Suunto was founded in 1936 by outdoors man and a keen orienteering enthusiast Tuomas Vohlonen, who had long been bothered by a problem: the inaccuracy of traditional dry compasses and their lack of steady needle operation. Being an engineer with an inventive turn of mind, he discovered and patented the production method for a much steadier needle, better readings and a new level of accuracy.
In 1950’s Suunto was producing both field compasses and marine compasses, and the company was exporting compasses to over 50 countries around the world, including Canada and the United States. In 1952 Helsinki was hosting the Olympic Games, and the torches carried to light the Olympic flame were Suunto products. The first marine compass, Suunto K-12, was launched onto the market in 1953. Couple of years later, in 1957, Suunto started manufacturing hypsometers, which measure the height of trees. In 1960’s the compass range grew further, and Suunto introduced its first diving compass – initiated by the divers themselves. A British sports diver attached a Suunto compass to his wrist, and found that the device also worked underwater. Thanks to his feedback and initiatives, the new business category was found! In the following years Suunto’s exports and business grew steadily. Suunto focused on combining its strength in precision mechanics with new skills in electronics. Accuracy, reliability, and ruggedness have been Suunto’s key values from the very beginning of the company history.
In 1987 saw the appearance of what was later to prove the seed of much of the company’s later growth, with the start of mass production of the SME dive computer. Previously, the diver had to calculate the safety duration of a dive and decompression time with help of diving tables. Now, a small computer and its algorithms could help take care of safety.
A dive computer that fits on the wrist, combined with an electronic compass, Suunto Spyder, provided the foundation for Suunto’s next market conquest, the Suunto Vector in 1998. The Suunto Vector wristop computer was designed for outdoor leisure use. It measures air pressure, and therefore altitude, and helps in predicting changes in the weather as well as it displays direction and time. The Suunto Vector paved the way for the next generation of wristop computers that were developed in the new millennium. In 2004 Suunto introduced Suunto D9, the first unit that combined a dive computer and digital compass.
In the same year Suunto entered a new field with the first training products, the Suunto t6, a heart rate monitor which gives sports laboratory –quality measurements on training and its effects on the user’s fitness. The Suunto t6 was followed with the whole series of training products in 2006 and thus the company entered more deeply into the fitness category.
In 2007 Suunto introduced a new series of Outdoor sports instruments: Suunto Core and Suunto Lumi. The Suunto Core combines the Suunto heritage with a contemporary design direction and offers the advanced ABC – altimeter, barometer and compass – functions. Suunto Lumi is the first female outdoor instrument specifically made for women and also designed by women. Both products have been very successful in international design competitions: Suunto Core was awarded by the reddot Best of the Best nomination and Suunto Lumi both reddot design award and if design award in 2008. Suunto HelO2 dive computer was brought onto the market early 2009. It is the first dive computer from Suunto with full mixed gas capability. The dive computer is designed specifically for technical divers – divers who use multiple gases such as trimix, nitrox and oxygen to go deeper for longer exploring wreck and caves, for example.
Suunto’s first premium sports watch collection, Suunto Elementum, was introduced in spring 2009. The Suunto Elementum is a watch for the urbanites: active city dwellers with interest in sailing, diving and outdoor activities, who value the combination of style and function.
Today, Suunto is a leading designer and manufacturer of sports instruments for training, diving, mountaineering, hiking, skiing, sailing and golf. Prized for their design, accuracy and dependability, Suunto sports instruments combine the aesthetics and functionality of watches with sport-specific computers that help athletes at all levels analyze and improve performance. Headquartered in Vantaa, Finland, Suunto employs more than 500 people worldwide and distributes its products to over 100 countries. The company is a subsidiary of Helsinki-based Amer Sports Corporation with the sister brands Wilson, Salomon, Atomic, Precor, Arc’teryx and Mavic.
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