Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Citizen Arrest: A Comparative Review of the Promaster NY0054

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Citizen Arrest: A Comparative Review of the Promaster NY0054

    When we think of challenges in horology, we often think of the escapades of men like Breguet to overcome inherent shortcomings of mechanisms that we have entrusted time with. But what about the other end of the spectrum? Namely, incorporating the essential bits that we know about watchmaking, but doing so in the most economical manner, so as to cut cost and enable these knowhow to be accessible at the lowest level. Then place all that inside an enclosure that is, again, built in the most economical manner, but this time incorporating what has been learned from years of building diver’s watch. The result is an ISO 6426-compliant 200m diver’s watch.

    Introducing the Citizen Promaster Diver’s 200m NY0054.











    I’ve had my eyes on this diver for a while. The specifications, the looks, and best of all, value had me going back time and time again to have a peek at it, to reconsider it, until I finally overcame the temptation the only way I know how—I just gave into it. :roll:

    This is Citizen’s entry-level diver’s watch with an MSRP of approximately NZ$380, though it is not uncommon to find grey market sellers offering decent discounts on them. In this price range, Seiko would be the only other company to offer ISO-compliant 200m automatic divers in their SKX range. Of these, I have personally owned two SKX007 (aka The Classic) and an SKX779 Black Monster, so naturally these will be the divers I compare the Citizen Promaster against.

    Seiko SKX007K “The Classic”



    Seiko SKX779 “Black Monster”




    So, the question here is whether the adage “You get what you pay for” would still apply, or can you actually get more than what you pay for? This review will attempt to look for the answer, and I invite you to think along. These are my personal opinions and you are, of course, encouraged to find your own. All three have been watches I’ve purchased, so in a sense, they have been at some time my choice.

    Let’s have a closer look at the Promaster.











    SPECIFICATIONS

    Movement: Miyota Automatic Cal. 8203, 21 Jewels, 21’600 A/hr, Day/Date, Auxiliary hand-winding, Power reserve of 45 hours
    Case: Titanium (diameter: 40 mm excl. crown, thickness: 11 mm, lug-width: 20 mm), screw caseback
    Crystal: Hardlex, domed profile
    Dial: Black with applied indices and anodized hands with luminous compound
    Water Resistance: 200 m (ISO-certified)
    Straps: Rubber with printed Non-Decompression Table
    Manufactured: in Japan


    I guess the first thing that drew me to this Promaster is the solid titanium case. Having owned a number of titanium watches, I know how comfortable they feel on the skin. The disadvantage of the titanium divers that I’ve had so far is that, while the material is tough (30% stronger from steel), the surface is susceptible to scratches and desk marks. Having owned this NY0054 and worn everyday (though only a few hours, mostly at home), I am very impressed with its resistance to show any sign of surface abrasion.

    The case measures 40 mm without crown, compared to the 42 mm of both Seiko. The 2 mm difference is not that noticeable, in my opinion, and the case is a good size. Both the Citizen and the Seiko Monster sit lower on the wrist than the SKX007, and are both more comfortable than the ‘007, due to the greater surface area the case has with the skin, resulting in the weight being distributed over a greater area (therefore, less pressure). Lugs are 20 mm in width, which seems better proportioned to a 40 mm case than say, a 45 mm case, as in the Seiko SBDC00x Sumo.
    The quality of construction of the case and case back is definitely very good. There are no sharp edges to be found, and the case line is very consistent throughout. I’ve had no issues with SKX779s that I’ve owned, but have come across quality issues in the SKX007. The stamped inscription on the case back is superior to those of the Seiko SKX and more akin to those on entry-level Seiko Prospex.

    The bezel with 60 graduations, compared to 120 on the SKXs, requires the same amount of effort to start turning as those of Seiko, but once moving, it requires half as much effort (and therefore, quicker) to direct it to the intended position. Though if you timing the elapse interval, the fact that the graduation is less fine, more concentration is required to point it directly at the minute hand. On that note also, the bezel’s minute markers has no distinct feature to mark out the first 20 minutes of the elapse time, making it more difficult to discern the elapse time at a glance. This again requires more concentration in getting a quick read out. The Seiko SKX007’s bezel is the same in this regard, but for some reason, I find the 007’s bezel easier to read at a glance. In this aspect, I personally prefer the Monster’s bezel.

