Don’t let its nondescript looks fool you – this is a superbly rugged tool watch for all sorts of intrepid adventures, with a super-light yet seriously strong titanium case, a sapphire crystal and a solar quartz movement that is ideally suited to off-grid expeditions.
Extremely robust build
Battery-free Eco-Drive movement
Super-light, anti-magnetic and hypoallergenic titanium case
Japanese Eco-Drive solar quartz movement
Stiff and unforgiving strap
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Citizen Promaster Titanium Tough: first impressions
At first glance, the Citizen Promaster Titanium Tough might not appear to be much to look at. It’s definitely a function-first, utility-driven design, with a matte dial, large numeric indices and a simple handset, all housed in a compact monobloc case. But actually, all those elements are true to the original concept of a field watch, and also make this a supremely practical adventure companion.
• RRP: £299 (UK)
• Dimensions: 46mm (lug-to-lug) x 40mm (case diameter)
• Thickness: 12mm
• Weight: 133g / 4.7oz
• Movement: Japanese Citizen Eco-Drive solar quartz
• Power reserve: N/A
• Water resistance: 300m / 990ft
• Materials & features: Brushed Super Titanium monobloc case with crown guards / Flat anti-reflective sapphire crystal / Signed, knurled screw-down crown / Kevlar woven strap
What’s more, the Promaster Titanium Tough’s specs are seriously impressive, right alongside the the other contenders in our best field watches buying guide. First, there’s the case. It’s made from Citizen’s proprietary “Super Titanium”, finished with a scratch-resistant coating for increased durability. Titanium itself is a great choice for a tool watch, being a lightweight yet strong material, with added anti-magnetic, hypoallergenic and corrosion-resistant properties.
The design is also a monobloc construction, which means the watch has no caseback – instead, the entire assembly is loaded from the front. This helps to give the watch an impressive water resistance of 300m, as well as enhanced robustness and rigidity. A knurled, screw-down crown protected by chunky crown guards and a flat sapphire crystal also offer plenty of impact resistance. And the watch is supplied with strap made from a Kevlar-infused woven fabric – the same stuff used in bulletproof vests – to further emphasize its hard-as-nails credentials.
Inside, it is powered by Citizen’s famous Eco-Drive movement, a solar quartz assembly that charges itself via a solar cell positioned out of sight under the dial. When fully charged, it will run for at least 180 days even in total darkness. It’s also fitted with a low-charge indicator: when the seconds hand jumps starts ticking every two seconds rather than every second, that means the watch needs a burst of sunshine. It’s a great choice for off-grid adventures and means never having to worry about replacing a battery (the only failure components are typically the solar capacitors, which are rated with a 10-year lifespan, but anecdotally can live for much longer).
The watch is finished nicely, with a brushed case and bezel that reduce glare and reflections in harsh sunlight. If you look closely, there are some more subtle polished elements that add a bit of visual interest too. The knurled crown is easy to grip and unscrew, but is well seated inside the two crown guards. The dial itself is fairly simple, with a large chapter ring surrounding a highly legible and lume-heavy dial and handset. There is a small date window at 3 o’clock too.
Citizen Promaster Titanium Tough: in the field
This is a compact and lightweight watch that is virtually unnoticeable on the wrist, save for the stiffness of the strap, which did start to break in after a couple of weeks of wear. Of course, given that the lugs are 20mm wide, it would be easy to switch out the strap for a more supple and comfortable alternative. Just for kicks, we tried it with a Cordura nylon strap and a blue waffle FKM rubber strap, both of which proved to be great additions.
The Promaster Titanium Tough ticks all the boxes for a field watch, being as rugged and robust as its name suggests. Citizen’s Super Titanium case proved to be impressively scratch-resistant, as did the sapphire crystal. The dial is also highly legible by both day and night, thanks to prominent numeric indices and a chunky handset. Again, the anti-reflective coating on the crystal helps with readability, even at a glance in bright sunlight. And after dark, the generously applied lume also ensures excellent legibility in low-light situations.
Then there’s the 300m water resistance and the anti-magnetic case, which makes this a great watch for use in the water or on land (especially when navigating with a compass). In short, it’s a great camping, outdoor and survival watch. We reckon it would certainly give the G-Shock Mudmaster or the Victorinox I.N.O.X. we tested a run for their money in terms of durability too, despite being half the price of either of those rivals.
The Citizen is also significantly lighter and smaller on the wrist, which arguably makes it more practical for active outdoor pursuits like climbing or hillwalking, as well as daily wear. Admittedly, in terms of looks, it’s more understated than those alternatives, though some might appreciate the more muted styling. Bottom line? This is a rugged, no-nonsense watch that will withstand plenty of use and abuse.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.