On the Hunt for a New Watch Compass: Suunto Clipper Discontinued *Update* - ITS Tactical

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On the Hunt for a New Watch Compass: Suunto Clipper Discontinued *Update*

By Bryan Black

Watch Compass Hunt

Update: The search is over! We’ve finally been able to source the Suunto Clipper Compass and have it available in our online Store. Click here to order the new Suunto Clipper Compass.

I’ve worn a watch compass for the better part of 6 years now and have always favored the Suunto Clipper, despite it’s drawbacks and owning a total of four of them throughout this time. While this could be why the watch compass was recently discontinued by Suunto, I’ve been searching for a good replacement since the last one I had gave up the ghost.

I slammed it against a ladder about a month ago, causing the bezel and the compass to separate from the carrier and go flying across our warehouse here at ITS HQ. I tried to superglue the clipper back together again, but for some reason, either the superglue reacted strangely with the compass and caused the liquid to discolor and leak out, or there was a hairline fracture from the impact that I didn’t catch.

Either way, I went on an internet search to find a replacement, or even see if I could find a vendor that still had the Suunto Clipper in stock.

Brunton Watchband Slider Compass

The first compass I came across that looked halfway decent was the Brunton Watchband Slider Compass. I had seen some other “cheaper” options, but went with a name brand, hoping that they’d live up to the quality of the Suunto Clipper.

Watch Compass Hunt

I was wrong. The Brunton is simply glued to a rubber watchband slider and I knew the first knock it took would send it flying. Sure enough, the other day my wrist hit up against a display at a store and the liquid filled compass sailed into the sunset.

One of the inherent issues with the small liquid-filled watch compasses is if they take a good hit, they’ll develop an air bubble. This air bubble can lead to the compass becoming inaccurate, due to the bubble pressing the dial down in a direction it shouldn’t. After retrieving the Brunton, I noticed an air bubble had formed as well. Instead of gluing this one back together, I’m on a mission again to find an alternative, as the Brunton doesn’t warrant an attempt at repair. It’s an inherently poor design.

Watch compasses aren’t the most accurate devices in the world, but for backup purposes I really like having one around. As you might have read in my review of my G-Shock Watch and Suunto Clipper, they’re also prone to becoming demagnetized easily if you wear a wedding ring on your wrist band as I commonly did before I realized it was causing an issue. When I was working out, I’d put my wedding ring on my watch to prevent losing it.

So again, I’m on the hunt for a new watch compass. Anyone have ideas on what I should try next?

Update: The search is over! We’ve finally been able to source the Suunto Clipper Compass and have it available in our online Store. Click here to order the new Suunto Clipper Compass.

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Discussion

  • Trent

    M9 Sighting wrist compass

    http://www.thecompassstore.com/51m9.html

  • Darin Kroger

    Casio Pathfinder series. It has compass as well as altimeter, barometer, etc and has been my EDC watch for most of the past 5 years. I have banged it against all sorts of stuff and it has held on and held up well. The model I have is charged via solar so no need to every replace batteries. There is another model that has syncs with the atomic clock so no issues with ever setting/changing times. 2 thumbs up from me on this watch.

    • Ed

      I second that…great watch. Casio Pathfinder series.

    • BLACK

      +100 on the CASIO G-SHOCK PATHFINDER.
      If one does a bit of frugal shopping, they can be found at about 100.00.
      Sports Authority had them marked off 50% from 200.00 not too long ago.
      I only have 2 years on mine but its displaying the typical boring reliability that its less equipped siblings. The Barometer takes a bit of adjusting and needs a minute to adjust itself but it runs like a sewing machine.

  • Jeff

    I was considering the same issue, and was considering trying out this one next… seemed closest i could find. http://www.amazon.com/Precision-Watch-Clip-Navigation-Compass/dp/B000UPOMM2 I’m not a huge fan of the maker of it considering one of their card tools and I didn’t get along well… but never can tell till you try it.

  • Greg

    Look to the SCUBA worlds there are a couple of options there. Trident makes one that at the price point you could afford to replace occasionally. Under $10. I think UWATEC makes one that may work for you as well.

  • Zack

    How do you guys feel about digital compasses?

    • 5.56PIG

      I have had relatively good luck with my Casio G’z Gear cell phone compass when compared against my lensatic compass. That being said, I “trust” my lensatic compass…..my cell phone is just back up…

  • Have you thought about going with a whole new watch? Possibly a digital compass such as the 5.11?

    Mine 5.11 has been through years of abuse and is still going strong. The compass has held true and never let me down so far.

    • MQ

      I wish I could say the same. After one year, my 5.11 field ops watch broke on me (the wrist band attachment pieces cracked). 5.11’s customer service was very helpful, as they sent me a new watch immediately without any proof that I even owned the watch. Finally, at year three, the watch is now dead.