    Still on the bezel, the inner part of the bezel rises to same level as the highest point of the crystal (the centre). This provides much needed protect for the edge of the glass, helped by the domed profile of the latter. More on the crystal later.

    The last aspect of the case is the crown, which is uniquely situated at 8 o’clock. This position has advantages in protecting the crown from impact that is more likely to occur on the right of the case, as well as being comfortable to wear. Both SKX feature crown at 4, and while this is still preferable to crown at 3, I have personally experienced a quality issue on one of my ‘007 that was not machined well, resulting in a very sharp corner at the base of the crown guard. Crown at 8 does take some getting used to, and I still turn my watch upside-down to manipulate it.
    In manipulating the Citizen’s crown, however, I found a rather unappealing aspect of the watch. There is no problem, and everything works as it should—winding, setting Time, Day/Date—but the crown action and feedback are very imprecise. I attribute this more to the design of the crown stem and crown tube, more than any fault in the movement, and I won’t be surprised if the crown action is better in the AutoZilla, which is powered by essentially the same movement.

    CASE, CROWN, AND BEZEL

    Citizen Promaster NY0054 :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
    Seiko SKX007................:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
    Seiko SKX779................:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:



    All three watches feature Hardlex, which is ideal for divers in this category, though th

    ey differ in shape. On the SKX007, the crystal is flat with exposed edge that is not too well protected from chipping, as we often see. The flat glass is also not immune from reflection. The SKX779 Monster does lift up the game a little with slightly domed Hardlex and a bezel that, on the outer edge, is higher than the crystal itself, offering some protection against scrapes.

    It is the Promaster that excels here, not only for its truly domed Hardlex, but with a rim that is well-protected by the raised bezel edge. Some reviewers have complained of the shadow cast by the bezel onto the dial, making it difficult to read the dial, but I have no such issue.

    CRYSTAL

    Citizen Promaster NY0054 :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
    Seiko SKX007................:thumbup:
    Seiko SKX779................:thumbup: :thumbup:



    Though the two SKX share a common lineage and the same movement, their design execution could not be more different. The SKX007 adheres to the classic lines of the 6309-729x of the 1980s, while the dial pays tribute to the original 6309-704x. The SKX779, on the other hand, is all about bold departure from tradition. Avant-garde and confidently executed, a good friend on this forum accurately refers to the dial aesthetics as that of a Gothic ray gun. It is rare that something so boldly designed can so right the first time round. Whatever the designer of this watch was smoking at the time, I’d certainly like to have some. Both watches have more than adequate luminosity in the dark. SKX007 would rate very good, while the Monster is excellent and is often used as the benchmark by which the luminosity of any watch is measured.

    The Citizen Promaster’s dial leans more to the conservative side, with the red sweep seconds hand adding a wicked streak to the design. The quality is as good as one would expect from a mid-range Seiko diver from the Prospex range, and in this side-by-side, makes the SKX007’s dial look cheap. The other aspect that makes it win over the classic Seiko is the lume which is more comparable to that of the Monster.

    DIAL

    Citizen Promaster NY0054 :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
    Seiko SKX007................:thumbup: :thumbup:
    Seiko SKX779................:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:









    On to the power plant…

    Like many of you, I’ve owned many Seiko divers powered by the ubiquitous Cal. 7S26. A 4th generation of the long-serving 70xx family of calibers with roots going back to 1969. The 7S26, though, is a modern movement introduced in 1995 that takes advantage of modern material as well as the economy of automated manufacturing. The caliber is renown for robustness, reliability and durability.

    Citizen’s movement manufacturing arm, Miyota, has been equally busy since the 1970s, and the Miyota 8200 family of movement has been its bread-and-butter caliber in its ongoing rivalry with Seiko’s 61xx, 63xx, and many incarnations of the 70xx. As well as equipping its own Citizen automatic watch, Miyota also sells its movements to companies like Invicta, and pretty much anyone who wants them. As a result, Citizen became the world’s largest manufacturer of mechanical movement (though, I’m not sure if Seiko has now over taken Citizen). This is despite the fact that Citizen seem not to be investing much effort into further developing its mechanical movement, and prefer, instead to concentrate on quartz and Eco-Drive endeavors, much to the disappointment of die-hard mechanical WIS.

