Monday, November 1, 2010

Equipment Change Proposal: Suunto edition

**Update: A picture is worth a thousand words:



Click to make bigger. The black watch is the Suunto, and you can see where the pathetic little nubbins of elastoplastofantastico broke with such ease. Also, you can see the Suunto's $40 replacement which connects the strap via big steel nubbins of stainless glory. Not gonna break there. I'm going to JB-Weld the hell out of the Suunto vice sending it back for a new plastocraptoelastomerase housing that will fall apart when exposed to pressure.

But to make my point, the engineers at Suunto managed to cram all that techno goodness into a rough and tough housing small enough to go onto your wrist, and then when it came down to the structural part that connects to the strap, they went to lunch. It's the exact same phenomenon that happened with my Maxpedition phone case. They built a hardcore case and then when it came to the belt clip they just stuck some junk on there and called it a day. No wonder we outsource so much labor to China; if it's going to suck, might as well make it cheap too!

To any engineers that may make it to this site, please take the time to do a 100% job so that stuff doesn't suck.

****

OK, so my Suunto Vector watch broke on me again this weekend, and I'm really pissed off about it. If you recall, I broke it earlier this summer after it was waaaaay out of warranty, but Suunto fixed it for $55 which made me happy. Turn around time was short as well.

So Saturday night the holes where the pin that attaches the wrist strap broke clean in the exact same way it broke before. The pin just pulled right through with little effort. At the time, I was wrestling in a life-or-death fight with a crazed killer in an alleyway sitting on my bed holding baby CTone, and as I casually placed my arm down as support so I could lean back, that's when the watch broke. Again, no effort involved; the watch had just slipped down to where my wrist bends, and when I put my weight onto my hand, I felt the watch give.

So now I'm looking at the back of the watch, right at the failure point, and it dawns on me how shitty the construction of the watch housing is. I forgot to take a picture this morning to show you, but here's a 5.11 watch that had a similar failure, and you can at least get an idea of the problem.

Now I'm no engineer, but I am a mechanically minded soul who has built a ton of shit in his time. You people out there who have also built a ton of shit take a look at that last link at that man's watch and tell me: who the hell thought that it was a great idea to construct a watch with a tough housing to hold all the cool ballistic doodads, and then just go all half assed on where the strap connects?

"Hey Earl, you reckon we aughta put some more material in there, you know, where the strap thingy that physically holds the watch to the arm attaches? Looks like there's barely enough material there to hold off a good sneeze."

"Hell no! What are you crazy? Failure points Shmearlure points!!! We're engineers for cryin' out loud!! We do shit our way, even if it sucks and makes no sense!!"

"So what, you wanna keep it that way? It would be so simple to just reinforce that area to make it stronger, and we would end up with a product that is 100% bomb proof! We could really be proud of what we built!"

"No. Just. . . .no. If anything, we should make those pin holes as thin as possible to save the company the extra money for the high tech polymer. If the damn thing breaks, that's not my problem."

So there you have it. I was browsing the comments on the Suunto website, and noticed a glaring trend where people bitch about the wrist straps breaking. I found this to be the case with the Vector, as the strap on mine basically rotted off from several years of me never taking the watch off. Ultimately it's going to happen with anything other than aluminum or steel, which brings me to my latest dilemma: do I send my shitty Vector back to Suunto for another $55 servicing, after which I will have an awesome watch that could be ripped off my wrist by any four year old kid, or do I buy a Casio G-Shock from Wal-Mart for $50, and then save up some cash for a quality watch made of steel that's not likely to fold like a cardboard box the moment it has some torque applied to it?

The thing that gets me is that no one out there that I know of makes a watch with the features of the Suunto or Casio Pathfinder in a material that doesn't suck. I'm thoroughly convinced at this point that plastic watches are basically just disposable. Suunto just happens to make really awesome disposable watches, and if I want something that will last me a lifetime and I can pass down to one of my kids, it has to be constructed from something that has stood the test of time.

What it all boils down to is that I have plenty of other things to spend money on right now, least of which is fixing something that was supposed to already be fixed. I don't have time for that.

Suunto, why don't you make us all a bad-ass watch that doesn't suck? Can you make one out of steel? And by steel, I don't mean one that has a bunch of steel held together by that worthless elastospectacularplastomer bullshit that you guys cheerlead on your website; I mean a hardcore steel housing with a steel wrist strap held on by big ole' honkin steel pins. Can you do that for me please, thanks much.
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