March 24, 2023
One of my favorite Citizen designs is the brand’s BN series of watches from the Promaster Dive collection. I’ve owned the original black dial model for a number of years, and it has been the definition of a carefree timepiece and one of my go-to watches for a wide variety of different outdoor activities. That said, back when I purchased my example, Citizen only offered this model in either black or navy blue, and it has only been in recent years that additional colorways have been added to the lineup. While the BN series was originally a rather sober and utilitarian design that was frequently considered to be a solar-powered alternative to the Seiko SKX, the new colorways have given the BN lineup a much more relaxed and playful identity. The latest additions to the collection are a trio of highly colorful renditions that take the core design of the Citizen Promaster BN series diver and place it firmly in vacation mode when it comes to its aesthetics.
Unlike some models such as the Fugu or Ecozilla, these entry-level Citizen Eco-Drive divers don’t actually have any formal name beyond their generic “Promaster Dive” label, with only their rather long and convoluted reference numbers (which all start with “BN”) used to designate the various colorways. The trio of new models consists of the ref. BN0169-03X with a steel case and an orange dial, the ref. BN0163-00H has a rose gold finished case with a gray wave-pattern dial, and my personal favorite among the new models, the ref. BN0162-02X, which has a gold-tone case, a turquoise-blue dial, and a matching aqua-colored rubber strap. While these particular colorways are hardly the options for someone who wants a diver with a rugged and function-forward appearance, they are still just as capable as their more restrained siblings, with all of them being proper ISO-certified dive watches that offer 200 meters of water resistance.
In terms of case size and profile, the gold and turquoise Citizen Promaster Dive ref. BN0162-02X is identical to the other models from the current BN series, and it measures 44mm in diameter by 11.5mm-thick, with 20mm lugs and an overall lug-to-lug distance of 49.5mm. Similarly, it also features almost entirely brushed surfaces, with the only polished elements being located on the crown and within the small grooves on the bezel. Just like the other BN models, a flat mineral glass crystal protects the dial, the reverse side of the case receives a solid screw-down caseback, and a signed screw-down crown protected by two small guards protrudes from the side of the case at the 4 o’clock location. Surrounding the crystal is a 60-click unidirectional timing bezel that rotates with a satisfying action and that features a slightly domed outer rim with alternating grooved and smooth sections.
Although the case, crown, and bezel ring all receive a gold-tone finish, the caseback is normal brushed stainless steel, and despite its largely turquoise and gold color profile, the bezel on the ref. BN0162-02X is fitted with a black aluminum insert that has a silver-colored 60-minute timing scale. While the decision to go with silver text on the bezel insert might sound slightly questionable, I think it works in this particular instance, and the silver numerals on the bezel complement the white printing featured on the dial. Additionally, although 44mm might sound a bit large, the sides of the case and the bezel feature a somewhat rounded profile, which makes the Citizen Promaster Dive BN series wear quite a bit smaller than its on-paper dimensions, and it ultimately feels more like something in the 40mm to 42mm range.
The one small gripe that I have with the Citizen Promaster Dive reference BN0162-02X is the same exact one that I have with many of the brand’s models, which is that they are fitted with crystals made from mineral glass rather than sapphire. Additionally, price point doesn’t always seem to be the single determining factor when it comes to crystal material, and there are some budget-friendly models (such as the titanium Citizen Garrison ref. BM8560-53E) that have sapphire crystals, while others like the flagship Aqualand Depth Meter diver are still fitted with crystals made from mineral glass. Years ago, I remember hearing that Citizen will sometimes specifically opt to use mineral glass on certain sports and tool watches due to the fact that it is more impact resistant. The underlying idea here is that during active use, it would be preferable to have a watch crystal be more prone to scratches and superficial damage if it ultimately means being more resistant to shattering and complete structural failure.
