This is a review of a just-received watch. I haven't had the time to wear it for days, but the first impressions should be sufficient for a rather in-depth review. The pictures provided are taken by a cell-phone of the previous generation - so they are not top-notch quality, sorry. There may also be some dust particles on the watch - that is my fault entirely. They are not faults in the coating - I assure you. The watch was purchased at creationwatches - following an advert of Jason on the WUS sales forums. The watch was shipped and arrived relatively fast, no issues there.
The Promaster Sky I'm reviewing is better know as the Japanese/European version of the Citizen Nighthawk - of which there are a couple of reviews already. This one, however, is, currently, the only one of the all-black PVD version. Right, let's get started!
Brand, Model, Nickname: Citizen Skymaster Pro BJ7019-62E, nicknamed "Nighthawk". it is well known that the Japanese versions do not, officially, hold the nickname of Nighthawk anywhere on the watch itself, however, the differences between the US and the EU/Japan versions are so subtle that I, and everyone else, apparently, can be fully justified to apply the moniker to this version as well
The watch is very sturdy and heavy - officially weighted at 150g. On the whole, it blends both modern and classic features seamlessly - it is neither as simple as a basic Seiko 5, nor is it as complex as Citizen's other pilot watches (such as the Black Eagle, for example). Upon the very first glance of it upon lifting it out of the box & unwrapping it, I instantly knew that this watch is a looker - and what a looker, at that!
Based on the information given in the user's guide, this watch uses the B877 Caliber movement - a quartz movement run by solar power-fed battery instead of a disposable one. The watch can keep track of two timezones - one by it's main hands, the other by the little GMT hand - a rather unique design not seen on other watches at that, the current date, or the current GMT time. Of course, the movement is not really a highlight of a quartz-based non-automatic watch, but the second hand moves in crisp, sharp increments, and the hour and minute hands seem to be extremely precise, and move with very little lee-way when setting - after the initial jolt. The presumed accuracy of this caliber is said, by Citizen, to be "Within /-15sec/month", which should mean a maximum deviation of 3 minutes a year on either side - a feat not many automatics could dare to approach without a certificate of one or the other kind.
The case of the watch is made entirely from Stainless Steel, coated in a thin, black ion-plating. It essentially means that several microns of the steel have been structurally enfused with the black paint, so that it can not physically 'peel off' or 'flake'. Technically, it means that the surface colour is as thick - if not more - than the regular Stainless Steel durability. However, there is a caveat. Since the layer of coating is relatively thin, bigger scratches can go deeper and reach the white steel below the paint. Since white stripes on black show easily, this type of watch should be kept somewhat safe from thrashing and beating. That said, to me it seems that it is sturdy and durable enough to withstand regular, every-day wear and tear. The upper half of the case is in fact a rotating bezel - the well known E6B Aviation Slide Rule. It is rotated by the online casino little crown in the '8' position - it can not be moved by hand. This lends another assurance of the durability of the case. The back is made of stainless steel, it's a screw-on, and has a very nice engraving for such a low-priced watch. In fact, the engraving is crisp, clear (though the pictures may not relate it well), well-detailed and immensively helpful in fixing the watch in place on wrist. The main crown, at '3' position, is a screw-down, and has the Promaster Sky logo engraved - a nice touch, again something you see very rarely on sub-800$ watches. The slide-rule turning crow, however, is neither engraved nor screwdown, however, it does not compromise water-resitence, because the case is fitted together in such a way that the additional crown does not reach the interior of the watch at all - it does not penetrate the water-tight seals.
Unfortunately, Citizen does not provide a sapphire crystal with this watch series - which is a shame, and actually, the only negative the watch has. The crystal is a scratch-resistant mineral with inside anti-glare coating, instead. To be fair, this does mean that you will have to be a bit careful with the watch, as the crystal is almost as wide as the case itself, but for all appearances, the crystal is extremely clear and non-obstructive. In actual life, you can barely notice it at all - which is why you really should take a look at this watch in person, just to know what it feels like. The crystal is raised above the case by about a milimeter - meaning you should not leave the watch face-down, ever. It is completely flat, so there are rare angles that give a reflection - but most of the time, there is none.
Bracelet - the bracelet for this specific version is also coated with the same black PVD coating that the case has. The bracelet is very tough, firm and angular. It is also one of the best metal bracelets I've ever worn or tried on - there is absolutely zero wobble and rattle - it feels as if it was built to serve in war-time circumstances. Whether the coating holds up, I've no idea, but as it is, I am thoroughly impressed.
The clasp is the best design out there, in my opinion - the well-tested, basic 'Push-to-deploy' with a stylized fold-over safeguard. It, just as the rest of the watch, feels exceptionally solid, and there is nothing flimsy about it. There are 3 holes in the clasp for fine-tuning the bracelet length, a task more than easy, as it seems to be spring-based. Simple, and effective.
Let's face it (pun intended) - the face, the dial and the slide rule is what this watch is all about. I am no pilot, so I don't know how easy or useful to use this is in an actual fighter cockpit, but as an Average Joe, the face is easily one of the most beautiful samples of tech watches out there. When viewed close-up, all the little numbers, indices, lines and accents are surprisingly crisp and clear, and using the slide rule is a blast, not hampered by poor viewability in the least (though older aged people might disagree). When viewed from a distance, however, or at a glance, all the tiny details sort of blend into the background ,leaving amazingly unobstructed main hands and hour indices perfectly viewable. To be honest, I was astonished how easy it is to tell the basic time on this watch on a glance, given the relative complexity of the dial.
The hour indices are raised above the dial a bit, ad have a chrome-like finish on the edges, with a lumed square on the outer side. The numbers (12 and 6) are not raised, unfortunately - something that is different from the US version. Nevertheless, the lume on the numbers is the Citizen signature blue lume, very sharp and clear - and very fast-charging too. It is enough for the watch to be placed at the window on a cloudy winter's day to charge the lume sufficiently!
The main hands are lumed, with steel-finish outline, classic sword-shaped. The second hand is entirely metallic, and exceptionally thin. The special hand - which tells the GMT time (or an alternate time), has two little airplanes - red and white - at the opposite ends, that help to distinguish which semi-circle of the GMT time we should be looking at. The tiny airplane figures are well-made and sharp, giving the whole watch a tiny bit of that 'vintage' and 'luxury' look. There is little promotive writing on the dial, thankfully - only the brand name (Citizen), "Eco-Drive" and "WR-200", near the Skymaster Pro logotype - as seen on the crown.
The watch is, in my opinion, one of the best offerings Citizen has made recently. It is astonishingly cheap - you can get one at around 200-250 USD (I got mine at 250$ shipped) new, and it looks and feels to be built well enough for a 1000$ pricetag. The only, and I really mean - the only - drawback is the lack of a sapphire glass. Everything else can be varied - there are leather straps, and plain stainless steel cases and bracelets, black and brown and blue dials, black and white slide rules. Then again - if you are buying a watch that is known as a Nighthawk, why don't you take the all-black version? Black is, after all, the colour of the night.. And another thing - this watch, thank's to its design and styling, has the potential to become a classic in two, three years' time. If you treat it well, it may even be something to pass on to your children - as the eco-drive system will ensure that it remains running for that long!
So if you are meaning to buy a Citizen eco-drive, if you want a pilot's watch that looks good with both bracelet and strap, if you want a cool-looking watch, or all of the above, you will do yourself good if you choose this. For myself, this is now at the top of my collection, and shall remain a firm favourite for a long time. This one is not for flipping - this one is for keeping!
many thanks to Elijah