    • ChrisC60

      Thats a bummer man, I’ve had 0 issues with mine. Its been through years of duty, I upgraded to the new watch recently that 5.11 came out with. Its been in the rain, snow, mud, dirt, oil, and all sorts of other things that I wish to never know that it has came in contact with. My band that secures the excess tail of the watch did break, but not for a while, I replaced it and was sent a new one from 5.11. Plus it can hold several time zones, compass as well as the ballistic calculator which i have used every now and again. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it is a fairly large watch, and putting gloves over it is eh, better suited putting the watch over gloves like advertised…but how many of us wear long sleeved uniforms and get that annoying watch/uniform/glove mess…I know it annoys me..

    • Gia

      I’ve been looking for a good tactical watch for my boyfriend for the academy graduation and also for some feedback on the 5.11 brand! Seems likes pretty nice watch and is decently priced in the middle of all the watches I’ve seen! Is there a specific model I should look into? Any info is greatly appreciated!

  • Nicholas Chen

    Sounds like it is time to upgrade to a quality watch. I have been wearing a Rolex GMT master since I inherited it from my dad in 2005. It was my graduation present.

    The GMT master has a 24 hour hand and is an automatic watch. Besides being able to hold 2 time zones (new GMT master II can hold 3 time zones) it can be used as a compass. Read the post on the link

    http://www.watchtalkforums.info/forums/rolex-discussion-forum/20768.htm

  • Check County Comm (http://www.countycomm.com/navcomp.html) I think its actually the exact same design as the Suunto. I had one for a while, but lost the bezel on a dive. My only complaint would be that the bezel seems to pop off fairly easy.

    • I have had both and can confirm that they are not the same. The CountyComm compass was cheaply built. It only lasted me a few months before I busted it and went back to the trusty Suunto.

      Although, I should say that it was 3 years that I tried the CountyComm. I see on their website that they list the current compass as “Rev 2”. Maybe the new ones are better.

    • I’ve got a couple of the countycomm rev 2 on order (amusingly before reading the comments), will set aside my suunto to play with these for the season, see how it goes and review when i’ve either broken or abused them enough.

  • JAE

    Wal Mart Coleman mini.

  • Gooch

    Try the Camenga Tritium Wrist Compass. I wear it on a band with my Traser Military watch.

  • Tim Hudson

    I wear the Suunto black mil-spec, love it, calibrate it from GPS (altimeter,compass, etc) and adjust temperature to deduct your body heat and it works well. The mil-spec has sunrise and sunset which I surprisingly use quite a bit. It has the reverse contrast screen which is nice and a backlight.

    • aa

      The Suunto Core mil spec is a great watch. One word of caution I had a core that was working fine took it on tour and it developed a fault where every so often it would re-set itself back to factory default i.e time set to 12:00 and tone every time you pressed a button. Suunto’s customer service was great and I got it repaired during R+R but on my next tour the same thing happened again. Suunto have replaced the watch with a Suunto Core all-black, the only difference I have found is that the way the strap attaches to the body of the watch.

      I am sure I was just unlucky with the first watch I had and I would still recomend them. The compass was accurate, the screen is easy to read and very well thought out (little things like the time is always visible even when you are using the altimeter or compass) Things I thought were gimics like the automatic mode on the the altimeter and the storm alarm have turned out to be useful. Suuntos customer service is excellent if you do have any porblems.

  • TC

    I believe the Countycomm one is the same model as the one linked to above at Amazon, which feels pretty flimsy. The bezel also pops off easily.

  • Matt

    I noticed this looking about a week or so ago for one with my G-Shock. Can not wait to see what you guys find as a few good replacement winners.

  • Tlocken

    I have got a suunto core that I have been wearing for a while and I love it. It has survived a deployment and my 15 month old the thing is pretty much bullet-proof. Plus the altimeter, and barometer, are a great plus, and the compass once calibrated works just as well as my issue compass. While not as expensive as the mil-spec it is a little smaller, and it has a reverse contrast screen.

  • Luke

    I have been using this one https://refactortactical.com/products/navigatio/silva-wrist-compass/ it has worked great so far.

  • Steven Brazzell

    I like the SE 1 Precision “Watch Band Clip-on” Navigation Compass Tool so long as the heading band doesn’t pop off, which it does whenever I seem to dig in my pockets or tucket in my shirt for CC. That’s the only annoying thing about it, which is pretty annoying.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003178LWS

  • G
    • The Captain

      Same as in “Luke’s” post, he likes his.

  • waypoint

    The SILVA 40 Watchband compass has served me very well. They come in two varieties; subdued all-black or luminous GITD. Subdued – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silva-36695-40-Watch-Compass/dp/B000MMBHKI. GITD – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silva-Sere-40-Wristlet-Compass/dp/B000NUST64/ref=pd_bxgy_ce_img_b

  • MKenyon

    Years ago, my father bought me one of these on a trip to Japan (Casio CPW-100 COMPASS LED):
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Rare-Vintage-Casio-CPW-100-COMPASS-LED-WATCH-JAPAN-USED-/220762216168

    I loved that watch. Still have it. However, the case cracked at the hinge, so I can no longer use a band. The digital compass was great on it.

