Product names are a big deal, although not all brands agree on conventions of course. Even in watchmaking, where the character of a watch can be an important hallmark, brands sometimes trade on nothing more than a jumble of numbers. Car brands are notorious for this, with 1-Series competing for attention with SLKs and so on and so forth. These are not without merit because you can no doubt tell what brands we are referring to in the previous example. In fact, more than one watch brand famously does this, and it has its own charms, arguably. So, when a watch collection does have a name, that name had better be a good one. On the occasion of its 30th birthday, we are coming to grips with the brilliantly named Citizen Promaster, and getting a feel for its unique attributes.
What does it take for a watch to be considered ‘professional’ anyway? All watches tell the time, with varying degrees of accuracy, and sports watches are generally built a little tougher than your typical dress watch. Certainly, high complications are too skittish and twitchy to be considered ‘professional’ so you can safely exclude those. The closest analogy here would be to Formula 1 cars, which are certainly beautifully engineered machines but not built to fight traffic or rough roads. In watchmaking terms though, these might qualify as ‘Masters’ and some watchmaking brands actually do name their watches accordingly. The idea here is that these watches have mastered some aspect of watchmaking. So, what’s the Citizen Promaster’s game then? Our humble suggestion is that this collection represents what Citizen thinks represents a level of mastery in the professional category.
The brand has a unique proposition in its Eco-Drive technology, as well as its Super Titanium and Duratect treatments – all of which bolster the reliability and toughness of its watches. Super Titanium is reportedly five times harder than steel, after the Duratect treatment, and 40% lighter. It is worth remembering that Citizen was the first watch firm to deploy titanium as a case material in 1970.
The key for collectors is that none of these elements are unique to any particular Citizen collection – you could easily pick up an Eco-Drive watch in Super Titanium in any other Citizen collection. Indeed, in my story on the 30th anniversary watches last issue (#53), I cited this collection as representative of Citizen’s ability to offer something for everyone. This approach might alienate some collectors, but it has proved immensely popular. Still, the Promaster has many unique qualities – so many that we had to do this extended story to try to cover it all. Collectors may want to pay special attention to the NY009 model this year, if very specific aesthetic codes are what one is after.
To begin with, actually we are not trying to cover it all here. This story gets into the three anniversary models and one more: Eco-Drive Satellite Wave GPS Promaster 30th Anniversary, Eco-Drive Altichron Promaster 30th Anniversary, Eco-Drive Aqualand 200m Promaster 30th Anniversary, and the NY009 SEA Limited Edition (pictured right). You might think that is a lot of watches for one story, but the advantage Citizen has is that the watches speak for themselves. The sidebars spell out important bits about the individual watches.
Objectively then, you might wonder how the watches stack up. The short answer is very well, especially when you consider the value proposition, as reported by Hodinkee, to cite just one example. An important reason for this is that you are not paying for the grand history of noted explorers. As a wholly contemporary collection, it isn’t surprising that the Promaster collection has been consistent and forward-looking. Should you get one? Hells to the yeah!
Save The Beyond
Citizen is running a campaign called “Save the Beyond” (#SavetheBEYOND) along with the History Channel to celebrate the work of sustainability heroes. It profiles adventurers, explorers and eco-warriors, following them to the frontlines of climate change. For its part, Citizen thinks that learning about the activities of these professionals is “one small step towards a better future.” The company says it wants the example of these professionals, including the likes of Eric Larsen and Nathan Cook, to serve as a call-to-action for the rest of us. Alongside this, Citizen was running a campaign where one could win a trip to the Antarctic with polar adventurer Larsen. It is currently running a campaign encouraging the world to share eco-stories, with one person every month selected to win a series production Promaster Alticron. This campaign runs till December this year.
Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave GPS Promaster 30th Anniversary
This 47mm behemoth is super light, thanks to the Super Titanium case and bracelet. It exhibits a high degree of hardness as a result of its Duratect MRK and Duratect DLC treatments. As a pilot’s watch, it is distinguished by a bezel bearing aviation markings such as ground-air visual signal codes. Adding to the aviation feel is the cockpit-inspired dial, making it look very much like Citizen equipped a cockpit instrument with a bracelet. Its Eco-Drive is solar-powered, and regulated by GPS signals, making short work of tracking time in 39 cities, as well enabling easy switching from local time to home time, and back again. The functions are completed by a chronograph, tracking elapsed time for up to 24 hours. Limited 1,989 pieces, the caseback is stamped with the 30th anniversary logo.
Citizen Eco-Drive Altrichron Promaster 30th Anniversary
This 46mm Super Titanium watch sports an all-new Duratect MRK Gold treatment, and is water resistant to 200 metres, despite being made for mountaineers, ostensibly. Like the Aqualand model, what makes this watch special is the analogue altimeter, which goes all the way up to 10,000 metres while also going deep – down to -300 metres. It also displays orientation information at a glance. The watch actually uses just three hands and a sub-dial to deliver a lot information. The use of different colours for the hands keeps things easy to read. Like the Satellite Wave GPS watch, this one is limited to 1,989 pieces, with the anniversary logo on the caseback.
Citizen Eco-Drive Aqualand 200m Promaster 30th Anniversary
An ISO-compliant diver’s watch, this 46.1mm steel model is water-resistant to 200 metres. What distinguishes the Promaster Aqualand is the analogue depth gauge, which displays depths down to 70 metres – a depth that far exceeds what recreational divers will ever need. It is indeed a great comfort when one’s tools are able to perform at a far higher level than one’s own skill level. While not quite at the level of the Promaster Professional Diver, the Aqualand does pack quite the functional punch. This includes a rapid ascent alarm, power reserve indicator, a sensor to indicate any leaks, and the usual unidirectional bezel. Limited to 6,000 pieces, the caseback is also stamped with the 30th anniversary logo.
Citizen NY009 S.E.A. Limited Edition
Of course, this story would be incomplete without the inclusion of this new limited edition – the only automatic of the anniversary range. An update of the NY008, which was equipped with a rubber strap, this version has a matching steel bracelet (the 42mm case remains in stainless steel). For Southeast Asia, the limited edition is the NY0099-81X, distinguished by its green dial and matching green bezel. The automatic calibre 8203 in service here provides 40 hours of power reserve. Another particularity setting this model apart is the use of black numerals and characters against a white background in the day-date window. If these are not details to draw in the prospective collector, we don’t know what are! This edition is also limited to 1,989 pieces. There are other limited editions of this model for various regions.