A Dive Watch for All Seasons: A Week on the Wrist with the Promaster Dive Automatic “Fujitsubo” from Citizen
Inspired by a barnacle-covered 1977 Challenge Diver found on an Australian beach, this modern titanium watch is the perfect diver for sweater weather.
I saw a tweet this week that read: “Summer punched out hard at the end of its shift this year.”
The quick transition from balmy weather to cool fall air is not a problem for me: Autumn is my favorite season, and I love the hygge comfort of a classic cardigan. The only downside is that I like wearing dive watches year-round. Sometimes the bulk of a tool watch is at odds with long sleeves.
A Good Story
I have a lot of dive watches, although my underwater adventures are limited to open-water swimming. I know it’s shallow, but I’m most attracted to the look and feel of this genre. Here’s where Citizen fits in.
Enthusiasts are well versed in the resilience of Citizen’s sports watches. In 1983, one of the brand’s self-winding Challenge Diver watches – a forerunner of the Promaster line – washed ashore on Australia’s Long Reef Beach. Covered in barnacles, experts estimated that it had been lost at sea for at least six years, yet it was still ticking away, happy as a clam.
These new Fujitsubo Promasters (“fujitsubo” means “barnacle” in Japanese) are inspired by the original Challenge Diver design. However, their external features and the movement inside have been updated for today’s use; it’s a great option for everyday wear in our modern life.
Though not as skinny as the new light-powered Eco-Drive One, which is only 12.3 mm thick, the Fujitsubo is slimmer than the original Challenge Diver. In comparison to actual vintage mechanical divers in my collection (specifically my 1970s-era Devil Diver), it mostly avoids the traps of Neo-Vintage.
Yes, the typography on the bezel, the dial display, and the guardless crown are virtually indistinguishable from the Challenge Diver. Citizen just made everything a little better.
For example, the 41mm case is lightweight, scratch-resistant Super Titanium. Plus, the embossed indices have a classic green lume which provides an excellent glow (I checked it out late at night, outside in my isolation hammock because it was the only safe place to escape my COVID-cabin fever).
Meanwhile, the unidirectional bezel is inset into the case and provides a satisfying click. And the NB6021-17E model polyurethane band with a raised square pattern is also more durable than the rubber straps of yore. At the same time, it’s the least stiff rubber bracelet that I’ve ever worn.
Dive into Fall
The timing of writing up a hands-on review for the Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic for this article proved to be serendipitous. Citizen Canada had just sent me the Citizen Promaster Dive Automatic to test drive, and at the time, temperatures were still in the mid-70s, and skies were still sunny. So, I was able to wear it in summery conditions at first.
Composed of the brand’s lightweight Super Titanium alloy with scratch-resistant Duratect coating, the black-dialed Promaster Dive Automatic “Fujitsubo” felt easy and breezy on the wrist. I tried out the model with a black textured rubber strap completed by a Super Titanium pin buckle (there is also a blue dialed version with a titanium bracelet).
Rubber makes for a good all-season material because it is supple (meaning it’s not pinchy) and waterproof. This attribute came in handy when the first day of fall hit and the clouds opened up.
Luckily, the signed screw-down winding crown, in combination with a solid titanium caseback, helps provide the Citizen Fujitsubo diver with an ISO-certified 200 meters of water resistance.
The watch also arrived just when COVID finally caught up with me. Asymptomatic but still quarantining, I had the time to revel in the Promaster’s subtler delights.
First, the timepiece comes in a fun Scuba tank-shaped presentation box. Now, typically, I don’t get fussed about presentation boxes. But this one emphasized the historical connection to Citizen’s professional diving watches while taking me back to my youth when I wanted to join Jacques Cousteau and crew on the Calypso.
There are many sensory delights to the Fujitsubo: the sapphire glass has a flat cut top and a domed underside, plus the sides of the crystal are beveled to provide a cool, retro look. The finish of the titanium gives off what can only be described as a grey glow.
It’s What’s Inside That Counts
Progress is always good in my book. For desk divers who get more exposure to high-tech gadgets than deep water, the Fujitsubo is powered by a Calibre 9051 mechanical movement. This mechanism uses anti-magnetic materials for the balance spring and surrounding components, which helps maintain performance even when placed one centimeter from a device emitting a magnetic field of 16,000 A/m.
If you do, however, find yourself in the deep, it is also an ISO-compliant diver’s watch rated to 200m. It provides up to 42 hours of running time when fully wound and has an average daily accuracy of -10 to +20 seconds per day.
One last thought, the Promaster Dive Automatic would be an excellent choice for any enthusiast who wanted one dive watch in their collection. But I’d also argue that it would be a welcome addition for someone who already has many dive watches.
I love my chunk-of-funk vintage pieces, but they almost always get put away with my summer clothes. I love my contemporary pieces just as much. The look of the Fujitsubo is distinctive enough that I can see it joining the rotation without having to dispossess another diver.
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(Images © Citizen)