Durability And Design Coexist In The Citizen Promaster Tough
With thirty years of history, the Citizen Promaster Tough doesn’t skimp on aesthetics and is possibly the closest thing on the market to a “forever” watch.
This article comes to you from a cabin in the woods of Maine, Sebago Lake region. Maybe it’s the smell of the pine trees, maybe it’s the breeze off the water, or maybe it’s the many summer shandies I’ve imbibed, but the subject of field watches seems especially appropriate. After all, not every watch can handle the abuse of an over-confident yet under-competent water skier.
Three decades of tough technology
2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the Citizen Promaster, and the brand continues its lineage of set it and forget it watches with the Promaster Tough (ref. CA0720 and CA0727).
As the name implies, the Promaster Tough is built to take a beating. It’s shock-resistant, anti-magnetic, and comes with an anti-reflective mineral crystal and a screw-down crown protected by crown guards. It’s water-resistant to 200m or 666ft, should you ever find yourself that deep.
The 44mm case comes in two tones of stainless steel, silver and black, both with Citizen’s proprietary titanium-infused Duratect hardening technology which is approximately 5 times more scratch-resistant than standard stainless steel.
Powered by Citizen’s Caliber B612, the Promaster Tough uses the brand’s signature Eco-Drive technology to harness light - natural or otherwise - in the permanently rechargeable solar cell. The use of minimal parts improves impact-resistance and, with enough light, the battery never needs replacing. The B612 is a movement that embodies self-reliance and rewards you for getting outside and being active.
Sticking with the theme of longevity, the straps are designed to last a lifetime. Buyers have the option of Cordura ballistic fabric in camo or khaki or a bracelet in the same stainless steel-titanium alloy as the CA0720 case. The watch works best on the khaki strap in my opinion, as the Cordura fabric is light, comfortable, and fuels the watch’s rugged ethos without feeling too much like a G.I. Joe.
Function that doesn’t forget form
Earlier versions of the Citizen Promaster are firmly function-only timepieces, and their aesthetic carries a certain earnestness from not trying to impress anyone. The latest iterations carry design details that may not come in handy in a survival situation but do make the watch look better overall. Besides, even a good knife has a beautiful handle.
The SuperLuminova hands and numerals improve visibility in the dark and add a touch of color, same with the red chronograph seconds hand. The diamond texture on the pushers improves grip and is satisfying to run your fingers over. Other features like the applied numerals, applied date window, coin edge bezel, and concentric circles on the dial and subdials are similarly nonessential but are appreciated nonetheless.
A utilitarian watch at this price point naturally draws comparisons to the G-Shock. And Casio’s classic does have some advantages, like fewer moving parts involved with a digital display and some added tools. But the Promaster carries the spirit of an analog watch and cleans up a little nicer should you go out to dinner - an activity often absent in the go-anywhere-do-anything thought process. So if you only want to bring one watch on vacation or are a young collector just starting out, the Promaster Tough is a strong option.
A watch when you need it
For those in the watch community, with its focus on haute horology, it can be easy to underestimate or overlook a watch like this. But the watch just works, and with the right strap, it can look pretty killer. Sure, it’s a quartz movement, but it does draw endless power from the sun - or any light - for decades on end.
Sometimes, you want a watch that makes a statement and sometimes you want a helping hand that doesn’t ask for a “thank you.” This watch does its job, is affordable, pays attention to design, and is there when you need it. So should you find yourself in the great northern woods with little more than a fire and a boat, the Citizen Promaster Tough will prove a worthy companion.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)