Recta DO series, moving all remaining production of Recta compasses from Biel, Switzerland to its production facility in Vantaa, Finland.[12]

After acquiring Recta AG in 1996, Suunto incorporated the Recta Turbo 20 global needle system technology originally patented by Recta SA[13][14] into many of its own compass designs. These global compasses have proprietary needles that can operate accurately in all world magnetic zones. The company also continues to refine its line of outdoor and orienteering compasses with features such as improved luminosity, adjustable declination, and fast-settling needle designs and more durable materials.

Since 1967, successors of M-40 have been offered as KB line, which consists of high-quality hand-bearing surveying compasses and inclinometers that are accurate to fractions of a degree. Traditionally made of a solid block of machined aluminum (some newer versions are in high-impact plastic housings), each KB compass contains a magnetized dial with calibration markings printed along its outer edge.[15] A magnifying lens (KB-14) or prismatic sight (KB-77) is mounted at one end of the instrument with a crosshair providing a view of the disc, containing both forward and reciprocal bearings.[15] In operation, the user divides his or her field of vision with the instrument, using the device's lens or prism to precisely measure the bearing of the object in view.[15]

Having a tradition as a compass manufacturer, many sport watches feature an electronic compass.

Global Needle System[edit]

The Suunto Global Needle System acquired from Recta as the Turbo-20 needle design, the conventional magnetized compass needle is not used.[13][16] Instead, the compass needle and magnet are built as separate units functioning independently from each other.[16] The needle itself is fixed at its pivot by means of a double bearing, while the magnet rotates on a pivot with its own jeweled bearing. When attracted by the earth's magnetic field, the separate compass magnet absorbs the vertical force of the magnetic field, so that the inclination angle of the magnetic field (magnetic dip) cannot tilt the needle, and the needle can no longer move in a vertical plane. This provides accurate readings of magnetic north in all magnetic zones of the world. The design also permits accurate readings with the compass tilted at angles of up to 20 degrees, while the use of a strong magnet causes the needle to settle extremely quickly, facilitating fast and accurate bearing/course measurements. This allows a user to obtain fairly accurate compass bearings even when moving, such as when hiking or traveling in a canoe.[17]

Military models[edit]

The first military compass is M-34 delivered to Finnish Army since company founded. Since late 1980s Finnish Army has been using M89-60 exclusively manufactured for them. The most popular Suunto compasses used by armed forces around the world are MC-2, KB-14, A-30, M-9 and Clipper. These are sometimes adapted to local requirements. The MC-2 optical-sight (mirror) compass along with several other Suunto compasses has been approved for issue to various NATO military forces, including Canadian Land Forces and several U.S. Special Forces units.[18] The Recta DP-6 is still used by the Swiss Army.

Sport Watches[edit]

Suunto is famed for its multi-function electronic wristwatches such as the Core, Ambit, Vector, X-Lander, and X10, which can provide a variety of functions including compass bearings, altitude, training effect and even GPS location, depending on model. Suunto's multi-function electronic sport watches are made for different sports like sailing, golfing, hiking, mountaineering, alpine skiing and training.

G-, S-, T- and X-series of sport watches present an era when products with number 3 were described as entry level, number 6 as advanced and 9 as professional or high-end.

Suunto Vector was the world's first outdoor watch with ABC -functions. Released in 1998, it was available almost unchanged until it was discontinued in 2015. There was also a HR version of Vector, adding basic heart rate functions.

Suunto T6 with its later versions T6C (=Comfort belt) and T6D (=Dual belt) was one of the most advanced among heart rate monitors at the time of its release in 2004. It has, among other features, rate-to-rate recording of heart rate, an altimeter based on air pressure, calculation of EPOC and training effect and support for external POD devices measuring speed and distance.

