Japanese watchmaker Citizen has traveled back to the ’80s to create a distinctive looking modern dive watch equipped with one of the brand’s latest mechanical movements.
In Japanese car culture, a “Kaido racer” (sometimes wrongly described as a “Bōsōzoku car”) is an extremely modified Japanese street racing car, usually featuring a massive chin spoiler, bolted-on fender flares, externally mounted oil coolers, enormous wings, “Takeyari” exhaust pipes, wild paint schemes and so on. You get the picture. These cars are extreme, exaggerated rides, and they are loud in every meaning of the word. Owners of these highly customized cars take inspiration from the silhouette racing cars from the late ‘70s to the mid-‘80s, and it appears that the designers at Citizen Watch Corp. have chosen a similar approach for their latest mechanical diver, simply named “Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m” (Ref. NB6004-08E). In 1982, the brand introduced the quartz-powered Professional Diver 1300m (which briefly was the dive watch with the highest depth rating). Citizen had opted for an “ultra-airtight” titanium case with four visible screws near the lugs to address the needs of saturation divers, and the knurled crown was located at 9 o’clock to further increase safety. According to Citizen, the “Professional 1300m […] with a tough four-sided bezel shroud around its thick and strong titanium case, was made in such a way that a Helium escape valve was not necessary.” When it was first introduced, the watch came at a relatively high price of 180,000 yen and was consequently produced in low numbers (plus it was aimed at the small number of professionals who would need such a watch with exceptional water resistance). Two years later, in 1984, slightly less radical 800-meter versions were added to the collection, further establishing the rather industrial-looking design with titanium case, knurled crown and a tall, rotating bezel with trapezoid elements.
This design formula has now been revived. In March 2021, Citizen announced not only the release of a new mechanical dive watch, but also the release of three Promaster Eco-Drive Diver 200m models (BN0220-16E, BN0227-09L, BN0228-06W). These three watches come with an almost identical lug-less case (sans the screws) “surrounded by a four angled bezel shroud and with large indentations on the rotating bezel.” They’re also made out of lightweight titanium, and retain the same signature sandblast finish. Similarly, the case size of 46.5 mm was also kept, which is the same as the original from 1982, however the case thickness has been reduced slightly to 14.3 mm.
Compared to the Eco-Drive model, Citizen’s new Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m comes with a diameter of 46 mm and thickness of 15.3 mm, and clearly represents a bigger evolutionary step away from the original from 1982, but there are many of the original’s design codes that can be found here as well. Perhaps more importantly, Citizen has decided to equip this watch with one of its new automatic calibers that were introduced in the relaunched Series 8 collection, the Caliber 0950 and the Caliber 9051 (an evolution of the Miyota Caliber 9015). This Promaster is powered by the Caliber 9051 with central seconds hand and date, making it the brand’s first dive watch to have the same enhanced magnetic resistance of up to 16,000 A/m, as seen in the Series 8 collection. To achieve this, the new Caliber 9051 movement uses anti-magnetic materials for the balance spring and surrounding components to boost the overall magnetic resistance of the watch. According to Citizen, “This new model is capable of maintaining performance even when placed 1 centimeter from a device emitting a magnetic field of 16,000 A/m.” In addition to magnetic resistance, the watch also has ISO-compliant water resistance up to 200 meters. The movement offers a power reserve of 42 hours when fully wound, with a guaranteed daily accuracy of -10 to +20 seconds. The hour hand, the prominent orange minute hand, and the applied indexes have a luminous coating to ensure high visibility at night.
The case has a two-piece structure and almost acts as a semi-shroud for the tall bezel. Citizen uses Super Titanium for the case and bezel, and applies its proprietary surface-hardening technology, Duratect, making the watch both scratch resistant and light for its size. The rugged, industrial look of this model is enhanced by a pyramid pattern on the bezel and on the degradé dial with shades that shift depending on the viewing angle. Last but not least, the trapezoid elements around the edge of the bezel not only provide a distinctive look, but also a lot of grip when using the bezel.
From a functional point of view, the legibility of the bezel inlay could have been improved (interestingly, the bezel is much easier to read under water than it is on land). The raised numbers on the inlay neither offer the desired contrast compared to the black background, nor does the pyramid pattern, while being impressive to look at, increase legibility — not to mention the four distracting screws. Then there is the 46-mm case (15.3 mm tall and about 50 mm lug-to-lug). Being water resistant to just 200 meters almost comes as surprise, given the substantial wrist presence of the watch. Last but not least, both the crown and bezel appear to be more exposed than on the blueprint from the ‘80s.
But there is more to the story: Citizen’s hardened titanium usually lives up to its reputation, and almost no diver will ever need more than the 200-meter water resistance offered here. Additionally, most people like their crown at 3 o’clock, and almost every collector has been complaining about dive watches looking all the same, and Citizen not releasing more mechanical dive watches. Then there are the highly legible hands, and one of the most convincing dive straps in the industry (available with an additional expansion).
With the new Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m, Citizen has in fact created a watch that, on paper, ticks all the boxes. It is a continuation of an impressive range of dive watches, it manages to surprise with a distinctive design (while still being easily identifiable as a dive watch), it uses a lightweight case material and offers some clever functional details, like the safety strap and tall bezel. Finish and quality are excellent for a watch in this price range, and the domed sapphire crystal and dégradé dial with pattern create an interesting contrast to the almost futuristic-looking case. And there is, of course, also a new mechanical movement with increased resistance against magnetic fields (and relatively traditional 42-hour power reserve).
In short, not unlike the aforementioned Kaido cars, the Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m is everything but an understated piece of engineering. On one hand, it is one of these watches that are guaranteed to provoke a reaction. On the other hand, Citizen has managed surprisingly well to blend contrasting design elements, the brand’s historical visual cues and modern materials in order to create a contemporary dive watch that is both unexpected and refreshingly different.
Manufacturer: Citizen Holdings Co., Ltd., 6-1-12, Tanashi-cho, Nishi-Tokyo-shi, Tokyo 188-8511, Japan
Reference number: NB6004-08E
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Movement: Citizen Caliber 9051, automatic, 10/+20 seconds per day, approx. 42 hours power reserve (when fully
wound), 28,800 vph, 24 jewels
Case: Super titanium (Duratect), sapphire crystal, DLC on bezel inlay, water-resistant to 200 m
Strap and clasp: Black polyurethane strap with titanium pin buckle
Dimensions: Diameter= 46.0 mm, height = 15.3 mm
Variations: With titanium bracelet (Ref. NB6004-83E); with green dial and DLC case (Ref. NB6006-02X); with blue dial and DLC case (Ref. NB6005-05L)