Suunto - A Brief History

Suunto - A Brief History

Suunto are known to us in the diving industry for dive computers, compasses and consoles, but the parent company also makes technology for other sports in their factory in Finland. They take pride in their Finnish roots and the extreme conditions in which their products are tested.  The Suunto dive team for example regularly test products in the hardcore Ojamo Mine.  The mine reaches depths of up to 250 meters and has a stretch of tunnel 1.7 kilometres long!  Below is a brief history of one of the world’s premier dive computer manufacturers.

 In 1936, Finnish orienteer Tuomas Vohlonen pledged to create a more accurate compass.  He invented a new method for manufacturing liquid‐filled compasses that had an accurate, steady needle. Tens of thousands of the M-34 compass were issued to the Finnish army during the second world war. The Suunto tag line “Replacing Luck” originated from the story of a Finnish soldier, who in 1939 narrowly avoided death from the bullet of a Russian sniper.  The bullet hit the robust field compass in his pocket!

In 1965 a British diver took a Suunto cross-country liquid filled compass underwater and it worked perfectly.  The SK4 was introduced and the rest is history! Even Jacques Cousteau owned one.

The company’s first dive computer was launched in`1987 – the SME-ML.  It eliminated the need to calculate dive times from tables.  It was a chunky size but it was not until 1997 when the Spyder was developed – a watch sized multi-level computer, soon followed by the famous Stinger.  In 2004 Suunto added what it was initially famous for – a compass - into an air integrated digital computer called the D9.  The D series continued to evolve all the way up to the DX in 2013 which had full trimix and CCR capabilities and the all-new Suunto Fused RGBM (Reduced Gradient Bubble Model) algorithm. Proceeding that in 2009 the HelO2 was brought to market – Suunto’s first multiple gas/trimix ‘big face’ computer.

The “next generation” dive computer was launched in 2015 – the Suunto EON Steel which broke all tradition, with a rectangular colour screen and customisable features.  This was followed by the smaller EON Core – its recreational little sister in 2017. These models have rechargeable batteries and a tank POD (instead of a transmitter) using a digital signal rather than analogue.

The D5 runs on the same EON system (colour screen, algorithm, rechargeable battery and tank POD) but in a watch-sized package.  It is also popular with the freediving market.  What sets this lovely piece of engineering apart is the compatibility with the Suunto App which allows the user to log and share their diving experience. This is now also available with the EON Steel and Core. The D5 also has user- changeable colour straps.

For service, UK distribution and customer care Suunto Diving UK are based in the sleepy Hampshire  village of Lower Farringdon, close to Alton.  This is the team you will see representing the company at UK dive shows and who supply your local dive shop.  All keen divers themselves (many technical), they are dedicated to promoting and rigorously testing the brand here in the UK and promote UK diving on their own social media platforms. They are also the UK distributors for Beuchat and Finnsub.

Finally, Suunto are part of Mission2020.  They are committed to minimizing single-use plastics in packaging and use durable materials to ensure a long lifetime for products and capability for maintenance. “Through our certified and audited environmental management system we are and continue to be committed to save our common playground.”