Suunto T3 (and its C and D versions) offered many advanced training properties with much lower price than T6. Especially the support of POD devices was rarely found in its price category. The T4 (with also C and D versions) was close the same as the T3, but it added an electronic coach function. There were also T1 and T1C, a very basic heart monitors in T-series. All T-series versions have gone out of production until 2012.

The M-series are a successor of T-series (except for T6). The M-series is more of an entry-level fitness lineup, while T-series was more aimed at sports training. The M-series include the basic heart monitors M1 and M2 (same watch, different heart rate strap) and M4 and M5 with more advanced functions, most of which electronic coaching for specific goals, such as weight control or improving physical performance. M4 has gone out of production until 2013.

Suunto Quest is a heart rate monitor aimed at sports training. It has many training functions and an electronic coach function.

Suunto Ambit series, with the first version released in 2012 and later having included Ambit2 and Ambit3 lineups, are currently the most advanced of Suunto sport watches. These include GPS, ABC-functions, rechargeable battery, advanced training functions (in training functions Ambit is a successor of T6) and updatable software. User can modify many of the functions of Ambit according to individual preferences. Different apps are also available, and users can also create their own apps. Limited in production amounts, Ambit2 S Black Limited Edition has been available from June 2015. Ambit3 adds smartphone connectivity as its main improvement. On September 29, 2015 Ambit3 Peak Nepal Edition was released. There's no other difference between this and normal version besides "Nepal Edition" text on the screen and a bit different bezel, but of every watch sold 25 euros are donated to Red Cross for humanitarian aid and rebuilding in Nepal. There are two types of frames in Ambit series and although there are only minor differences in the straps for different frames, they are not interchangeable.

Suunto Core is an ABC-watch (A=altitude, B=barometer, C=compass). Since its release in 2007 there has been more than 30 different versions of Core. All of them have the same functions, but their external appearance differ. Most versions have plastic frames, but some are made of aluminum and two of them are made of stainless steel. Most of the Core versions are no longer in production. There are some limited, numbered editions of Core, such as Everest Edition (8848 made, in honor of Apa Sherpa's 21 ascents on Mount Everest), Red Bull X-Alps Edition (864 made, according to the length of the race), and Extreme Edition (3000 made). Suunto celebrated its 75th anniversary by releasing Anniversary Edition (in some countries known as Alpine edition). Core All Black is often erroneously referred to as Core All Black Military or Core Military, but such nominations are not official and such "military" versions don't exist. Core is said to have named after it's including core elements needed in this type of watch.

Suunto Lumi is designed for women. It includes mostly same functions as Core. With special adapter, Lumi can be worn as a pendant. The Finnish word "lumi" translates as "snow". Published in 2007, Lumi was available only for a few years.

Suunto Traverse was released on October 1, 2015. The watch includes ABC-functions, GPS-receiver and heart rate monitoring. It includes many of the functions of Ambit3 but however it is to be a follow-up of Vector and Core as an outdoor watch.

Earlier Suunto has been using Suunto ANT and ANT+ (based on the ANT network standard) protocols in wireless transmission of data. New releases beginning from Ambit3 series are based on Bluetooth low energy. The most basic heart rate monitors have been using analog signal.

Although most of the sport watches are made in Finland, some of the products are made in China by another manufacturer. These include T-series excluding T6, M-series, Quest, Lumi, Core and most of the PODs. Suunto has succeeded in its attempts in decreasing the production in China and increasing the proportion of Finnish manufacture.[19]

List of Suunto sport watches[edit]

Suunto M5 Black/Gold
Suunto X-Lander
Suunto T6C

Abbreviations indicate key characteristics. A = Altimeter, B = Barometer, C = Compass, HRM = Heart rate monitor, GPS = GPS satellite receiver

