Courtesy of Suunto

The long awaited Suunto 9 review is finally here. It's smooth, shiny, sexy and perhaps a bit of a showoff, so when we got our sticky mitts on it, we wondered how best to really put it through its paces and see if it was a serious contender in OCR, or just a pretty face. Give it to Lee, we thought. He’ll show it a good time… So without further ado – it’s over to Lee. Or, Jeremy Clarkson.

I’m going to break this review down into 4 sections, utilising the scoring system from Robot Wars: damage, control, style and aggression. If it was good enough to grade fighting robots… It's good enough to grade snazzy bits of kit.

Damage: How much can it take?

The Suunto 9 is a robust bit of kit, the watchstraps are chunky and the month battering I have given it hasn’t even left a mark. The sapphire glass screen with covered metal bezel hasn’t got a scratch from the abuse of obstacle racing, however in the depths of mud, don’t expect the touch screen and wrist-based HR monitor to work to their full potential.

Control: How easy is it to use?

Touch screen controls with three external buttons make up the controls for the Suunto 9, and if I’m honest, I found it very fiddly and frustrating. I found the touch screen extremely temperamental (I thought I’d broken it at one stage until it started working again about a week later). The buttons themselves are all on the right-hand side of the watch, which if wearing on the left arm, are easily pushed by your wrist when climbing over walls etc. (As I found out at Nuts when it kept stopping).

Style: At the end of the day does it look good?

It’s a lovely looking bit of kit, however it lacks the customisation of the Garmin watch faces, which I realise is a bit of a gimmick… But it’s still cool to have a personalised element to the watch instead of pre-set watch faces to choose from. The mid tracking data screens also seemed a little lacking and I was again, missing the customisation options of the Fenix 3.

Aggression: From me

This watch has massive potential but I feel it’s lacking features you’d expect from a £500 watch. For example, the Suunto app allows the use of maps to create a route to run… However it doesn't have the ability to transfer the GPX that you’ve made to the watch, which to me seems counterintuitive. Of course this might come with time, but it’s a lot of money to spend on something when competitor software and capability is already there.

Also the tracking seems to go all over the place once the watch hits water - as demonstrated by my 85kms at Nuts on Sunday. The tracking seemed pretty spot on at Redbull Quicksand though, which leads me to think that it copes better in dry conditions.

Final thoughts

Overall it’s an excellent quality watch with some good features and a lot of potential… But I want to purchase something that works now, not something that might be really good in the future. For me, it doesn't live up to the £499.99 price tag. If you’re doing land-based adventure racing, like smooth looking wristwear and don’t mind the lack of customisation, this could be for you, but it’s not as OCR friendly as I would like.

[Header photo: © IAN CORLESS @ RedBull]


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