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Citizen Watches - The 5 Best Models From Promaster Line

Posted on December 08 2021

Citizen Promaster Watches

Ever find yourself being distracted by minor issues when you're watch shopping?

I've often been sidetracked by exciting brand stories or cutting-edge innovation. Sometimes it's simply the beauty of a watch that draws me in.

You'll have been there too.

You'll have compared watches and made your choice based on the attractiveness of an automatic movement. Or you'll have decided that a helium release valve is a must-have, despite never having dived professionally.

That's fine. I hold my hands up. I do this.

But sometimes we have to step back and remind ourselves that a watch is a tool for telling the time. And to be a dependable tool it needs to be able to take what life throws at it.

Not all manufacturers make this type of watch.

Citizen does. They have a range of watches specifically designed to be rugged and reliable.

Let's take a look.

What is a Citizen Promaster Watch?


Citizen describes the Promaster line as highly functional sports watches.

In practice, that means a collection of watches that are durable and versatile. The Promaster line is roughly divided into Air, Land and Sea models. Stylistically that means military-style models, aviation designs and dive watches.

Between them, they cover what you'll need on your wrist while doing physical activities. The collection is comprehensive - ranging from complex pilot watches to simple models for the outdoors.

The specs are impressive and the designs can be very appealing. Importantly, they're affordable and sustainable.

They feature different movements depending on the model. Most often they use Citizen's own Eco-Drive technology.

What are Citizen Eco-Drive Movements?


The concept of Eco-Drive watches is straightforward.

These watch movements are designed to convert both natural and artificial light into energy to power the watch. Launched in the 1970s, this technology allows Citizen to produce watches that never need a battery change.

This environmentally friendly technology has proven popular. It has also won the brand environmental protection awards.

Understandably, Eco-drive models now dominate Citizen’s product range. The Promaster line is no exception.

Citizen's Mechanical Miyota Movements


But it's not all about Eco-Drive.

By owning Miyota, Citizen has a hand in one of the biggest movement production factories in the world. One of their quartz movements has sold 1.7 billion units.

Normally, my preference is for mechanical movements. Miyota makes the 9000 and 8200 series of automatic movements. They’re used in a Citizen’s own small mechanical collection and by a myriad of other brands. They're also used in some of the Promaster collection.

Citizen is a pioneer when it comes to watch movement development. They're also a large producer of mechanical movements.

Now is a good time to remind you of Citizen's history to give their modern watches a little context.

The History of Citizen Watches


Citizen is a Japanese company. But it didn't begin there.

The brand was originally created in Switzerland in 1930. However, the aim of Citizen from its start was to sell watches to the Japanese market.

After an initial transfer of technology from Switzerland, the company took over existing watchmaking facilities in Japan.

The company has since been at the forefront of technological advancement in watchmaking. Specifically, the transition from mechanical to battery-powered quartz movements.

That's important if reliability is crucial to you.

Citizen has created a number of innovative watches, with the Eco-Drive collection now being central to their brand.

The Best Citizen Promaster Watches


Some of Citizen's Promaster watches are very complicated. They have some complex aviation models with numerous functions. I can understand the appeal, but they're not for me.

Despite saying that watches can be seen as tools for simply telling the time, I still lust after attractive watches. So part of the criteria I've used when compiling this list has been the aesthetics of the watches.

But don't let that fool you into thinking I've chosen appearance over functionality. The five watches below are great examples of tough, everyday watches. Watches that won't let you down when you most need them.

Citizen Tough Watch

Sometimes simplicity is beautiful and with the Citizen Tough this is reinforced with a clarity of purpose. It's a straightforward three-hand watch that was designed to be durable.

There's nothing flash, innovative or unique. This is just a practical timepiece that does the basics well. It's mid-sized, rugged and is powered by light.

It's ideal for camping, running and as an everyday beater.

This would be my first choice from the Promaster line - despite it not being the most representative of the collection.

So what does a watch need to be tough?

Well, it has an EcoDrive movement. This is less likely to get accidentally damaged and without the need for a battery change, maintenance is kept to a minimum.

As you'd expect, the Citizen Tough has good water resistance. It's rated at 200M. The crown screws down and is protected by chunky crown guards.

Stylistically, there's a military vibe. It's spartan, with a simple black dial and neat markers. The feeling is of a tool rather than a piece of jewellery.

This is a model for the outdoors. If your watch is going to get wet and bumped around, this could be a good match for you.

Citizen Promaster Tough BN0211-50E

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Eco-Drive movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance


Citizen Tsuno Bullhead Watch

The Citizen Tsuno Chrono is a very different watch. It's ornate and striking. It's also vintage-inspired and references the golden age of motorsports.

This design - with the chronograph pushers on the top of the watch - is known as a Bullhead style. It's an unusual style that makes the watch function more like a stopwatch than a wristwatch. Very practical if you actually use a chronograph's functions.

The Tsuno Racer is Citizen’s modern take on the Bullhead. The name is a reference to motorsports - something I go into more detail here.

It's a sporty watch. Unlike the Tough, this model is meant to catch the eye. And it certainly does that. Particularly this attractive blue variation.