    Coming back to the Promaster NY0054, the diver is powered by Miyota Cal. 8203A, which is now into its 35th year of service. As I’m not about to crack open a new watch, here’s a photo of the movement of an earlier Citizen diver’s 8203A. It’s possible that the actual movement of my watch may look slightly different to this, though the workings are essentially the same. I mention this as the AutoZilla is powered by Miyota 8203B (pictured below).



    (Image Source: A_Junnghannz, Uhr Forum)




    As far as I know, the only difference is that the Cal. 8203B is better decorated, and possibly better adjusted. I may be due to the fact that the Cal. 8203 was used in the AutoZilla that many believe it to be the top execution of the 8200, and of a higher specifications than, say a Cal. 8215 that Miyota sells to Invicta.

    Regardless of the execution, the Miyota 8203, like the Seiko 7S26, is one of the simplest automatic movements around. Its design is devoid of excess, and in that sense, very pure and straight forward. Both the calibers contain 21 jewels and beat at 21,600 A/h with similar power reserve, but that’s where the similarity ends. The 7S26 features bi-directional winding, while the 8203’s ball-bearing rotor only winds in one direction (and this can be heard as you lift the watch up to your ear, and the rotor falls in the non-winding direction). To make up for this, the Miyota can be manually wound, while the Seiko cannot. This is useful if you happen to wear the watch occasionally, and need to restart the movement before setting the time. Neither movement feature hacking.

    It seems to be the general consensus that Citizen automatic watches are normally factory-adjusted to greater accuracy than the 7S26 watches. This is my first Citizen automatic (and only my second ever Citizen watch), so I’ll need to go on others’ experience. In this respect, I’ve also come across testimony from watchmakers who have serviced both Miyota 82xx and Seiko 7S26 (as well as Orient Cal. 46 which shares the same 70xx legacy), and they seem to agree that the general pattern is that 82xx wear less in the crucial areas of the movement, compared to the 7S26 and the Orient. Their conclusion is that the Miyota is more durable of the three. This has been reaffirmed by my own watchmaker, a veteran of Citizen for many years.

    All this of course, does not explain what I have here. A daily rate of +0.6 sec/day over 21 days is not just phenomenal, but the best ever achieved by any mechanical watch I have own to date. Here are the timing results.

    Crown-Left: +2 sec/day
    Dial-Up: +3 sec/day
    Dial-Down: 0 sec/day
    On-Wrist: -2 sec/day
    Average Daily Rate (over 21 days): +0.6 sec/day
    Average Monthly Rate: +18 sec/month


    (Mystery Watch is the Citizen Promaster NY0054)

    Nothing in its specifications seems to point to this. Simply put, this watch does not deserve to be this accurate. Considering that closest the other watches I currently own have come to this level of accuracy is -1 sec/day and, on the other side, +5 sec/day. The watches that posted these figures deserve to attain such greatness. One is a COSC certified chronometer—a 30 jewel ETA 2895, beating at 28’800 A/hr, based on the Tracteur ETA 2892. The other is a high-end Seiko Cal. 6138, 23 jewels, which came from the same family of movement that went on to become the Grand Seiko 6185 VFA, -2/+2 sec per day. So, for both to be beaten by a common garden variety workhorse Miyota is definitely not their proudest moment.
    In the end, I cannot really take into account the accuracy I have observed, and put it all down to luck. Still, I would still personally rate the Miyota 82

    03 slightly above the Seiko Cal. 7S26.

    MOVEMENT

    Citizen Miyota 8203A :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
    Seiko 7S26.............:thumbup: :thumbup:



    The Promaster NY0054 was shipped on 20 mm rubber divers straps, printed with a No Decompression Limits table (which is explained in detail in the instructions booklet). My initial impression was that they were softer than Seiko Z20, though I’m uncertain whether they would be as strong. No bracelet option is available.