  • Advizor (ABC, HRM)
  • Altimax (AB)
  • Ambit (ABC, HRM, GPS)
  • Ambit2 (ABC, HRM, GPS)
  • Ambit2 R (AC, HRM, GPS)
  • Ambit2 S (AC, HRM, GPS)
  • Ambit3 Peak (ABC, HRM, GPS)
  • Ambit3 Run (AC, HRM, GPS)
  • Ambit3 Sport (AC, HRM, GPS)
  • Core (ABC)
  • G3 (Golf)
  • G6 (Golf)
  • G9 (Golf)
  • Lumi (ABC)
  • M1 (HRM)
  • M2 (HRM)
  • M3 (Boat Racing)
  • M4 (HRM)
  • M5 (HRM)
  • M9 (ABC, GPS, Sailing)
  • Mariner (BC, Sailing)
  • Metron (ABC)
  • Navitec (C)
  • Observer (ABC)
  • Quest (HRM)
  • Regatta (C, Sailing)
  • S6 (ABC, Skiing)
  • S-Lander (AB)
  • Spartan (AB)
  • Traverse (ABC, HRM, GPS)
  • T1 (HRM)
  • T1C (HRM)
  • T3 (HRM)
  • T3C (HRM)
  • T3D (HRM)
  • T4 (HRM)
  • T4C (HRM)
  • T4D (HRM)
  • T6 (HRM)
  • T6C (HRM)
  • T6D (HRM)
  • Vector (ABC)
  • Vector HR (ABC, HRM)
  • X3HR (AB, HRM)
  • X6 (ABC)
  • X6H (ABC, HRM)
  • X6M (ABC)
  • X9 (ABC, GPS)
  • X9i (ABC, GPS)
  • X10 (ABC, GPS)
  • Yachtsman (BC, Sailing)

List of Suunto Core versions[edit]

Suunto Core All Black
Suunto Core Anniversary Edition
  • All Black
  • Alu Alu
  • Alu Black
  • Alu Brown (September 2007)
  • Alu Deep Black (April 2012)
  • Alu Light (March 2010)
  • Alu Pure White (April 2012)
  • Anniversary Edition (April 2011)
  • Black Orange (September 2007)
  • Black Yellow (September 2007)
  • Blue Crush (1st version: April 2012, 2nd version April 28th, 2015)
  • Brushed Steel (September 2013)
  • Coral Crush (October 2014)
  • Dusk Gray (October 2013)
  • Extreme Edition (2009)
  • Extreme Edition Everest (2010)
  • Extreme Edition Red (October 2009)
  • Extreme Edition Silver (May 2010)
  • Glacier Gray (April 2011)
Suunto Core Glacier Gray
  • Graphite Crush (April 28, 2015)
  • Gray Crush (October 2014)
  • Green Crush (April 2013)
  • Lava Red (April 2011)
  • Light Black (September 2007)
  • Light Green (September 2007)
  • Lime Crush (October 2014)
  • Red Bull X-Alps (May 2011)
  • Red Crush (August 2012)
  • Regular Black
  • Sahara Yellow (April 2011)
  • Steel Steel (September 2007)
  • Ultimate Black (April 28, 2015)
  • Violet Crush (April 2013)
  • White Crush (October 2014)
  • Yellow Crush (April 2012)

List of Suunto Ambit series[edit]

Suunto Ambit2 Black
  • Ambit (black, silver: 2012)
  • Ambit2 (black, silver, sapphire: 2013)
  • Ambit2 R (black, white: 2014)
  • Ambit2 S (white, red, lime, graphite: 2013, Black Limited Edition: June 2015)
  • Ambit3 Peak (black, sapphire: July 2014, Nepal Edition: September 2015, Sapphire Blue: November 2015)
  • Ambit3 Run (black, lime, white: March 2015)
  • Ambit3 Sport (blue, sapphire, black, white: July 2014, Coral: March 2015)

Lifestyle watches[edit]

When publishing Kailash, Suunto also introduced their new approach, separating branches: together with Essential and Elementum, Kailash is now forming a new branch called Suunto 7R, which is a collection of lifestyle watches, while watches for sports and performing present a separate category.[20]

Suunto Kailash was published on October 14, 2015. It is including GPS-receiver but premium appear is its main feature. This product is mainly designed for travellers. Kailash is also the first product of forthcoming Suunto world series.