But it is a busy watch. There's a lot going on. There are four sub-dials, two crowns and the bullhead pushers. Although I'm not normally a big fan of busy layouts, this works. And it works because this is how Bullhead motorsports watches looked in the 1970s.

It's quite large too. The case is 45mm wide. With the pushers, it will wear a little larger.

But this unconventional watch was created to attract attention. You don't buy a watch like this to slip it neatly under a shirt cuff. It's a sports watch, built to function as a stopwatch. It's there to be seen and used.

Bullheads are a niche watch design. If you want a unique looking Citizen Promaster, this is the most flamboyant model.

Citizen Tsuno Racer AV0070-57L

  • 45mm Diameter
  • 15.5mm Thick
  • Stainless Steel
  • Eco-Drive movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 200M Water Resistance


    Citizen Promaster Diver Watch

    This model is from the Promaster Sea collection. It's a tough dive watch with a sporty aesthetic. Like the Tsuno, this isn't a watch to be tucked away at work.

    The design is bold, particularly in this green Hulk variation.

    It's a great example of where Citizen's Eco-Drive technology enhances a watches functionality. And that's the word that best sums up this model. It's functional. How so?

    Let's take a look at the details.

    The Eco-Drive light-powered movement is reliable and hands-off. No battery changes and no mechanical components to protect. The case is durable and has a bezel with deeply knurled edges to make turning it simple - even with gloves.

    And the rest of the design reinforces this functionality. The lume is good and it's applied to large bold hands that aid legibility. The crown is repositioned to 4 o'clock, an ergonomic consideration often used by Seiko.

    And now is a good time to mention Seiko. This model from Citizen does remind me of Seiko's iconic Tuna dive watch. Indeed, it makes a great alternative.

    Yes, this green watch is bold. But like the green Rolex Submariner, the colouring is great. And with 200M of water resistance, this is a legitimate diver.

    Citizen Promaster Diver BN0158-85X

    • 44mm Diameter
    • 11.5mm Thick
    • 20mm Lug Width
    • Stainless Steel
    • Eco-Drive movement
    • Mineral Crystal
    • 200M Water Resistance


    Citizen Promaster Land Watch

    Like the Citizen Tough, this model from the Promaster Land collection has a field watch style. It's another militaristic looking piece with a chunky design and a GMT function.

    This watch can tell you the time in two timezones, handy if you're a frequent traveller.

    With that function in mind, this watch has a fourth hand and a substantial bezel that features the worlds major cities.

    So this is another practical watch with real-world applications.

    But again, it's a handsome piece. I particularly like the silver bezel and large, textured crown. They keep the design quite straightforward and are faithful to the collections tool watch ethos. The crown is also signed which is a nice touch.

    At 43mm, this isn't a dainty watch. But as you'll have gathered, that's not what Promaster watches are about. They're tools and as such the function dictates the style. In this case - where the watch has a lot going on - the colours and style are kept simple.

    I like that. Despite a lot to take in, the design doesn't overwhelm or confuse.

    At its core, this is a field watch. With the addition of a GMT function.

    Citizen Promaster Land BJ7100-82E

    • 42mm Diameter
    • 13.3mm Thick
    • 22mm Lug Width
    • Stainless Steel
    • Eco-Drive movement
    • Mineral Crystal


    Citizen Promaster Nighthawk BX1010-53E

    The final watch that I'd like to present is a stunning watch from the Promaster Air collection.

    At first glance, it's obvious that this is an aviation piece. Less obvious is the perpetual date feature. It's also a World Timer, so there's a lot going on here.

    Despite that, the Nighthawk is still reminiscent of a German Flieger. It has the same simple colouring, large case and bold numerals. The inner 24hr numbers and large hands reinforce the look.

    It works for me.

    The 44mm case is at the top end of what I find comfortable, but it's certainly not a deal breaker. On an aviation model, it's a bonus - legibility is paramount.

    Like the other featured watches, the movement is a solar-powered Eco-Drive Caliber. And there is 200M of water resistance, a nice bonus on a pilot watch.

    It's a good place to close out the list. A tasteful tool watch with some surprising features. Arguably, this is the Promaster collection in a nutshell.

    Citizen Promaster Nighthawk BX1010-53E

    • 44mm Diameter
    • 13mm Thick
    • Stainless Steel
    • Eco-Drive movement
    • Mineral Crystal
    • 200M Water Resistance


    Conclusion


    We love watches for many reasons, often unrelated to their primary function - telling the time.

    But that is what a watch is for.

    If you distil a watch down to its basics - accurate timekeeping and reliability - then the available options shrink. Even more so if you want a movement that never needs a battery change.

    One of the best options for a tough, reliable eco-friendly watch is offered by Citizen. Their Promaster line.

    Many models are complex and ornate - but all are highly functional.

    I've highlighted my five favourites. I'll be honest, I've concentrated more on their militaristic and tool watches. But I've included the wonderful Tsuno Bullhead model to show the collection at its most flamboyant.

    I hope, at the very least, to have whetted your appetite for a Citizen Promaster watch.

    As ever, pop your own thoughts in a comment below.

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