    If you are thinking of buying a Seiko SKX007, my advice is to get it on Z22 rubber rather than the bracelet of mediocre quality the photo above of the SKX007 is on an aftermarket Oyster bracelet of much better quality. In buying the Monster, however, you’d be mad not to buy it on the excellent bracelet.

    BRACELET / STRAPS

    Citizen Promaster NY0054 :thumbup:
    Seiko SKX007................:thumbup:
    Seiko SKX779................:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:



    Pricewise, the SKX007 and SKX779 cost approximately 60-80% over that of the Promaster NY0054. This applies to both AD and grey market prices. A Promaster NY0054 can be had for around NZ$250, and is truly one of the hidden secrets among the entry level divers out there.

    However, tools need to be changed, switched and upgraded from time to time, and for those WIS for whom this rings true, the greatest cost of watch ownership is depreciation in value over time. For me at least, this is an aspect that I cannot afford to ignore. There are watches that hold value, and there are Seiko divers. Both SKX, though more costly to buy, retain their value extremely well, and both would rank within the top 20 most collectible Japanese watches.

    SKX007 was destined to be future classic from the moment it was released in the mid-90s. It’s the truest heir to an illustrious line of Seiko Diver watches, and the watch which “leads” the SKX line-up. I once commented to a friend that if TAG Heuer ran Seiko, they would cease production of this watch, wait for a few years before starting up production again, but this time calling the exact same watch a “6309 Re-Edition”, and retail it at 5 times the price or more.

    SKX779, on the other hand, only relied on the family for its inherited know-how in divers watch technology. It then wrote its own history. The Monster became one of the most successful Seiko of all time, and I cannot think of another Seiko which has gotten more non-Seiko people onto the Seiko bus than this Godzilla of a watch has. Its near-cult status will ensure its place in the Seiko history book.

    As for Citizen, although the company has a rich heritage in mechanical divers, and more recently the Aqualand and ‘Zilla, its pursuit away from the mechanical divers has somewhat robbed the mechanical Promaster of the respect they deserve. A few decades from now, when NOS SKX007 and Monsters will command a price that will leave you wishing you had kept one all those years ago, a vintage Citizen NY0054 will just be another old Citizen watch and no one seems to know much about.

    To a lesser extreme, a used Seiko diver of only a few years old is already commanding a higher price than a used Citizen of similar age and condition.

    VALUE AND DEPRECIATION

    Citizen Promaster NY0054 :thumbup: :thumbup:
    Seiko SKX007................:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
    Seiko SKX779................:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:



    All three have been watches I have personally purchased and owned, and it’s not easy picking one over another. Perhaps it is because the choice would also be a form self-judgment and to a lesser extent, self-reflection. There need be no winner or loser, and even if there was it would matter little. They say that when one buys a watch, one pays for both the tangible and the intangible values. Presented to you today are three 200m Diver’s watch that you could get your wrist under for the cost of a few tanks of petrol. You get a lot of tangible value and, in case of the Seiko, also a lot of the intangible value thrown in almost for free.

    SKX007 is proof of Rule No. 1 that a great idea shouldn’t be messed with. The SKX779 is proof that Rule No. 1 can be overridden if you have the depth of ability of Seiko. The Citizen Promaster NY0054 is proof that with the same depth of ability, a manufacturer can beat even Seiko at one of its core competency--offering excellent bang for your bucks.

    The Promaster beats SKX007, but Monster proved too tough. The latter walks away victorious.

    VERDICT

    Citizen Promaster NY0054 :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: 1/2
    Seiko SKX007................:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
    Seiko SKX779................:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:




    On the instruments we entrust to pace our lives, to bear witness to our days, and to be the keepers of the most precious thing we have... time.

