The Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m – Titanium Technology 50th Anniversary Asia Limited Edition
The Citizen legacy in titanium watches
Titanium as a case material is a relatively recent phenomena. Its use in aerospace was celebrated in the 1960s as the preferred construction material for the spacecrafts of the Apollo program due to its lightweight and rust-resistant properties. But it was not until 1970, when Citizen released the X-8 Chronometer, when the world saw the use of titanium in watch cases. The X-8 had a case which with a rough surface and a dull looking exterior.
Following up quickly on Citizen’s steps, Seiko released their first titanium watch in 1975 – in a 600m water resistant case – claiming to be the world’s first professional diving titanium watch.
Citizen’s first foray meant that they discovered the challenges of producing the titanium cases. There were primarily three main reasons:
- The reactive nature of titanium with oxygen and nitrogen in the air resulted that the material would stick in the mould, making it unusable.
- when machined, the titanium filings would adhere to cutting tools, causing friction, and wearing down of the tool.
- the titanium crystals were very hard, and polishing the surface was extremely difficult. The result of a standard polishing using the techniques developed for steel resulted in an orange peel effect, instead of smooth shiny surface.
In 2000, Citizen made a breakthrough with Duratech. This was a technology where titanium can be surface hardened, and though equivalent technologies have been invented by other companies since, Duratech remains proprietary to Citizen.
Citizen calls titanium which has been treated with Duratech – Super Titanium. It is 5 times the surface hardness of stainless steel, and thus is able to offer a much higher scratch resistance. The hardened surface can also be polished to a smooth, mirror-like finish. And is available in a wide variety of colour variations. The base titanium characteristics of low density (and hence lightweight), hypoallergenic remains unchanged.
Citizen is rather quiet about how Duratech is made, and did not show us the facilities when we visited the manufactures in Japan. Understandably so, as this is a trade secret, though we have it on rather good authority that the alloy is heated to over 2000°C and bombarded with electron beams. It then gets pressure-bonded and this creates an incredibly strong but also scratch resistant ionized titanium.
Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m NY0105-81E Titanium Technology 50th Anniversary Asia Limited Edition
Retail price of the NY0105-81E is S$1,262.36 inclusive of Singapore GST. This is a numbered limited edition series of 500 pieces and available now in selected Asia markets.
The new Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m NY0105-81E Titanium Technology 50th Anniversary Asia Limited Edition is the culmination of the journey that Citizen has embarked on over the last 50 years on the use of titanium. This new diving watch is now fashioned in a case and bracelet in full titanium black DLC instead of the typical stainless steel, the first time that such a premium option has been used in the series.
Except for the titanium that is used for the case and bracelet, the watch is the same as the previous generations of the Promaster “Fugu” series which has been very successful. We have covered the earlier generations of the Promaster NY008 series in 2018, which was itself based on the iconic Promaster NY004 mechanical diver that was released in 1989, has spawned a number of generations of this iconic diving watch series. The 2018 edition was followed up by the Promaster NY009 in 2019. Since that time, the watch has been offered on a metal bracelet in 2019, and then after that, with a larger 44mm size in 2020 with the Promaster NY011 series.
The case, dial and hands
The new watch comes in the familiar 42mm wide case, The rest of the main features, including the unidirectional bezel, the 200 metres of water resistance and the luminous hands and indices, allow the watch to be in complicance with the ISO 6425 standard for diving watches.
The case is in Super Titanium, and further enhanced by a DLC coating. The dial layout, the hands and indices are exactly the same as with other Promaster Fugu watches. This is a very good thing, as it means that is superbly legible in the dark as well as in good light. The bezel markings is in white for the first 15 minutes, and then fades into a grey for the rest of the minute track, highlighting the timing the initial and most important part of a dive.
On the wrist, it feels nice and comfortable. No doubt the ultra light weight of the titanium case and bracelet are big contributing features. In our use over about 2 weeks, the movement proved to be reliable and reasonably accurate, gaining about 10s over the time it was with us – alternating between about 9 hours on the wrist, and the rest of the time on an automatic watch winder.
As with the case, the movement remains Calibre 8203 movement, which has proven itself to be rugged and reliable.
The movement is not visible from the case back, but perhaps this is for the better, as it will win no beauty contests – being finished only to the minimal mechanical engineering standards required for functionality. See the reviews of the other Promaster Fugu watches to get a look at how the movement looks like.
The movement is not lavished in any non-essential and decorative finishing. We are not expecting a haute horlogerie finished level, and think it is commensurate with the pricing level the Promaster NY0105-81E is targeted at.
The competitive landscape
Marketed at S$1,262, the pricing is very competitive, and at the top of our heads, the collective Deployant Editorial team could not think of another hardened titanium watch with a mechanical movement rated for 200m diving use with a hardened titanium bracelet.
Almost all the competition we would think of are much more expensive. The perpetual Japanese rival in Seiko only titanium dive watches are much more expensive. For example the Prospex LX Black Edition is available in a hardened titanium version, but the black super-hard coated SNR031 retails at €6,100. The SNR031 is however powered by the Spring Drive 5R65 movement, which is a more advanced system with better finishing.
This is a beautiful watch – the aesthetics are very attractive. Coupled with the ultra durable Super Titanium case, enhanced with Black DLC coating, it becomes a hip and stealthy piece. The legibility is excellent, and it works outstandingly well. The 42mm case fits nicely on most wrist. And yes, we can’t quite get over its handsome good looks.
Though the price is double the asking S$633 price of the steel NY0097-87A, we prefer the lighter NY0105-81E with its hardened titanium case and bracelet. The cool black vibes make it an easier justification. Though those who have a more limited budget might have to stick to the steel version. We like it that Citizen makes both available to choose from. And both to be priced at this very moderate level. Bravo!
Promaster Mechanical Diver 200m – Titanium Technology 50th Anniversary Asia Limited Edition Specifications
PROMASTER Mechanical Diver 200m – Titanium Technology 50th Anniversary ASIA LIMITED EDITION
S$1,262.36 inclusive of GST or HK$6,100 (no tax)
Case / Band
Bezel Insert Colour
Diameter 42mm *Design specification only
Cal.8203 / Automatic / Day & Date Display / Rotating Bezel
200m water resistance / Luminous (hands + indices + bezel at 12 o’clock)/ approx. 40hr power reserves (hands + indices + bezel at 12 o’clock)/ approx. 40hr power reserve