When we posted a story yesterday about our recent visit to Suunto headquarters in Finland, we hinted that there were big things to come from the outdoor watchmaker. But, at the time that article was written, we weren’t able to spill the beans on anything specific. Fortunately, the wait wasn’t a long one, as the company has just announced the Suunto Spartan, its next generation watch designed specifically with multi-sport and outdoor athletes in mind.
If you’ve ever used one of Suunto’s Ambit watches you already know how much technology and functionality that the company’s designers can manage to squeeze onto our wrists. In fact, the Ambit has been a mainstay in the outdoor community for years and is popular with everyone from long distance hikers to ultrarunners. But with the Spartan it appears that Suunto is taking things to a whole new level, adding some intriguing new features that will really help it stand out from the crowd.
Probably the most noticeable of those new features is the bright, full-color, touchscreen display that shares information on the face of the Spartan. This screen allows users to interact with the watch in a variety of ways, including navigating through menus, starting and stopping workout routines, configuring the device, and accessing notifications. Suunto says that the screen is very easy to read, even outdoors in direct sunlight, and that it will open up a range of new possibilities that weren’t possible in previous fitness watch models.
As you would expect, the Spartan comes equipped with GPS tracking capabilities, a digital compass, barometric altitude sensor, and the ability to navigate routes with onscreen prompts. It has an onboard accelerometer and is compatible with an optional heart rate sensor for tracking performance during a workout too. On top of that, the Spartan’s new operating system has built-in profiles for dozens of different sports and it can be paired with your smartphone to store and track information over time. It will even record your personal best times, speeds, and distances too.
One of the more intriguing new features for this watch is called “Heatmaps.” Using data from Suunto’s Movescount app and website, the Spartan is able to help the user to discover new running, cycling, swimming, and even skiing routes in their area. Heatmaps show which routes are most popular, and provides prompts that allow you to follow them during your own workouts too. Those routes appear on the Spartan’s colorful display embossed over topographic maps of the region. This can come in handy while working out at home of course, but it will be really useful when visiting a new place as well.
The Spartan is rugged and has been built for the outdoors. It is waterproof down to 100 meters and is said to have a battery life that is “competitive” with similar watches from other manufacturers. What that means in terms of real-world performance remains to be seen. Availability of the new watch has not been announced yet, and the website lists its price as starting at 649 €. That translates to roughly $735, although specific North American pricing has yet to be announced. Stay tuned for further updates from Suunto on this very intriguing product.