When you think of Citizen watches, what likely comes to mind are inexpensive quartz watches of little interest to the serious collector. Even the brand name “Citizen” implies wristwatches for the masses, rather than anything exclusive or luxurious. And while Citizen do make a dizzying array of affordably priced watches, much like Seiko, they also produce some really unique and horologically noteworthy watches that punch well above their weight price-wise. Here are five cool Citizens that will look great and even earn a nod from watch-snobs like me.
Promaster Automatic Diver NY0040-09E
While the Seiko SKX series are some of the most popular affordable divers available, anyone in the market for an automatic beater watch should consider the very similarly-styled Promaster NY0040-09E as well. Dubbed the “SKX killer” by the WIS community, this Citizen is cheaper than the SKX009 we covered recently and the Caliber 8203 within supports hand-winding, which the 7S26 within the Seiko SKX does not. This makes the Promaster the better choice to wear in rotation with other watches, as it can be quickly wound and set even if its been allowed to run down. With a 42mm case and 48mm lug-to-lug span this watch wears a little larger than the SKX though, so keep that in mind if your wrists are on the slender side.
Promaster Tough BN0211-09X
There are two things which really define Citizen as a watchmaker; “Eco-Drive” solar technology, and their surface-hardened “Duratect” cases. The combination of effectively unlimited power via a solar cell hidden underneath the dial and a robust scratch-resistant case make for a great daily beater watch that requires no upkeep or servicing.
The Promaster Tough combines both of these uniquely Citizen traits as well as a scratch proof sapphire crystal, with 200M of water resistance and a Cordura® ballistic nylon strap, which is a highly abrasion-resistant material that should stand up to years of wear. Green is very much in vogue in the watch world at present, and this Citizen offers a very summery and eye-catching green option that will take a beating and keep on ticking.
Promaster Skyhawk A-T JY8108-53E
At the opposite end of the spectrum from the previous two watches is the Skyhawk A-T, which eschews all forms of classicism or minimalism in favour of functionality. For the asking price of $429 USD on the used market you get access to the following: atomic timekeeping (via GPS sync), world time in 43 timezones, 1/100th of a second chronograph, perpetual calendar, 2 alarm functions (daily and countdown), backlit digital displays and a power reserve indicator, as well as a pilot’s rotating slide rule bezel. Using Eco-Drive technology and a Duratect-hardened “Super Titanium” case, the Skyhawk is every bit as tough as the self-proclaimed Promaster Tough, but in a wrist-computer style that will appeal to those that want G-Shock levels of functionality in a more analogue package.
Eco-Drive One AR5000-50E
A classic dress watch should be thin and able to easily slip underneath a dress cuff, and as uncomplicated as possible; a formal dress watch often eschews the second hand altogether, as why do you need to know the time down to the second at a black tie event? The Eco-Drive One offers a unique take on the dress watch formula as the thinnest light-powered watch ever made, with a girth of only 3mm and a Goldilocks-zone 39mm dial.
While mechanical watches can achieve even thinner tolerances than this, like the eye-wateringly expensive Piaget Ultimate Concept, these watches tend to be rather fragile as a result. The Eco-Drive One is an ultra-thin that’s designed to be worn, with a case made of hardened Super Titanium and a bezel made of a unique material called Cermet, a binderless cemented carbide that is both hard and corrosion-resistant.
The Chronomaster is a watch that’s long been on my personal wish-list, and merits a whole article all to itself. In short, this watch is among the very pinnacle of quartz watches and a cult favourite amongst that most niche of watch demographics; the high-accuracy quartz collector. While a bog-standard Walmart quartz watch is already a pretty good timekeeper with typical tolerances around the +/- 15 seconds per month mark, the Chronomaster uses temperature compensation technology to achieve a warranted accuracy of +/- 5 seconds per year.
The date aperture is a perpetual calendar that always displays the correct date irrespective of month or leap year. The dial is made of a hand-crafted ultra-thin paper called Tosa Washi, and each dial is unique as a result. And with 100M of water resistance and a hardened Super Titanium case, this is a watch that can easily serve as a daily wearer for a lifetime without an iota of maintenance.