Think about a dive watch. Not one of the run-of-the-mill waterproof watches with a bezel slapped on, looking vaguely like a Submariner, of which there are thousands; but a true, honest to goodness watch you can imagine on someone’s wrist on the back of a dive boat, silently drinking water and meditating on the next dive. There are probably only a few names that fit that mold. Seiko? Certainly. Rolex? Maybe. But near the top of that list for me would be Citizen. We are going to take Citizen’s newest Promaster-series watch on a couple of dives to make sure it lives up to its pedigree.
Citizen is no stranger to waterproof watches, having been the first Japanese company to release one, all the way back in 1959, with the Parawater. They started releasing serious scuba diving watches in the early 1980s, really hitting their stride with the Aqualand line, the world’s first wristwatch with a digital depth gauge.
The new Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m continues that long history of dive watches with a new design that manages to reference early 1980s watches like the iconic 1982 Citizen Professional Diver 1300m, and also be fresh and almost futuristic looking, all at once. You can read a full, in-depth introduction of the watch here, but here are the basics about the Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m NB6004.
The case is a chunky, 46mm diameter, 15mm thick slab of tool watch, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it must weigh a metric tonne. Thankfully, in a nod back to those early 1980s divers we mentioned before, this big case is done in Citizen’s proprietary Super Titanium and also uses their proprietary surface-hardening technology, Duratect, making the watch incredibly light for its size. It has a brutalist-looking design, with dramatic angles and an almost trapezoidal shape. The finishing is such that those hard angles all get dulled into smooth cohesion, so no worry about any sharp or uncomfortable edges here.
The bezel has a very interesting and unique look, covered in tiny pyramid-shaped studs, with raised numerals every ten minutes. It’s probably not the easiest bezel in the world to read, but it’s certainly one of the most striking to look at. There are clear minute marks on the inner bezel, so tracking elapsed time is no problem. The dial below the domed sapphire crystal has a graduated finish, with nearly black around the edges, transitioning to grey by the time you reach the centre and is covered in the same pyramid pattern as the bezel, with a slightly less aggressive finish. The result is a dynamic appearance that changes a bit with any adjustment in viewing angle. Not so much that it’s distracting but just enough to be fun.
In a big change here from the usual Promaster offerings, this watch features the new Citizen Cal. 9051 Mechanical movement. This is a hacking, 4Hz movement, with a 42-hour power reserve and a claimed accuracy of -10/+20 sec/day. Citizen is also touting the anti-magnetic properties of this movement. From the press release: “This new model is capable of maintaining performance even when placed 1 centimetre from a device emitting a magnetic field of 16,000 A/ｍ. The watch is also resistant to magnetic fields from everyday devices, including smartphones, and it can even be used aboard ships with magnetic compasses.” So whether you are sitting on a dive boat or working in a magnetic environment, you should be good. Now enough of the tech stuff, let’s go diving.
Citizen watches have always felt more like tools than luxury timepieces to me. Maybe it’s the fact that they still sell Citizen watches in some dive shops, shops where you will never see a Rolex or a Doxa, or even a Seiko these days. Or maybe it is the fact that 9 times out of 10, if you see a non-watch enthusiast wearing a watch while diving, it will be a Citizen. I once had an older diver come ask what was going on while I was weirdly crouched over taking photos of a watch. Once he realized what I was doing he told me a long story about how his beloved Citizen watch had finally died after decades of faithful service and he wasn’t sure how to get a replacement. I reassured him that Citizen is still out there and still making bulletproof dive watches.
That purpose-built tool feeling is still alive and well in the new Promaster Mechanical Diver NB6004. Its reassuring bulk straps on nicely over a wetsuit with the included rubber strap. Citizen also kindly includes a rubber strap extension piece, in case you need to get into some more serious, colder diving and don a dry suit. The dull, metal grey of the titanium blends right into the mess of knobs and hoses and nozzles that make up a modern diving kit. The more titanium watches I get to take diving, the more I am becoming convinced that it is the perfect material for a dive watch. Tools that divers need to operate by hand are usually necessarily large, to allow for easy manipulation while gloved, or visually impaired, or both. If you have ever seen a modern dive computer or wrist compass you will know what I mean. They can look like a shoebox or a hockey puck on the wrist, respectively. Titanium allows the dive watch to fit right in with that gear, being big enough to be used as needed, without adding the weight that stainless steel would require.
In The Water
This is where this Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m NB6004 performs exactly like you would want something with the words “pro” and “master” and “diver” in the name to perform. In this modern-day of dive computers, wristwatches have been relegated to backup timer duties; your last documentor of how long you have been underwater in the rare case of a failure of modern technology, and the Citizen is up to the task. The textured bezel is very easy to grip and turn to line up the 12 o’clock pip with the minute hand to start timing the dive, right before descent.
Once submerged, things get a little colder, a little darker, and sometimes just a little more stressful. The comfort supplied by redundant safety equipment cannot be overstated. Backup breathing apparatus, backup air tank and a backup timekeeper. The Citizen performs the latter duty like the seasoned pro that it is. It’s there when you need it, a quick glance away, otherwise, it melts into the background, just another piece of gear. I had slightly worried about the legibility of the patterned bezel at depth, but that was quickly put to rest. Somehow it becomes much more legible and less busy looking underwater. I don’t know if this is some magic of material science from the Citizen labs or dumb luck, or a little of both, but it works and that’s all that really matters. The same goes for the dial: the large, lumed, semi-circle indices and the large, lumed minute hand outlined in orange make a quick check of elapsed time a breeze.
The wrist presence and toolish feel of this watch make it feel like some kind of submarine control unit. It feels like a twist of the bezel should be filling ballast tanks and sounding a klaxon. Maybe that functionality is coming in a later model.
This new Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m NB6004 continues the excellent diving heritage that Citizen has spent decades building, while adding a high-performance mechanical movement to the package for us watch nerds. If I could put in one request to Citizen HQ it would be to add a depth gauge to this watch. It would be in line with previous releases and take the tool watch vibe up to 11. Until then, this is an excellent continuation of a strong line from Citizen, and one that I am excited to see where they take next.
Availability & Price
The Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m is now available from retailers in two versions – NB6004-08E on black polyurethane strap and NB6004-83E on a solid titanium bracelet. It is priced at EUR 695 on strap and EUR 795 on bracelet.
For more details, please visit Citizen’s website.