The Citizen Promaster Aqualand JP2000-8E
Icon by Horbiter®
In 1994 I was 20, I was in my second year of Engineering, I had a Japanese tuned scooter (some of my mates, lucky them, had a motorcycle), and at the same time a diver's sport watch with an asymmetrical case and a strange protrusion on its left side was becoming all the rage in Italy: it was the Citizen Promaster Aqualand JP2000-8E.
Even if I was studying engineering and technical subjects on a daily basis, at the time I never asked myself what that bump had to do with the watch itself; I was just eager to own one as it truly was one of the coolest accessories among teenagers, especially the older ones, so I decided to wrap one around my wrist too. I bought one, used it, abused it, and it even survived a small accident with a friend's bike and then one day, all of sudden as it is often the case with something you just buy as a fashion item, I placed it into a drawer and lost track of it for good.
Twenty years later, an engineering degree in my pocket, I have a collection of timepieces, I run a watch blog and I have decided to introduce a new column called “Icon by Horbiter”, by talking about the Citizen Promaster Aqualand JP2000-8E. You might argue I'm a bit of a romantic and I will accept any criticism, but I do think this timepiece really is an icon, or at least a sport icon. Any diver, skipper, athlete peer out there has owned an Aqualand, or is aware of what an Aqualand is.
The most accessible ISO certified diver's watch.
I am especially addressing divers, as the Citizen Promaster Aqualand JP2000-8E is not an everyday common water resistant timepiece but merely an ISO 6425 compliant wristwatch. I often underlined on the pages of the magazine what the difference between a WR watch and an ISO certified one is, and I will never get tired of talking about the huge difference between the two, as I think it is one of those topics on which it is necessary to spend a bit more time.
A timepiece that features such a certification (you might easily check it by reading the writing “diver's” on the dial even if this wording is sometimes not present) has passed a long series of rigorous tests such as, just as an example, an immersion in salted water at 1,25 times the rated pressure, just to mention one. The requirements any timepiece has to be submitted to are so varied and so tough (please find HERE a summary of the test criteria) that even if you will never get to exploit its full potential, the result is a watch much more robust and reliable than a traditional timepiece and this, in the long run, is what counts.
Not to be compared to a modern Promaster.
Finishing touches are not high end if you compare it with a newly designed Citizen, it cannot be compared to a Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive Professional Diver 1000 BN7020-09E or a Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive Aqualand Depth Meter BN2024-05E in terms of performance and size: the Citizen Promaster Aqualand JP2000-8E is unchanged since it hit the market in 1985 and this perhaps the reason why it is an icon. If you're looking for state-of-the-art watchmaking and refinement it cannot compete with a Citizen Promaster Altichron Titanium too.
All those functions that Citizen has today turned analogic on a Depth Meter by providing a multi-level dial, were at the time partially displayed, as it was with the very first Altichron or Aerochron, on a small LCD display placed at 12 as it still is for example with a Citizen Promaster Super Sport JW0111-55E. Analog visualization is a matter of design as well as a functional choice, as information can be easily interpreted at a glance.
Big but not Huge.
The 44mm wide case (which looks smaller, given the reduced thickness) is made of stainless steel, while at first sight, due to its satin finish, it may look as if it’s made of sandblasted titanium. It features a 60 notch bezel and adopts quartz caliber C520, an analog-digital caliber with a sensore, widely replaced all across the Promaster range by the Eco-Drive technology.
Caliber Citizen C520.
This caliber supports a wide range of functions: a full calendar, a 1/100 of a second chronograph, an almost endless series of options to track your diving experience and memorize it. If you're eager to use them all, this is one of those cases where the instruction booklet doesn’t have to be thrown away, but read attentively. Among the diving data that this calber is able to save, there are: Month and day of diving session, number of diving sessions (from 1 to 4), maximum depth reached (from 1 to 80 meters) with increments of 10 cm. Duration of immersion. Dive start time (hour, minute), end dive time (hour, minute). All in all, it's a small computer on your wrist, but it's a timepiece that is easy to use and understand in comparison to some current Citizen Promaster.
Price and availability.
It retails for 398€, but you may easily find it on the so-called “grey market” at a cheaper price. However if you prefer to buy it at your nearest authorized retailer, such as in my case, it is hard to pick it up at less than 350€. The Citizen Promaster Aqualand JP2000-8E is becoming rare as time passes by, at least through the official retailers and it is not sold everywhere: Italy is one of the leading markets while, if I'm not mistaken, it is not officially marketed in the US as it does not even appear on the US website. It is also true that the American customers are different from the European ones and that the Italian ones especially have a few heroes, the Aqualand being with no doubt one of them.
It is hard to say whether or not it will be a collector's watch. However I'm quite sure that if Citizen would phase it out all of a sudden, its price on the second-hand market would immediately rise. I'm still looking for the original version, with gold accents on bezel, crown and sensore, that I had and then lost, so I'm currently looking for a NOS on Ebay.
(Photo credit: Google; Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter®