One of my all-time favorite Citizen models is the Promaster Tough, which is essentially an overbuilt field watch that is designed for maximum durability. Originally introduced in 1999 and famously worn by the British woodsman and television host Ray Mears, the Citizen Promaster Tough has existed in the form of a number of different models throughout the years, although it has always maintained a fairly consistent design and a strong emphasis on providing users with a straightforward timepiece that can survive whatever strenuous conditions you can throw at it. Among Citizen’s latest new releases for 2023 is a new generation of the Promaster Tough, and it may have just claimed the top spot as my new favorite current-production Citizen model.

Over the years, the Citizen Promaster Tough has been produced in both titanium and stainless steel, and while the previous version featured a steel case, this latest generation is crafted from Super Titanium, which is the brand’s name for titanium with a proprietary Duratect coating that results in a surface hardness that is five times greater than traditional stainless steel. While the steel case used for the previous generation of the Promaster Tough also offered a Duratect coating, the switch back to titanium reduces the overall weight of the watch, and although Citizen is able to produce Duratect in a variety of different colors, the version applied to the new Citizen Promaster Tough is more or less neutral, and it offers as the same medium gray hue as the sandblasted titanium surfaces that reside below it.

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As for the actual case itself, the overall design is very similar to what can be found on previous versions of the Promaster Tough, which is notably characterized by a front-loading monocoque design that does away with the caseback altogether. This has always been one of my favorite features of the Citizen Promaster Tough, and in addition to offering a stronger, more rigid case design with one less potential point for moisture intrusion, the fact that the watch runs on a solar-powered movement makes it an ideal candidate for this type of single-piece case, as you will have no need to open up the watch in the immediate future due to regularly scheduled battery replacements or routine serving. The top side of the case is fitted with a domed anti-reflective sapphire crystal, and this is surrounded by a simple smooth fixed bezel with a matching sandblasted finish. Meanwhile, a signed crown sits between two large guards at the 3 o’clock location, and it screws down to help provide users with an ample 200 meters of water resistance.

In terms of the dimensions of the new Citizen Promaster Tough, the case measures 41mm in diameter by approximately 46.5mm lug-to-lug, and once you factor in the way that the domed sapphire crystal sticks up above the upper rim of the bezel, the overall height of the watch comes in at 14mm. While this might sound a bit thick (especially for a quartz field watch), the additional girth is needed to provide the Promaster Tough with its generous durability, and due to the monocoque design of the case, the reverse side of the watch is incredibly flat with the lugs further curving downward to help it to sit flush against the wrist.

While I personally would have preferred a slightly smaller case, my only actual quibble with the dimensions of the Citizen Promaster Tough is in regards to the spacing of its lugs. While the case does offer drilled lug holes (a much-appreciated feature), the lugs themselves are set 22mm apart, and this ultimately feels just slightly too wide for its 41mm diameter and fairly compact overall proportions. Due to its smooth and rounded design, the case of the Promaster Tough wears a bit smaller than its on-paper dimensions, and I think a 20mm lug width would have better suited its case, especially if you plan on wearing the watch on a strap without a taper, such as a NATO, single-piece, or a similar style of strap with a pass-through design.

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At the time of writing, Citizen offers the current generation of the Promaster Tough in two different flavors, with the only difference between them being the color of their dials. The first is the version featured here (ref. BN0241-59H), which is fitted with a dark gray dial, while the other (ref. BN0241-59W) offers a slightly more relaxed appearance with a green dial. Aside from the color, the two dials are otherwise identical, and they feature oversized Arabic numeral hour markers, a minute track printed along an angled rehaut, and a date window at the 3 o’clock location. This same overall style of dial was used for the very first Citizen Promaster Tough, and while the previous generation experimented with a more streamlined layout that swapped out the Arabic numerals for baton markers, it’s nice to see the Promaster Tough return to its roots with a more field-watch inspired dial design.

