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Suunto Core Watch Review

Suunto Core Multifunction Watch

9/10 Based on Ken's Review
Suunto Core Watch - All Black Military For $299

This week I'm reviewing the Suunto Core Multifunction All Black Military Watch, which I purchased from REI for $299.

This watch also comes in Glacier Gray which is basically the same watch but with a silver bezel instead of black, and the LCD polarizer flipped normally so that the face becomes silver and the time becomes black.

The Flipped LCD Polarizer (like it or dislike it?)

At first I was a little weary of buying a watch with a flipped polarized filter because of their poor visibility in low light. In grade school (many years ago), I would flip the filter on my calculator to get the same effect.

The dimness of the watch has started to grow on me however, and the dark screen better matches the watch bezel and band. If the dimness of the watch is a concern then you might want to think about going with the Glacier Gray version.


  • Accurate compass, barometer, and altitude measurements
  • I've tested the compass and barometer for accuracy using an analog compass and current weather data from my area. Both are consistently correct. The barometer, and 3 hour history graph of pressure, are great for interpreting trending weather conditions. The altimeter is accurate as long as you use a starting reference height since pressure is used to calculate height. The compass requires a one time calibration, but the manual recommends that you calibrate once in a while for improved accuracy.

  • Glass watch cover (Much more scratch resistant than plastic)
  • So many digital watches use plastic covers these days that it's a welcomed relief to see that the Core is glass.

  • Storm Alarm (Alerts you to impending weather)
  • When the storm alarm mode is activated the watch will alert you anytime there is a sudden drop in barometric pressure. There will be false alarms, especially in the winter months, but overall the alarm does a great job.

  • Sunrise & Sunset Times
  • Set your location once and this mode shows you the current sunrise and sunset times for your area.

  • Alarm has a snooze function
  • I didn't notice this feature until the alarm woke me up in the morning and gave me the option to snooze. Isn't that feature only on dedicated alarm clocks? I love it.

  • Compass gives directions to keep you on course
  • While in compass mode you can use the bottom left button to scroll through what the lower display shows. Once you get to a blank screen, hold down the top left button and your current heading will be locked in. Now the compass will give you directions, left and right with arrows, to keep you on course. This is a great feature of the Suunto Core.


  • Watch cannot lay flat on its back
  • The watch band is permanently curved where it joins the watch. This is great for contouring around your wrist but bad if you want to lay the watch flat instead of possibly scratching the side of the watch by always laying it on its side.

  • Dim readout can be difficult to view in certain lighting conditions
  • The watch face is dim and the illuminator is also dim. In complete darkness the Core's illuminator button lights up the watch perfectly. There are times however when it's a little too dark to read the watch unaided but not dark enough for the watch light to illuminate the watch face. I particularly notice this at sunrise and sunset while driving. I feel Suunto could have given the watches illuminator a bit more power. If you're in daylight or even office lighting you won't notice anything when you press the light button.

  • Black powder coat can be susceptible to scratching
  • Not a problem unique to the Suunto Core, but any watch with an anodized coating instead of bare metal or plastic. Some people prefer the scratching as it provides a little extra character. I guess it can, just a matter of opinion and not a huge negative for the watch in any case.

  • Difficult to remove from wrist
  • The band of this watch is plastic and the cross strap is plastic and the fit it pretty snug, so therefore the friction to slide the cross strap off is pretty high. This is great for keeping the watch on your wrist but the downside is that it's a little difficult to remove.

Adjusting the Contrast of the Suunto Core

Your Suunto Core may be set to a contrast setting that is making it difficult to read, or very dim depending how it was set at the factory or at the store. There are 15 contrast levels. Zero being so dim you can just barely read the display, to 15. I keep my Core set at 8. This level is pretty much optimal.

To adjust the contrast press and hold all four outer buttons, but not the middle button located at the crown position. The word "Suunto" will apear on the screen and then go blank. Hold down the top left button until "Suunto" apears again and let go. Hold down the top left button again until the word "Version" appears. Use the bottom right button to scroll to "Contrast" and then the middle crown button to select. From there you may change the contrast setting and see each result in real time before exiting with the bottom left button.

Battery Life

The battery life of the Suunto Core is listed as 1 year with normal use. I've read some reviews complaining of poor battery life. I've yet to encounter this. The battery is a 3V CR2032. With everything this was does and constantly monitors, I can see how the battery would be depleted faster than a regular watch without all the extra functions. I can live with a one year replacement time for everything the Core can do.


The Suunto Core carries the Suunto Limited Warranty which, at Suunto's sole discretion, remedy defects in materials or workmanship free of charge either by repairing, replacing, or refunding. The warranty is good for 2 years after purchase of the watch. The warranty that came with the watch states that it does not cover normal wear and tear, defects caused by rough handling or damage caused by misuse. The warranty also states that exposure to chemicals including mosquito repellents can void the warranty. Pretty standard warranty stuff. I've paraphrased of course.

Overall Recommendation

Anna and I love the Suunto Core. It's certainly worth the $300 price tag to me. If you're concerned about the dim screen I'd recommend the Glacier model. If you'd like your watch to lay flat on a table I'd recommend the Suunto Crush, which is the same watch but with a different band attachment design. If neither of these are problems for you then the Suunto Core would be the way to go. It's stylish, functional, and eye catching.

Suunto Core Multifunction Watch
Dec 10, 2013
9.0/10 stars
The Suunto Core Multifunction All Black Military style watch is stylish, rugged, well made, and equipped to handle whatever your outdoor adventure has in store.

Click here to purchase the Suunto Core for $299 From

Other Suunto Core Models are available, they Include the Glacier Grey model, The Suunto Core Crush, And the Brushed Steal Model:

Suunto Core Multifunction Watch - Glacier Gray Suunto Core Crush Multifunction Watch Suunto Core Multifunction Watch - Brushed Steel

John wrote:

I returned the Suunto Core because I needed the cash for other things and now I wish I had it back!

Keith wrote:

Thanks for the review. I just bought the suunto. My girlfriend loves how it looks. I like how it functions.

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