Full disclosure: I received this watch from Suunto in my function as an (unpaid) external beta tester for them.
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What is the Suunto Spartan Sport WHR Baro?
The Suunto Spartan Sport WHR (Wrist Heart Rate) Baro is the latest addition to the company’s Spartan collection of watches.
It takes the Valencell optical heart rate sensor (Suunto’s Wrist Heart Rate) of the Sport WHR models and their smaller size in terms of thickness, due to their smaller battery. But, it adds in the barometric pressure (and thus barometer and altitude) sensor that all Spartan models other than the top-of-the-line Spartan Ultra have been missing.
The whole Spartan collection is Suunto’s latest line of outdoors sports watches.
Starting with the Spartan Ultra released in summer/fall of 2016, they are mainly differentiated from other sports watches by their use of a touch screen. The looks are rather sleek, but the launch was unfortunate as the Spartan was presented as something of a successor to the Ambit “family” of watches, promised a lot of features, but was released without most of those.
There are still features missing that would have been expected from an Ambit successor and that were promised to come soon. That said, the performance of the watches has steadily improved, which many of the early reviews still fail to reflect.
Who is the Suunto Spartan Sport WHR Baro for?
The WHR Baro model is made for people who want the comfort or convenience of getting heart rate measurements straight from the wrist, without the need for a chest strap, from a relatively light watch, but without giving up more-sensitive altitude (ascent, descent) measurement.
In other words, mountain runners who are fast and need a little HR guidance at most.
There’s a reason Kilian Jornet was spotted with this watch a while before it was even officially announced…
Who is it not for?
If you run ultramarathons and are slow, or if you have issues with optical heart rate measurements from your wrist (which tend to be rather inaccurate compared to chest straps, which can even get you heart rate variability measurements and data calculated from that), then the Spartan WHR Baro might not be for you.
(You could still use it with an HR chest strap, however.)
If you are looking for a small watch or a true smartwatch, then this model might not be ideal for you, either.
If you are not usually in the mountains or not too concerned about altitude measurements and storm alarm, the Baro version may be overkill.
What models/versions are there?
The Spartan Sport WHR Baro comes in either a black-and-steel “Stealth” version or an “Amber” version with a different steel bezel and an orange strap.
The straps of this watch, by the way, are standard 24 mm “NATO” straps with easy-release pins.
First Set-up (Startup Wizard)
When you first get a Suunto Spartan collection watch like the Sport WHR Baro, there is the Startup Wizard to go through:
It is all pretty self-explanatory, except maybe for the attempt at setting time from GPS (which would require that you step outside to get a good GPS fix).
Remember to also register for Movescount and/or connect the watch to the service via the Suuntolink software so you can store data, sync settings and routes, customize sports modes.
First Steps with Movescount
You should also head to Movescount and make sure that your body parameters there are set up correctly (so that the watch’s calculations work right), set your profile the way you want it…
In simple use as a watch, the Suunto Spartan Collection watches (currently, as of October 2017, software 1.11) offer:
- Dual Time (i.e. second time zone display)
- Alarm (once, workdays meaning Monday to Friday, daily; with alarm sound or alarm sound plus vibration; a vibration-only alarm is not available)
- Stopwatch (simple start/stop, no lap times)
- Countdown timer (with a few preset times or a custom time between 11 seconds and 48 hours 59 minutes 59 seconds)
The software update 1.11 of October 2017 adds a new “outdoor watchface” to the Suunto Spartan collection. A nice one, with sunrise and sunset as well as moon phase:
Other watch faces also show time and some (typically, rather few) data fields, either in analog or in digital display and always with the same few (and not terribly different) color accents to choose from.
Individually customized or created watch faces are not (yet?) available, and frankly, something so gimmicky would be quite unusual to get from Suunto.
A Spartan watch barely works as anything like a smartwatch. Notifications from a phone (with the Suunto Movescount app installed and the watch connected to that) are being displayed as they arrive, but that’s about it.
Rather typical for Suunto is that a “Do Not Disturb”-mode has already been implemented, anyways. When that is active (either manually activated or automatically, at user-set times), then only the time is being shown on the watch face, the alarm could activate, but no other disturbances are allowed.
(This functionality is quite important in its interaction with sleep tracking…)
What the Suunto Spartan collection offers quite a bit of are tracking features:
- Activity, i.e. steps and calories
- Sleep (newly added in software 1.11)
- Altitude / air pressure
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