On January 15, 2015 Suunto released Essential collection of premium watches. Functionally these resemble the Core but are made in Finland out of premium materials.[21] Finnish design and manufacture is emphasized, creating contrast with China-made Core.

Suunto also manufactures the Elementum series of premium wristwatches with some specialized functions for outdoor (Terra), sailing (Ventus) and water activities (Aqua, discontinued).

List of Suunto lifestyle watches[edit]

  • Elementum Aqua (Diving)
  • Elementum Terra (ABC)
  • Elementum Ventus (BC, Sailing)
  • Essential (ABC)
  • Kailash (ABC, GPS)


Memory belt is an improved version of Smart belt. These are heart rate straps which can, in addition of sending data to watch, work independently. These record heart rate using internal memory, and data can then be transmitted directly to computer with special dock.

Smart sensor is a heart rate belt unit released along with Ambit3 series, and it also has internal memory for recording data, but it needs a starting and stopping command. It is recording data if connection between belt and wrist computer is broken, then sending data when reconnected. This is the first product of Movesense series (which is produced in co-operation with Salomon).

GPS Track Pod is a small device including GPS receiver. It records route, altitude and distance into its internal memory, then the data can be transferred to computer through cable. Besides working independently, it can send speed and distance data wirelessly.

On February 4, 2015 Suunto released Guiding Star, a silver pendant for women. It is designed by Finnish jewelry designer Lina Simons and made in Finland in co-operation with Suunto and Kalevala Jewelry. This is the first piece of jewelry by Suunto.[22]


Suunto provides software for interpreting recorded data from watches and for controlling them.

For T6 there was Training Manager software and for T3 and T4 there was Training Manager Lite.

In the beginning of 2010 Suunto released Movescount online service. In 2014 Suunto introduced an app for using Movescount functions in iOS mobile devices. After being delayed multiple times, Movescount app for Android was released in May 4, 2015.

On May 4, 2015 Amer Sports announced having acquired Sports Tracker, which is at some level to be joining forces with Movescount.[23]

Suunto 7R -software brings connectivity between compatible 7R -watches and iOS-devices.

Diving computers and instruments[edit]

Suunto wrist mount diving compass

In 1965, a British sport diver noticed that Suunto’s liquid filled compass also worked underwater. Following this revelation, it didn’t take long before Suunto’s first dive compass, SK-4 (=SukellusKompassi, engl. diving compass) was launched and became well known for its durability and reliability. Among the users were explorers, ecologists and famous sea-dwellers like Jacques Cousteau. During the 1980s, Suunto became the world leader in the manufacturing of diving instruments. Having previously produced mechanical instruments, Suunto now started the production of electronic diving computers and launched the SME in 1987. This was Suunto’s most significant innovation of the decade and a major influence on scuba diving’s transition to a popular sport.

Suunto was the first to introduce:

Suunto is highly regarded around the world and is used by professionals like the freediver William Trubridge and the underwater explorer Jill Heinerth. Suunto also provides the official measurement instruments for all AIDA freediving world record attempts and World Championships competitions.

The product range of diving computers and instruments falls in:

Watch sized[edit]

  • D4i
  • D6i
  • D9tx
  • DX

Large Display[edit]

Suunto Vyper Air
  • Zoop
  • Vyper
  • Vyper Air
  • Cobra
  • Cobra 3
  • HelO2
  • EON Steel


Suunto in the media[edit]

  • Using Suunto Vectors and Garmin 60CSx GPS mapping receivers, Australians Nathan Welch and Mark Kalch became the fourth team in history to successfully navigate the entirety of the Amazon River.[24][25][26]
  • On April 4, 2008, Swiss climbers Ueli Steck and Simon Anthamatten made the first ascent of Mt. Tengkampoche's North Face in Nepal using Suunto Core wrist altimeters.[27]


