The fan-favorite Citizen Promaster family of sports watches celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2024, and over the past three-and-a-half decades, this varied nameplate has offered both rock-solid capability and some truly avant-garde complications. Amid all these unique offerings, though, it’s difficult to believe that there has never been an automatic GMT timepiece under the Promaster banner. For its first major Promaster release of 2024, Citizen aims to change this, folding its immense success with GMT models in recent years into a rugged and attractive pilot’s watch. The new Citizen Promaster Air Automatic GMT is a fitting kickoff to the brand’s anniversary celebrations, packing “traveler” GMT functionality together with the muscular, function-forward styling fans have come to love from Promaster pilot models to create an athletic, dependable travel watch.

There’s no denying that the Citizen Promaster Air Automatic GMT is a large watch. With a 44.5mm diameter and a considerable 12.7mm-thick profile, this stainless steel case carries a muscular stance in the age of 37mm cases, but on the wrist, it’s impressively well-proportioned. Much of this comes down to the short, sloping angular lug design, but it’s clear that nearly every facet of this case is thoughtfully designed to keep it approachable for smaller wrist sizes. For example, much of the case thickness is dedicated to the engraved stainless steel 24-hour bezel, which is gray-coated to break up the watch’s visual silhouette and finished with a knurled edge that emphasizes the watch’s rugged, function-first character. This tough, utilitarian feel continues through both the square-guarded knurled crowns – the 3 o’clock screw-down crown for standard functionality, and the 8 o’clock crown that operates the internal slide rule bezel. Around back, Citizen fits the Promaster Air Automatic GMT with an engraved solid caseback, featuring a rather simplistic modern fighter pilot’s helmet motif. Surprisingly, Citizen rates this pilot’s watch for a hefty 200 meters of water resistance, making it an ideal one-watch choice for adventurous international travelers.

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Citizen’s pilot watch dials have a history of being dense and feature-packed, but the Promaster Air Automatic GMT counterweights the busy Citizen pilot look with a deftly balanced dial layout and solid proportioning. The outer edge of the dial is a classic Promaster pilot’s watch, with an internal slide rule bezel paired with a complex multi-function scale surrounding the outer minutes scale. Within this ring of complexity, however, the Promaster Air Automatic GMT is a cleaner, more traditionally handsome affair. The main dial surface is deep black with the barest hint of a warm sunburst (the effect is nearly impossible to capture on camera), topped with a medium-gray crosshair pattern for easier orientation at a glance. Likewise, the hands and indices are simple, classic, and geared toward easy legibility. The broad Roman sword handset is paired with a set of beveled wedge-shaped indices accented by applied Arabic numerals at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock. These last elements are intriguingly stylized, with mirror-polished surrounds and vestigial serifs adding personality to an otherwise bold, readable typeface. Citizen keeps its GMT integration low-impact here, with a classic red arrow-tipped hand being the only addition to the base three-hand layout. That said, the use of color here against a largely monochromatic backdrop allows this single element to become a natural focal point. On the other hand, the 3 o’clock date window is a less positive focal point on the wrist. With an unframed presentation and an old-school white date wheel, it’s an element that is sure to rankle some enthusiasts.

Citizen powers the Promaster Air Automatic GMT with its in-house Cal. 9054 automatic GMT movement. While there has been a boom in entry-level automatic GMTs over the past several years, few of these new affordable two-time-zone designs sport the coveted quick-adjust local hours hand. The Cal. 9054 does, however, amid a slew of other desirable specs including a respectable 50-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate and above-average magnetic resistance (although Citizen does not give exact specifications). Through our testing period, the Cal. 9054 averaged a decent if unspectacular +7 seconds per day.

To complete the design, Citizen fits the Promaster Air Automatic GMT with an impressively sculptural stainless steel three-link bracelet. It’s easy to make a three-link bracelet the most generic strap option in watchmaking, but Citizen takes an intriguingly offbeat approach to this one. As a start, the link profile is flowing and almost wing-shaped, with a pronounced bulge at the leading upper surface that gradually tapers towards the flatter lower link surface. The center links joining the bracelet to the case are even more dramatically shaped, with a triangular cross-section that creates a pronounced peak at the midpoint of the link. Add in the crisp linear brushing and the brightly polished accents of the center links, and this is a bracelet that catches the light on the wrist in a striking, unusual way. Even the end links are uniquely sculpted, with a sloping triangular midsection that effectively softens the visual transition between the lugs and the bracelet. By contrast, the two-button stamped clasp is standard entry-level Citizen fare.

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After 35 years and a dizzying array of complications, the dependable Citizen Promaster family finally has an automatic GMT watch to its name, and the results are genuinely worth the wait. With an impressive in-house movement, handsomely athletic design, and an array of genuinely impressive elements at this price point, the new Citizen Promaster Air Automatic GMT is truly a go-anywhere, do-anything travel timepiece with character to spare. The Citizen Promaster Air Automatic GMT is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for this watch stands at $1,125 USD as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Citizen
>Model: Promaster Air Automatic GMT
>Price$1,125 USD (as tested)
>Size: 44.5mm wide, 12.7mm thick
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a go-anywhere, do-anything travel watch for more rugged destinations.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Specs-minded enthusiasts looking for a capable, well-made “travel” GMT without venturing into luxury pricing.
>Best characteristic of watch: Impressive in-house movement, solid case fit and finish, excellent bracelet for the price point.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Unfashionably large dimensions; uninspired case design.

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