New Citizen Promaster Dive Watches Give Nod To The Orca

If, like me, you’re as old as Methuselah, you’ll remember back in the ‘80s when Citizen launched outside Japan with a range of watches so broad and so cool that one even told the temperature and had more functions than the space shuttle. OK, so today that’s pretty meh, but back in the mid 1980s it was as remarkable as being able to buy a Rolex without a waiting list. 

Citizen, along with Seiko, were the first people to make a proper, serious, nailed-on diving watch you could actually afford. You knew they were serious because, next to the watches in the jeweler’s window was a mini bright yellow scuba tank. Over the years they kept making no-messing diving watches and then, in 2006, Citizen launched the Orca. 

Where the earlier watches played it very straight indeed, the Orca was a little more relaxed.  Sure, it did all the diverly stuff just as well as the earlier models but it did them with a bit of a smile. And the watch was a massive hit for Citizen.


There was a lot to like about the original Orca. And now they’ve launched three more – the snappily-monikered BN0230-04E, BN0231-01L and BN0235-01E. Cutting to chase, the BN0230-04E has a black face and bezel, the BN0231-01L swaps those for blue and the BN0235-01E goes for a PVD case with a black dial and bezel. 

There’s no need to send off any DNA from any of the pod of new watches for testing; their parentage is pretty clear with all the visual cues; orca markings, the wave on the bezel, the mahoosive hour and minute hands. There are a few differences though. Rather than the titanium of the original watch this one uses stainless steel for case and bezel. That’s picked up on the dial markings where the original proclaimed ‘Titanium’ the new watch prints ‘ECO-DRIVE’. Where the old watch was 48mm, the new one comes in at 2mm smaller. There are some other design tweaks too, including the engraved Orca on the caseback and a new font for the bezel.   

The important things remain the same. You’ll struggle, even as a pro, to out-dive these watches with their 200m rating and screw-down crowns. They’re ISO compliant too. Mind you, conventional watches are all but redundant as primary dive tools nowadays. But the features that made them so useful under water make them just as useful in everyday life. Why bother taking your watch off unless you want to? It’ll take plenty of knocks and come up smiling. And you can always read a diver with its clear, bright dial and hands.

Those hands need a mention all of their own. The astronauts orbiting on the ISS should be able to pick out the time on your wrist without too much bother. The hands are HUGE. At least, the hour and the minute hand are. The second hand is only saved from terminal skinniness by its lollipop lumed end. Those astronauts won’t have a lot of trouble at night either. Citizen have lumed the hands with green and the dial markers in blue. The bezel pip matches the hands.  And the whole lot glows brighter than a Three Mile Island duck. 

The bezel is designed so it’s easy to turn in wet diving gloves, which makes it a cinch to use as an elapsed time timer when your hands are dry and you want to know how long you’ve been waiting for the meeting to end.

Timekeeping is taken care of by the Ford Pinto of watch movements, the Eco-Drive E168. It’s almost harder to find an Eco Citizen that doesn’t use it. Being Eco-Drive means there’s no need for battery changes. Just leave your watch in the light and you’ll get half a year of charge to play with. Even if you spend most of your life down a hole in the ground you should have enough light when you emerge to keep the battery charged.

The E168 is solid, reliable, laughs at shocks, magnetism and positional error and runs for years without bother. And if the capacitor does give out, just send it back to those nice people at Citizen and they’ll change it for a new one (you do have to pay, mind). 

The black polyurethane strap is as water-resistant as the watch and just about as robust.  There’s a neat touch in the way the strap end flares to keep it secure and stop it creeping out through the keeper should you mis-fasten it or it comes unbuckled.

If you fancy, you can even get the BN0235-01E as part of a special-edition box set. The watch has a black-plated case, a black bezel, a matching black dial and a black PU rubber strap but it also comes in a signature, neon yellow Citizen presentation box with a matching LED dive light. Even the light is waterproof to 60m and shock-resistant. You’ll be waking up squirrels from hibernation too with 400 lumens of brightness. It even comes with a matching wrist strap. 

If you’re a Citizen disciple, this will probably already be on your wish list. If you’re simply looking for a bombproof, easy to use diver to wear every day, $475 isn’t too stiff a price. We think these are going to be very popular indeed and yes, you get a scuba tank case with each one too. Citzen.

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Mark developed a passion for watches at a young age. At 9, he was gifted an Omega Time Computer manual from a local watch maker and he finagled Rolex brochures from a local dealer. Today, residing in the Oxfordshire village of Bampton, Mark brings his technical expertise and robust watch knowledge to worn&wound.
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