  • #2
    BANG FOR BUCK You have an excellent buy .
    As for accuracy you have indeed struck it very lucky . :thumbup:
    I had a new Stainless Steel version pass through my hands a year ago and it was losing, -10 min a week. :roll:
    Luck of the draw some say , I got a bad draw
    But yes if mine had produced the same accuracy as yours it would still be in my collection today .
    Good score Don .
    Rest easy Matty , My best Mate and Son

    Comment


    • #3
      Great review. Agree with you on the comment about movement of the crown + stem when unscrewed. Personally love the Citizen for value, can't beat it if you're not concerned about selling it. Got two choices in dial colour: dark gray and a dark chalky navy.
      \"It is time\". (Arnold Schwarzenegger - Terminator 3)

      Comment


      • #4
        Don you do a tremendous review :D very gifted indeed, this forum is very lucky to have you.
        Interestingly I have this watch for sale brand new on TM now. it has one only bid at 110 dollars from a TF member and the real interesting part is... it has a buy now of $145.. So far no one has hit the buy now. so it begs the question..not many out there are Citizen fans.
        One thing I found different on the watch is the rough feeling you get when unscrewing the crown,it seems thats normal and I put that down to the titanium behaving differently on the thread...I have also seen reference to that elsewhere.
        My conclusion is its a bloody good watch ..seriously undervalued and selling for ridiculously low prices..
        Don a brilliant review :D George

        Comment


        • #5
          You must be pleased no one hit that 'buy now ' button now :D
          'Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' - but lets face it some people have better eyesight than others!

          Comment


          • #6
            You must be pleased no one hit that 'buy now ' button now :D

            LOL ...actually, when this is all over, I've decided that both the Seiko SKX779 and Promaster NY0054 (or maybe its successor) will be in my box. Both are highly recommended, and the more people are onto them, the better.
            On the instruments we entrust to pace our lives, to bear witness to our days, and to be the keepers of the most precious thing we have... time.

            Comment


            • #7
              Incredible Review, one of the best ‘Watch Reviews’ I have ever read - I hate reading watch reviews (prefer to destruction test then dissect) but Don focuses on the kinds of things which hold my interest and he’s not too biased as many are (Lol).

              Thanks Don like others keep saying you’re an incredible resource and we’re all very fortunate in your presence.

              Pretty certain I got the ball rolling on this watch, with the first bid (mostly due to the excellent review) but I see that the eventual winner was another timekeeper - what's the Promaster like Jake!!
              Harlan
              Timekeeper Watch Club
              New Zealand, Pacific Ocean, Earth

              Comment


              • #8
                Believe me when I say ...Ill pack it up..Jesus ..it had gone! I spent hours and I couldnt find it, Im pretty sure I know who got it...but thats as far as I can say. It sure wasnt the buyer. Fortunately for me the buyer understood. To be honest I was gutted and still am.
                The other sad part is I didnt have another.
                Not the best finish to what was a good auction assisted by other kind folk.
                SORRY! :cry:

                Comment


                • #9
                  That was classic... i thought I had the autobid on but.... ooops I accidentally annihilated the opposition!
                  Would have been more than happy to pick up that watch for two spot though - it still sounds like a bargain to me.
                  Cheers George, sorry it didn't quite work out !
                  I will definitely be buying one in the not too distant future and thanks indeed Don, for another really top-notch post :D - its nice to see someone of your calibre (ha) appreciating and educating us to the finer points watches which while not rare and costly status symbols are still great in their own right.
                  My karma ran over your dogma

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Incredible Review, one of the best ‘Watch Reviews’ I have ever read - I hate reading watch reviews (prefer to destruction test then dissect) but Don focuses on the kinds of things which hold my interest and he’s not too biased as many are (Lol).

                    Thanks Don like others keep saying you’re an incredible resource and we’re all very fortunate in your presence.
                    ...
                    ...I will definitely be buying one in the not too distant future and thanks indeed Don, for another really top-notch post :D - its nice to see someone of your calibre (ha) appreciating and educating us to the finer points watches which while not rare and costly status symbols are still great in their own right.


                    Thank you both the for the encouragement, and for revisiting this review that I had written a while ago. Interestingly (though not surprisingly), since this review was completed, I had personally owned another Black Monster (and had another in hand), and also owned another Promaster NY0054. That really says something, I guess. A lot of other watches I've owned are missed, but it's only these two that I then do something about it.
                    On the instruments we entrust to pace our lives, to bear witness to our days, and to be the keepers of the most precious thing we have... time.

                    Comment

                    Working...
                    X