    Now I’m looking at one of these (Casio – PATHFINDER PAG240-1 ):
    http://www.shopcasio.com/product/4035

  • aaron

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003178LWS/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i01

    Bought this cheap one off amazon like 4 months ago and it is still going strong the bezel ring came off but the compass is still kicking and its is pretty in expensive

  • Wahya

    Check out Trunord compasses. http://www.trunord.com/ They are very durable (I have had one in use for about 2 years now). Their wrist model may not fit on the G-shock without a bit of alteration however. The bonus is they actually compensate for your home location so that you you get a better grid north.

    • +1 on any of the Tru-Nord compasses there top notch mines been going strong for years.

      Marble makes a pretty good one as well if you want to stick to the $10 range, not as good as teh Tru-Nord but usable.

  • Homer J. Simpson

    Note that the watchband compass from Silva North America (actually Johnson Outdoors) is a piece of junk from Taiwan. The photo actually shows the Taiwan label on the compass disc.

    Stick with the Silva Europe SERE model, at least it’s a real Silva and not just a name licensed by Johnson Outdoors. You’ll have to pay more and wait longer for it to arrive from Europe.

  • Manel

    I need to check again but last week in my local suunto dealer there are stock of suunto clipper! It’s no problem send to you!

    Regards!

    • Al Bell

      Manel,
      Please call me if you get your hands on some Suunto 51-Clip-L. My number is 801-719-8887

  • Tyler

    If you’ve got the cash to spend, the new Suunto Ambit is where its at. Can’t say I have one myself, but it looks pretty sweet.

  • Bryan, there really aren’t that many good watch strap compass options out there. I’d consider stocking up on as many Suunto Clippers as you can! Given the genrally crappy quality of the other options, how about stepping up in size to a wrist compass? Admit ably they are much bigger and not what you are looking for specifically, but the Suunto M-9 wrist compass is a really nice piece of quality kit. I wear one backpacking as my backup because I know I’ll always have it with me if SHTF and I lose my pack. I reviewed it on my blog, but you can Google it for specs and more photos! Just an idea – I’ll be watching this thread just in case someone stumbles upon a good replacement for the Clipper 🙂

  • Jason

    Suunto Core….Great Watch!

  • Trapperjess

    Try the Navigator compass from countycomm.com I have heared good things about it. Countycomm is a govt supplier so the have lots of good stuff.

  • Bill Porter

    Just a quick update to let you know that you have been heard. The Suunto Clipper has been reintroduced as of 11/15/2012. What makes the Clipper different ( And a bit more expensive) then most of the other micros out there is that it is made in the same factory in Finland to the same standards as the rest of Suunto’s Mechanical Instruments.

    • That’s fantastic news Bill, I appreciate your comment and information behind the manufacture of the Clippers! Since you have a Suunto email address, I’m assuming that this is an official statement? 🙂

    • ir2wicked

      On the Suunto sight I do see a Clipper available, BUT it does not seem to illuminate, which for me is a deal breaker! In a SHTF scenario… it is not a guarantee that it will be DAYTIME! What if you have no source of light? Also I don’t really care for the blue/green background of the one I am seeing on their site. I had my hopes up for a moment with the posting from Bill Porter, but now I’m still on the search.

    • Sorry, the one you found is in the discontinued products group. Please find info on the new one at: http://www.suunto.com/global/en/products/compasses/suunto-clipper-lb-nh

      All the markings on the compass card are made with a luminescent material.

      Henrik from Suunto.

    • Oh that’s great Henrik! Any word on finding a place to actually purchase one? Sorting through the Dealer Locator is a bit of a struggle.

    • Mike,
      I would recommend using an internet search engine to find someone carrying it as our dealer locator does not work on a product resolution.

      More and more shops carry it every week so in the next two months or so it should already be easy to find the Suunto Clipper at a conveniently located shop. Also during the coming weeks we will have it in our suunto.com web shop. You need to select your country on the suunto.com site for the web shop to activate.

      Here is a link to the US suunto.com Suunto Clipper page with web shop where price and availability willl show up when it is available:
      http://www.suunto.com/us/en/products/compasses/suunto-clipper-lb-nh

      On the same page there is also an e-mail address link and a phone number for questions.

      Henrik from Suunto

  • Todd

    The Marathon clip compass is nearly identical to the Suunto. Marathon makes some great watches for the military so I assume the compass is of decent quality. I have had one on my Seiko SKX007 for several months without any issue. They are available from amazon for $5 each.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007A56ACA/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=itta-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B007A56ACA

  • Zac

    I had the same issue with the compass popping out with the first hit as well. My solution was using the adhesive called “Shoe Goo” been in ever since for about 2 years. Its yellowed a bit, Im not sure if thats from the adhesive or cheap plastic. Either way its a hell of a lot better than what it came with.

  • Dileas48

    @Todd they are identical  and they are the as good as they say , I have one foe every watch i have that fits them .

  • gride

    Hi Guys, I just bought the Suunto Clipper thinking it was the best watch compass. To start with, the thing doesn’t even fit Suunto’s own watch bands properly. The two Suunto watches I have are the Vector and Core. Not even fitting your own watch bands – genius, what idiot thought of that idea. 

    Now some will say – oh, but you already have a compass on those watches. True, but what if I just want a quick reading, or my battery is low or out. The compass function will use the battery more heavily. I’ll send it back until you think this product through and come up with a better design.

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