Realistically speaking, I’m sure price point is also one of the key factors that determine the type of crystal material used in Citizen watches, although considerations surrounding impact resistance would explain why you will find a mineral glass crystal fitted to a watch that costs twice the price of one that has a sapphire crystal. Anecdotally, my personal BN series diver has taken quite a few hard hits over the years, and while it has picked up numerous small marks and scratches on the crystal (enough to the point where I even tried polishing it with PolyWatch’s mineral glass formula), it has yet to crack or shatter. Even still, I think most people (myself included) would prefer for Citizen to use sapphire crystals whenever possible, and if additional impact resistance is needed, a thicker crystal should be able to help supply it.
Along with its bold and vibrant colorway, one of the standout features on the reference BN0162-02X is its dial, which offers a turquoise blue surface with a subtle gradient effect that darkens towards the outer edges. Unlike many of the dials fitted to solar-powered watches that are characterized by a slightly translucent appearance when viewed in bright lighting, the dial fitted to the Citizen Promaster reference BN0162-02X has a rich and saturated color, along with raised gold surrounds for the hour markers, which visually connect the dial to the case of the watch. Beyond its novel colorway, the overall style of the dial is identical to the other models in the BN series, complete with its angled chapter ring, geometric handset, and date window at the 4 o’clock location.
Similarly, while the handset is identical in its shape to what can be found on the other Citizen Promaster BN series divers, it offers a unique and colorful finish that further adds to the vacation vibes of the reference BN0162-02X. While the hour hand is polished gold, the minute hand is red with a matte black base, and the seconds hand gets finished bright yellow to match the Promaster logo on the lower half of the dial. Additionally, just as you would expect from a proper ISO-certified dive watch, all three of the hands plus each one of the 12-hour markers are finished with brightly glowing luminous material for added visibility in the dark. Furthermore, while all of the lume on the dial and hands glows a teal blue color, the small luminous pip on the bezel insert glows green, and this difference in lume color is also something that can be found on the original black and blue versions of Citizen’s BN series diver.
As the new colorful variants added to the Citizen Promaster BN series are functionally identical to the existing models, the ref. BN0162-02X and its two recently-released siblings are powered by the brand’s Eco-Drive Caliber E168 movement. Solar-powered and capable of charging itself with any light source (natural or artificial), the Citizen Cal. E168 is a straightforward time-and-date quartz movement at its heart, and it, therefore, offers proven performance and set-it-and-forget-it functionality. Long-term timekeeping has been more than acceptable when it comes to my personal example, and other than necessary adjustments due to travel, daylight savings, or updating the date display at the end of the month, I never have any reason to unscrew the crown.
Completing the Citizen Promaster Dive ref. BN0162-02X is an extra-long turquoise blue rubber strap that is fitted with a thick unsigned pin buckle that has a brushed gold-tone finish to match the case. The overall shape and form are the same as the other straps fitted to the current BN divers, with accordion-style vents near the lugs and a shape that slightly flares out after the lugs before tapering down to 18mm where it meets the buckle. The polyurethane rubber material itself is harder and more rigid than something like silicone, and it is ultimately rather similar in its texture and flexibility to the resin straps that can be found on many G-Shock models. While they might be a bit long for certain wrists, one additional nice feature about these rubber straps fitted to Citizen’s BN series divers is that they have metal tubes built into them to offer added support for the springbar holes and prevent torsion on the actual springbar itself.
As one of the more understated and traditional divers in Citizen’s lineup, the BN series represents an excellent option for people who are simply looking for a durable and affordable dive watch to wear in their everyday lives. That said, initially only offering it in either black or blue limited some of this model’s versatility, and the increasingly colorful variations that have appeared in more recent years have significantly expanded this collection’s appeal among a wider range of potential buyers. Additionally, with an official retail price of $395 USD, the Citizen Promaster Dive ref. BN0162-02X is also one of the least expensive Citizen dive watches currently available, with the only more affordable options being other BN series divers that have plain stainless steel cases. With its ample water resistance and carefree solar movement, I could easily see someone picking up this gold and turquoise diver as a fun and colorful vacation watch that would look right at home while lounging on the deck of a cruise ship or tropic beach. For more information on the Citizen Promaster Dive ref. BN0162-02X, please visit the brand’s website.