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Suunto X9

With the punch of a button on my SUUNTO X9 ($699), I can know, down to the degree, minute and second, precisely where I am, any time, day or night.

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SUUNTO X9

My parents, bless them, always knew I was a lost youth, wandering without a sense of direction. They will be pleased to learn that, at last, with the punch of a button on my SUUNTO X9 ($699), I can know, down to the degree, minute and second, precisely where I am, any time, day or night.

The X9 is a complex piece of wrist-top machinery the likes of which the world has never seen. Due to the wonders of micro-circuitry, it’s a digital watch, GPS, compass, altimeter (registers up to 29,500 feet), thermometer, barometer and timer packed into a single, 2.7-ounce water-resistant unit. It’s got a crack memory, too. With the help of a laptop, you can punch in your destination’s coordinates and waypoints.

My brain, however, isn’t as sharp as that which sparks the X9. On my first two outings, I could recall precious little from the X9’s 94-page instructional volume. Back at home, I hit the book again, and after six hours of diligent study (not an exaggeration), was able to navigate the watch’s various menus, calling up coordinates and elevations at my leisure. The benefits to having a GPS on your wrist may not seem critical just yet, but as more guidebooks begin listing GPS coordinates for stealthy crags, hidden boulders and complex mountain massifs, units such as the X9 will become new-age sextants for us modern-day vagabonds. SUUNTO: suunto.com.