  • Export award by President of Finland in 1972[28]
  • X10 was awarded "Best Adventure Gear of 2009" by National Geographic Adventure magazine.
  • Core won "Red Dot: Best of the best" award at the Red Dot design competition in Germany in 2010.
  • On February 13, 2013 Suunto won two "Good Design" -awards with Core Alu and Ambit
  • On February 14, 2013 D9TX won "Tauchen award" of 2013
  • On July 4, 2013 Ambit2 Sapphire was awarded with "Red Dot: Best of the best" -design award
  • On January 27, 2015 DX won "Tauchen Award" of 2015[29]
  • On February 4, 2015 Ambit3 Sport won "Good Design" award[30]

Suunto in movies[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Suunto Oy, Suunto Company History, December 2001 Article
  2. ^ Gubbins, David, Encyclopedia of Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism, Springer Press (2007), ISBN 1-4020-3992-1, ISBN 978-1-4020-3992-8, p. 67: In 1690, Sir Edmund Halley demonstrated a rudimentary working model of a liquid compass at a meeting of the Royal Society.
  3. ^ Fanning, A.E., Steady As She Goes: A History of the Compass Department of the Admiralty, HMSO, Department of the Admiralty (1986): The first liquid-filled mariner's compass to receive a patent as a working model was a nautical design invented by Englishman Francis Crow in 1813.
  4. ^ E.S. Ritchie & Sons Company, Inc. About Us, Article: In 1860, Edward Samuel Ritchie, an American physicist and instrument maker, received a U.S. patent for the first liquid-damped marine compass adopted for general use aboard ships and boats.
  5. ^ Hughes, Henry A., Improvements in prismatic compasses with special reference to the Creagh-Osborne patent compass, Transactions of The Optical Society 16 17-43, London: The Optical Society (1915): The first liquid-damped compass compact enough for pocket or pouch was the Creagh-Osborne, patented in 1915 in Great Britain.
  6. ^ The Compass Museum, Article: Though the Creagh-Osborne was offered in a wrist-mount model, it proved too heavy and bulky in this form.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Suunto customer service, discussed 29.9.2015
  11. ^ Dickison, Dan, Powerboat Reports Guide to Powerboat Gear: Take the Guesswork Out of Gear Buying, Globe Pequot Press (2006), ISBN 1-59228-069-2, ISBN 978-1-59228-069-8, pp. 91-93
  12. ^ Recta: More Than 100 Years of Heritage, Recta AG - About Us, retrieved 13 April 2012
  13. ^ a b Recta Kompassen,, retrieved 17 January 2014
  14. ^ Vorpe, Gilbert on behalf of Recta AG, Swiss Patent CH 663091, EC: G01C17/04, November 13, 1987
  15. ^ a b c Dickison, pp. 91-93
  16. ^ a b Morton, Keith, Planning a Wilderness Trip in Canada and Alaska, ISBN 0921102305,(1997), p. 110
  17. ^ What is a Global Needle, The Compass, retrieved 18 January 2014
  18. ^ Ministry of Defence, Manual of Map Reading and Land Navigation, HMSO Army Code 70947 (1988), ISBN 0-11-772611-7, ISBN 978-0-11-772611-6, ch. 8, sec. 26, pp. 6-7
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Press release by Amer Sports, March 12, 2015
  22. ^ (Press Release)
  23. ^ (Press Release)
  24. ^ Article
  25. ^ Article
  26. ^ Article
  27. ^ Steck Makes First Ascent of Tengkampoche North Face, Article
  28. ^ fi:Tasavallan Presidentin kansainvälistymispalkinto#1972
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Suunto Suunto Core All Black: questions, answers, how to, FAQs, tips, advice, answers, buying guide

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 60°16′19″N 24°58′22″E / 60.27194°N 24.97278°E / 60.27194; 24.97278