Suunto was founded in 1936 by outdoors man and keen orienteering enthusiast Tuomas Vohlonen. Today its president Mikko Moilanen is driving the brand across the outdoor realms and among City boys and office workers. He talks R&D, awards and his favourite timepieces.
WatchPro: Suunto’s number of fans is growing in the watch world thanks to its technology and slick design. Tell us about the brand’s development in the UK…
Mikko Moilanen: Our consistent innovations – such as the Suunto App Zone – and our commitment to listening to feedback from our customers, ensures we have a range of watches that sit as comfortably on the outdoor adventurer as on the urbanite who aspires to adventure. We’re experiencing unprecedented growth in the UK at present, so it’s an exciting time for everyone involved with the brand.
In Diving, Suunto holds the leading position with over 60% market share in the UK. We are very pleased about the respect and trust Suunto has earned from British divers. We have a long heritage in the UK – it was actually a British diver who originally discovered back in the 1960s that a Suunto compass worked underwater. This discovery acted as the first spark of Suunto’s diving business.
In Outdoor, we not only cater for the outdoor athlete, with our hugely successful Core and Ambit GPS watches, but we have more recently launched a premium watch range aimed at active city dwellers. These two models are designed for those with an interest in watersports or outdoor activities respectively. They integrate the craftsmanship of traditional timepieces with state-of-the-art digital technology. And we mustn’t forget our Quest and M Series of fitness and training watches.
WP: What kind of R&D goes into creating a Suunto watch?
MM: We have a passion for excellence, which shows in the R&D work we do. We want our products to look and feel good on the wrist of users, but most importantly, that they are built to last even in the toughest conditions. Our R&D plays a central role in ensuring the highest quality of our watches – total reliability and durability, seamless functionality of different algorithms, great sensors – getting every detail right. We have a long heritage in innovation, and we really are passionate about getting it right.
WP: How often does Suunto release new products?
MM: Our product development is driven by consumer and market needs, but in general you could say that we are launching new products a couple of times a year. Sometimes they might be new variants complementing the range of existing products, sometimes completely new products.
WP: You have won several awards for your timepieces – what has been the most exciting to date?
MM: The latest awards we have received are the Good Design award for our Ambit and Core Alu watches, and the Red Dot Design Award and Tauchen Award for our D9TX dive computer, along with the Outdoor Inspiration Award that we received in the US in January for the Ambit. We are proud of every one of them, but the Outdoor Inspiration Award makes us especially proud – it is thrilling to be recognized for inspiring others in the industry for our consumer focused product development.
WP: What are your plans to develop Suunto both in the UK, and globally?
MM: The sports instruments and sports watches market is big, and our plan is naturally to grow the Suunto market share, and strengthen the Suunto brand in it, step by step.
WP: Finally, what kind of watch do you wear?
MA: I do have some traditional premium watch brands’ watches, but they are mostly in my drawer. I wear different Suunto watches depending on the occasion. My favourite Suunto watches are the Suunto Ambit and Suunto D6i All Black.