Upping the Ante: Introducing Citizen’s Promaster Tsuno Chrono Racer 50th Anniversary Edition
The Japanese brand pays tribute to its past while betting on the future with this outstanding limited-edition bullhead chronograph.
There’s a reason that one of the biggest hit singles of the 1970s was “Macho Man” by the Village People. During the “Me” decade, watch enthusiasts embraced design details such as bold layouts, blocky cases, and leather straps. The original 1973 Tsuno Chrono from Citizen, for example, is a perfect expression of this take on rugged individualism.
In fact, since its debut in 1973, the Tsuno Chrono has seemed to embody the essence of a certain kind of free-spirited lifestyle. Most memorably, it appeared on a bund strap wrapped around the wrist of Brad Pitt’s stuntman character in the 2019 Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Muy macho!
Of course, as watch nerds have noted, including a Tsuno Chrono is an anachronism. The movie takes place in 1969, but Citizen didn’t introduce the hugely popular Tsuno Chrono bullhead watch until 1973. That said, Tarantino’s costume designers were able to get away with this anachronism because the Tsuno Chrono is essentially timeless.
Luckily for us, Citizen has returned five decades later with a Tsuno Chrono for the “Meme” generation that fuses a vintage design aesthetic with a very “now” sense of performance and functionality.
Gold & Bold
Like a bull eyeballing a nearby china shop, the case of the new Tsuno Chrono Racer cannot be ignored. First, its sculptural, cushion-shaped case (made from stainless steel that is a warm gold tone) and refined yet rugged brown leather strap project 1970s machismo so strongly it’s like time never progressed. That said, its black bezel and pushers help balance this out by bringing the watch’s styling back to the future.
Second, it’s a real wrist burger. The original Tsuno was 38mm, but the case of the 2023 Tsuno Chrono Racer, which measures 45mm across and 15.3mm thick, cannot be classified as anything other than big!
Thus, while it wears much more comfortably than its size would suggest, it isn’t the kind of watch that will hide demurely under your cuff (but you can leave your casual denim jacket unbuttoned).
Interestingly, despite the current popularity of 1970s-inspired watch designs, the reason why the Tsuno Chrono, as a model of watch, is such a winner among enthusiasts is its distinctive display.
For instance, while the counters on the 2023 Tsuno Chrono Racer are dark-bordering-on-black gray to offset the potential gaudiness of the gold, its dial packs in a bunch of info and functionality: First, the 12 o’clock sub-dial hosts a 60-minute counter for the flyback chronograph. Next, the 3 o’clock sub-dial displays the running seconds. Then, at 6 o’clock, there is the 12-hour chronograph. Meanwhile, the last sub-dial sits at 9 o’clock and is a power reserve indicator.
That’s not all! Other features include an alarm indicator between 4 and 5 o’clock and a date display between 1 and 2 o’clock.
Finally, this quirky display has another function: The Promaster movement had to be rotated by 90 degrees to accommodate the position of the bullhead pushers.
We know that this might sound like chaos on paper, but once the Tsuno Chrono Racer is on your wrist, you will be surprised by how readable it is. Plus, in person, you can see the logic and strategies at play in the design. For example, the outer chapter ring is a multi-tasker, doing triple duty as a tachymeter scale, a seconds scale, and a mounting point for the floating applied indices.
It’s What’s Inside That Counts
For all its swagger, the Tsuno Chrono Racer also brings playfulness to the table. For instance, thanks to their satisfyingly firm feel, the bullhead orientation of the pushers is more than a design gimmick. Plus, the mechanical-like sweep of the central chronograph seconds lends an old-school charm to the watch’s performance.
Moreover, none of the Tsuno Chrono’s braggadocio would matter if the watch didn’t have the functionality to back it up. That is why the Tsuno Chrono Racer 50th Anniversary Edition features a hand-assembled Caliber E210 light-powered Mecca-quartz movement, which consists of 230 individual parts and is sustainably powered by light using Eco-Drive technology (it’ll run for eight months on a single solar charge).
The Promaster Tsuno Chrono Racer 50th Anniversary Edition is limited to 3,000 pieces, comes in a shiny gold PVD display box, and is priced at $1,195. For more information, visit Citizen’s website.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)