While I personally enjoy the appearance of the dial, I’m sure there will be some folks who might object to the inflated, almost cartoon-like font used for the Arabic numeral hour markers. That said, regardless of your aesthetic preferences, there is absolutely no denying that the font offers an incredibly legible display. In that same spirit, the hands offer distinct profiles to ensure that you don’t accidentally confuse them at a quick glance, and the hour hand receives a large arrow-shaped tip to immediately set it apart from the minute hand. The seconds hand is a simple white needle, while the hour and minute hands are both finished white with black-colored centers, and they feature multiple support structures for the luminous material that fills them. Given that the black sections near the base of the hands aren’t a perfect match for the dark gray color of the dial, I would have probably preferred for the hands to be completely finished white, although this is a very minor nitpick and something that is fairly easy to overlook. As for the lume itself, all twelve of the hour markers plus the two time-telling hands receive a generous application of luminous material, which glows a bright aqua-blue color in the dark.

Powering the Citizen Promaster Tough is the Eco-Drive Caliber E168 solar quartz movement, which is one of the brand’s go-to options for its various three-handed, time-and-date sports models. Like all of Citizen’s modern Eco-Drive movements, the Cal. E168 is capable of charging itself with either natural or artificial light, and once fully charged, it can run for up to six months at a time in total darkness. A proven design that delivers a true drama-free ownership experience, the Eco-Drive Cal. E168 isn’t all that special or exciting from a horological perspective, although it is the ideal movement for a watch like the Citizen Promaster Tough, as it offers superior accuracy and durability compared to a traditional mechanical caliber, while simultaneously benefiting from significantly greater autonomy than a standard quartz movement since it doesn’t require routine battery replacements.

Regardless of dial color, both versions of the new Citizen Promaster Tough are paired with the same Super Titanium bracelet, which slightly tapers from 22mm at the case down to 20mm where it connects to the signed titanium folding clasp. The bracelet is largely in line with what you will find on many other entry-level Citizen models, and while it’s not especially refined or elevated, it is comfortable on the wrist and ultimately provides users with a very serviceable option. Like many watches, the end links of the bracelet slightly stick out past the tips of the lugs to bring the overall lug-to-lug profile of the Promaster Tough up to approximately 51.5mm. However, due to the flat caseback (or rather, the complete lack of a caseback), along with the downward curvature of the lugs themselves, the end links end up wrapping around the sides of the wrist, instead of making the lug-to-lug profile of the middle case seem larger than its on-paper dimensions.

The Citizen Promaster Tough’s bracelet is completely solid, although the three-link design is purely cosmetic and the links themselves are a single piece of metal. Additionally, while the links are held together with a pin and collar setup, the collars reside within the center portion of the links, which makes sizing the bracelet quite a bit easier than the other approach that uses two separate collars, with one placed at either end. The overall design and construction of the Promaster Tough’s bracelet is relatively similar to what can be found on the Citizen Garrison that I previously reviewed, although one major area of improvement is in regards to the design of its clasp. The interior folding sections are now machined, rather than just being stamped pieces of metal, and an additional safety latch has been added to the top, which helps prevent accidental opening should the double push-button release inadvertently be activated while wearing the watch.

I’m objectively a fan of field watches, although I sometimes wish that certain models placed a greater emphasis on water resistance and durability — and that is exactly what the Citizen Promaster Tough does best. In terms of flat-out ruggedness, the Promaster Tough is easily one the brand’s most durable models, although it still offers a fairly traditional size and design, which affords it greater aesthetic versatility compared to similarly robust models that very much have the appearance of chunky, overbuilt tool watches. With an official retail price of $575 USD, the Citizen Promaster Tough costs about a third more than the Super Titanium version of the Garrison, although that extra money does get you a significantly more robust case, along with twice the depth rating and a superior clasp. The concept of the Citizen Promaster Tough has always been appealing to me, and this latest version is very much a worthy successor to a long line of rock-solid timepieces. Despite my minor quibbles, Citizen has pretty much nailed it with this latest generation of the Promaster Tough, and it very well might be my new favorite model among the brand’s remarkably diverse modern catalog. For more information on the Citizen Promaster Tough, please visit the brand’s website.

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