Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Review

By: Michael Penate

I think at some point in every watch collector’s lifecycle, the idea of an isolated, accurate, and self-sustaining timepiece becomes remarkably fascinating. The hunger for accuracy can come from anywhere, but it can often stem from our frustrations with mechanical pieces that have let us down. As TBWS has evolved, the concept of a “grab and go” quartz option has been something several readers and listeners have pursued ferociously—and the Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver* seems to be an option that consistently comes out on top. For me, this is a watch that holds a special place in my heart, after Kaz gave it to me as a gift a few years ago. Now after serving me for quite some time, I think it’s a great idea to finally get my thoughts down on the site.

The first time I laid eyes on the Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver was during my time perusing Terry’s ToxiNATOs Instagram feed, and seeing it with an attractive bunch of straps. Something about the compact case styling, care-free Eco-Drive movement, and low price just really spoke to me. But, naturally, I took way too long to make a decision. That’s when my best bud Kaz stepped in and gave it to me during the great TBWS Christmas gift battle of 2016. I was floored from day one and now, I get to scream my praises from the top of the world.


Case

It’s a good idea to start with what was perhaps most surprising after getting this one on the wrist—case proportions. The watch almost feels lugless and the compact fit really translates well on the stock strap or a NATO. On paper, we have a 43mm case diameter, 48mm lug-to-lug distance, and a thickness of just 11.5mm. Combine that with the super lightweight nature of the Eco-Drive movement, and you have a watch that almost feels like a titanium diver… especially on a nylon strap. Water resistance is 200m and I had no qualms about taking this one swimming in the Hood Canal off the beautiful shores of Seabeck, WA.

The aluminum bezel incorporates an accurate 60-click mechanism that I find preferable to 120-click systems. It really does hit every mark but the teeth configuration is slightly awkward and not as grippy as I would have hoped. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much to turn it. At 4 o’clock, the crown sits pretty close to the rest of the steel case and is also easy to operate. The bezel insert itself is fully graduated and serves as a good match with the aforementioned click mechanism.

Dial

Everything about the Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster’s dial fits flawlessly with the idea of dive watch legibility. Information is clearly marked, the hands cause zero confusion, and the chrome markers are spot-on. Even the 4 o’ clock date window—which eats slightly into the hour marker—is pleasantly integrated. I’m also very impressed with the overall size of the handset, especially when switching between this watch and something like my Doxa, which features really unconventional hand sizes.

While I didn’t get any shots here, the lume is Citizen’s aqua tone BGW9 and I absolutely love it. Low light visibility is no issue and even seconds hand is slightly lumed. All these features make for a dial that’s just fun to interact with. Above all, the blue tone is also a sight to behold and can often transition to a sort of deep purple depending on the light. I’ve also had zero issues with the AR-coated mineral crystal. No chips or scratches… nothing.

Strap

Like many of Citizen’s dive watches, the Promaster Diver comes with a polyurethane strap featuring no-decompression limits. It’s comfortable but I quickly removed it and stored it for preservation. Besides, I always found those a bit difficult to manipulate and shape for a comfortable fit. Since then, I’ve only worn the watch on a standard BluShark NATO strap and I think it’s probably the best option. I have, however, seen a stainless steel bracelet offered by Citizen that looks compelling. But, I almost think that it would take away from the attractive, lightweight nature of the watch overall. Still, with a 20mm lug width, it’s going to be incredibly easy to find something that works for you. Come to think of it, sailcloth might be a neat alternative to the stock strap.

Movement

Aside from the price, I’d argue that the biggest selling point here is Citizen’s Eco-Drive movement tech. Specifically, it’s the Citizen 3-hand E168 with 6 months of power reserve on a full charge. According to Citizen, this movement is also capable of a +/- 15 seconds per month accuracy range with a 32,768Hz quartz oscillator frequency. Additionally, the movement will also revert to a low charge two-second interval mode if the battery is running low. This only happened to me once and placing the watch on a window sill for a few hours was really all it took to get it back to a full charge.

Final Thoughts

Even with options from brands like Doxa, CWC, and Omega spanning my collection, I’m still very proud of owning the Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver. It’s another one of those “Honda Civics” of the watch world and a piece I reach for regularly. It has seen a ton of hikes, lake outings, jogging, and casual days at the office. Really, I find it hard to believe that anyone could be on the fence about this one—especially now that prices are dipping so low.

Sure, the bezel could be a little less slippery, but that really is my only issue with the watch. One strike, that’s it. That almost never happens in a watch review. To learn more about the Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver, please visit the official Citizen Watches site.

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8 thoughts on “Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Diver Review”

    • At first It seemed people were getting 10 years out of the power cell. What was happening, tho, was that as the watch got older more owners were leaving in in the drawer or jewelry box and not keeping it charged. Lacking an intimate knowledge that all they needed to do was recharge it in sunlight, they were taking them in for service to replace the cell. As time has gone one fans now know this and those Eco Drives on auction sites which are sold as “needs battery” are edging up in price – because the new owner understands what to do.

      Citizen is now estimating power cell life up to 40 years – many ten year old watches are trading hands and the ones I have purchased get two to four hours in sunlight to return to normal. Older power cells are said to lose some reserve, ten year old watches seem to have only 5 months reserve. Compared to an Orange Monster – I have a 1Gen ten years old – that’s about 4 months and 28 days more. If you rotate a lot of automatics you already understand that they will need resetting every time. Not so an Eco Drive, or, even a simpler battery operated quartz, some of which now are equipped with 10 year batteries (Casio.)

      Keep in mind the high beat of a quartz and Citizen’s care in regulating them prior to shipment means the three I own keep under 30 seconds fast a year. That is the second reason I no longer wear an auto, the weekly reset to correct running at least a minute fast means at least 50 crown operations a year. The Eco Drive gets a date correction and DST – about 8. There is much less wear and tear on threads and stem. If I were to rotate 4 watches with one being an automatic the reset would then number over 90 a year as the watch would likely rarely get fully wound and would likely require time and date set every four days.

      I would much rather swap straps and bands on a watch than constantly reset the time – its known as one of the things that eventually causes serous damage and lack of use.

      Reply
  1. What width is your NATO strap for this watch 22,23,24mm? Really great looking watch with your NATO strap!
    THanks for the review

    Reply
  2. I have the same watch. The original bracelet strap unfortunately is very rough on the wrist. Tbh it rubs this sore. As for the NATO, I had them when they first come out, as I was actually serving in NATO with the Brits. Good strong comfortable strap. Maybe not posh enough for some. I like things that work and not glitter.

    Reply
  3. I’ve worn mine everyday for four years. Swam in the Atlantic and the Pacific with it. Now it’s a trusted friend. What a fantastic time piece.

    Reply
  4. I just got one of these last month. I’ve worn it for all sorts of adventures–mountain biking, hiking, surfing, swimming, and lawn mowing. It’s been perfect.

    Reply
  5. Could you tell me what the name is of the NATO strap? It Just looks perfect and u am thinking of purchasing the watch.

    Reply

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