With a family trip to Colorado and the Rocky Mountains National Park coming up, I wanted a watch I could bang off rocks or wear while crossing a rushing river. (Not that I would do that. Ever.) I also wanted one that wouldn’t look like crap when I was done (yeah, Hardlex … I still remember that stone wall in downtown Charleston). In other words, a beater watch that wouldn’t look beaten.
I initially went in two directions: the Hamilton Khaki Mechanical and the classic indestructible G-Shock. For my interests, the Hamilton seemed a little costly. Plus, I was just a little disappointed with the water resistance. I mean, it’s a great value watch, absolutely. But I wanted a real, multipurpose watch, one that could go to the mountains, desert, shoreline or hotel pool. (And one I could justify to the Mrs.)
I know people love their G-Shocks. They were created to take a beating. I even had one teed up in my Amazon cart. The problem is, I just don’t like the look. I’m a child of the 70s, and I had at least one Casio, maybe more. But, sorry Jody, no nostalgia for them.
That’s when I found I could get the Citizen Promaster Tough on Amazon at that time for just over $200 USD. I’ve owned this watch for a little over 3 months, and I find it’s as advertised, and more.
This watch certainly seems well named. It has a 2-piece steel case covered in a coating of titanium for increased scratch resistance. It sports a sapphire crystal, albeit flat. The screw-down crown has crown guards and is easy to work with; this combined with a solid case back delivers 200 meters of water resistance. The Tough is also shock resistant and antimagnetic. So, scratch-resistant, water-resistant, shock-resistant– check, check, check.
The Tough has a solar-powered Eco-Drive engine, which I confess appeals to me in this time of environmental madness. Fully charged it will run for 6 months. And, considering my age, will likely still be running after I’m not, without needing a battery replacement.
But here’s the kicker: I like how this watch looks. It looks like a watch, not a minicomputer designed by the Transformers.
I like the matte metallic chapter ring and the multi-layered dial. The indices are bold, especially the 12 o’clock. It has an almost dive watch aesthetic, though without a rotating bezel.
The Super-LumiNova on the hands and dial markers are a standout. The hour hand is the same shade of green as the indices; the minute hand is blue lume. It’s not obvious until you’re in the dark; that’s where this well-applied lume really… umm… shines.
The mixed textile/polyurethane strap (officially the Cordura® ballistic fabric strap) is stiff, and a bit of a challenge to work with, but looks the part for this watch. Still, I would prefer something just a tad softer.
The biggest issue is the date. It’s much too small and nothing special in terms of the date window. I would have preferred no date.
Overall, The Citizen Promaster Tough is all that and attractive in a restrained way in the light, with a nice presence in the dark. As such, it fits a nice niche in my humble mini-collection.
There are currently three versions of the Tough: my mean green, a black version on a black strap, and a black dial on a bracelet. You can check them out here.
Writer’s note: This article feels late. Jack Forester covered the Citizen Promaster Tough in Hodinkee’s Value Proposition section, and then highlighted it again as his choice for favorite new watch under $2,000.
(Editors Note : Do you think Jack wear one when he mows the lawn? Come to think of it, do you think jack actually owns one? Actually do you think Jack mows his won lawn, or does he get Stevie P to do it for him? #iwouldmowJackslawn)