When discussing vintage Citizen chronographs, there is perhaps no other model that garners as much attention from enthusiasts as the bullhead-style 1973 Chronograph Challenge Timer Tsuno. This classic chronograph’s solid performance, smooth, almost organic design, and unorthodox layout have made it a favorite among classic chronographs from the ‘70s until today. It’s also enjoyed a bit of a cultural renaissance in recent years, thanks to a (slightly anachronistic) star turn on actor Brad Pitt’s wrist in the 2019 Quentin Tarantino film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 2023 marks 50 years since this fan-favorite design appeared on the scene, and Citizen is eager to recapture the magic of this design for a new generation of enthusiasts with its latest release, which reimagines the base design in a bold, hyper-capable modern light. The new limited edition Citizen Promaster Tsuno Chrono 50th Anniversary substantially reinvents the core bullhead chronograph design, but pays tribute to both the vintage and modern sides of the company with one of its most elaborate and feature-heavy modern chronograph offerings.

As a start, the Citizen Promaster Tsuno Chrono 50th Anniversary’s gold-tone stainless steel case is radically different from its ‘70s forebear. At 45mm-wide, this complex design cuts an imposing, muscular figure on the wrist, with a uniquely layered case profile. Rather than the rounded, pebble-like tonneau form of the original Challenge Timer, the Tsuno Chrono 50th Anniversary instead opts for a multi-piece design philosophy. In short, the curving barrel-like inverted lug assembly and caseback form a single unit, while the circular mid-case and black ion-plated bezel instead feel like a traditional round stopwatch that has been mounted atop this base layer. While it’s a markedly different approach than its predecessor, it’s a dynamic design in its own right, with a blend of sharp facets, radially brushed surfaces, and polished highlights that catch the light at nearly any angle. However, this is a design that presents every fraction of its 15.3mm thickness on the wrist, with a case structure that accentuates rather than hides this considerable height. Furthermore, this is surprisingly heavy for a quartz watch, although the on-wrist feel of this solid, boldly sized chunk of metal carries its own sort of brash charm. The Tsuno’s trademark bullhead chronograph pushers make an appearance in brushed black ion plate at 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock flanking the chunky pillbox crown, preserving the most memorable feature of its ‘70s predecessor. There is an additional combination pusher/crown at 5 o’clock for setting and deactivating the alarm complication, but this addition is likely to draw enthusiast criticism for disrupting the overall symmetry of the design. The Promaster Tsuno Chrono 50th Anniversary is both a celebration of the brand’s ‘70s chronographs and its modern sports watch prowess, and Citizen backs this up by rating this case for a surprisingly hefty 200 meters of water resistance.

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For the dial of the Promaster Tsuno Chrono 50th Anniversary, Citizen continues the case’s complex, high-impact visual philosophy. Rather than the original version’s two-register layout (with an implied third subdial at 6 o’clock for the date window), the brand lays out a quartet of subdials at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock. This leaves a raised main dial surface in a distinctive X-pattern, rendered in striking brushed and polished gold. It’s a wild look on the wrist, but surprisingly balanced and symmetrical, with clear, concise chronograph subdials 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock counterweighted by a 3 o’clock running seconds display and a clean, graphic power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock. The Promaster Tsuno Chrono 50th Anniversary is utterly packed with functionality, and as such design elements such as the outer chapter ring have to perform multiple duties – for example, acting as a tachymeter scale, seconds scale, and a mounting point for the thin, floating applied indices. At 4:30 the brand fits an on/off indicator for the daily alarm complication, working in conjunction with the red arrow-tipped central alarm hand. Although enthusiasts are often divided over date windows at 4:30, this watch’s 1:30 date placement is one of the most unorthodox and potentially divisive in recent memory.

Citizen powers the Promaster Tsuno Chrono 50th Anniversary with its hand-assembled in-house Caliber E210 light-powered quartz movement. Featuring a 12-hour meca-quartz chronograph and a daily alarm, the Caliber E210 offers solid functionality, and backs this up with impressive performance. The Eco-Drive light-powered charging system can provide up to eight months of power reserve on a full charge, and offers an impressive accuracy of +15/-15 seconds per month. Citizen has clearly spent considerable attention on the tactile experience of operating this chronograph, and the firm, snappy feel of the pushers is impressive even when matched against traditional cam-lever mechanical chronographs. Likewise, the mechanical-style sweep of the central chronograph seconds hand does add a layer of charisma to the overall presentation, even if it is undercut somewhat by the quartz-style seconds subdial at 3 o’clock.

To complete the design, Citizen fits the Promaster Tsuno Chrono 50th Anniversary with a classic leather deployant strap in deep tobacco brown. There’s a wealth of visual texture and color variations at play with this strap, lending the design a charismatic sense of age right out of the box. However, the deployant clasp itself is on the simplistic side even for this price point, and the integration with the inverted lugs tends to emphasize this case’s sense of bulk on the wrist.

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As Citizen’s most famous vintage chronograph turns 50, the new limited edition Citizen Promaster Tsuno Chrono 50th Anniversary celebrates this milestone not by directly repeating what came before, but by taking the bullhead chronograph design to new frontiers of modern performance and design. Only 3,000 examples of the Citizen Promaster Tsuno Chrono 50th Anniversary will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for this model stands at $1,195 USD as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.

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