Citizen Promaster Altichron Titanium BN4021-02E
A blast from the past, including my first (and hopefully last) experience with servicing the watch
The 2013 Citizen Promaster Altichron - a new beginning for Citizen.
This is the way any normal watch aficionado behaves: while very young he’s attracted by digital and quartz watches. As the years go by he begins to dream of mechanical watches (and Swiss ones)…then, when he starts earning some money, he fulfills his dream of adding one or more luxury watches to his collection. I don’t think I’ve reversed these tendencies but I am beginning to follow two parallel directions: the Swiss school, with its history and tradition of fine and complicated watchmaking, and the Japanese one of advanced technology and electronics.
The Japanese manufactures: quartz or mechanical watches?
But hey... Japanese manufacture is just as good in fine mechanical watchmaking as Swiss manufacture and their achievements just take a look at very fine timepieces such as the Seiko Prospex 1968 Automatic Diver’s Re-creation Limited Edition SLA025 for example, but Japanese technological innovations in the field of electronic and quartz watches give them a clear leadership in this sector.
Citizen, to cite just one important Japanese brand, is one of the largest producers of watches in the world and can boast an endless series of primacies and patents. At Baselworld 2013 they have presented a new series of watches within the Promaster range, called Altichron:
The birth of the Altichron collection.
Altichron is not a new name, and neither is the Promaster family, known to all professional divers and fans of multiple use watches. Launched in the 80s, together with Aqualand and Aerochron, it completed the series of Citizen sports watches:
One of the features of Altichron was its ability to measure pressure and altitude (from -300m to +5000m), extremely useful functions for mountain climbers or simply lovers of the latest technical “gizmos”. Enclosed in the typical case of a Citizen sports watch: the measuring sensor located at 9 o’clock and all the functions at 2, 4, 8 and 10 o’clock, respectively. In 2013 Citizen presents its new Citizen Promaster Altichron, water resistant up to 200 m, with compass and altimeter (without a barometer).
A new design language.
What strikes you immediately is the watch’s design. To describe it as masterful is an oversimplification: though vaguely reminiscent of the first Promaster Altichron it is much more attractive, has a decidedly original look and a wholly original stylistic approach. It is of such high quality that it raises the standards of the Promaster family.And with the complete disappearance of any sort of digital display! It’s a 100% analogic watch! If you look at the dial, the four concentric spheres call to mind another little known but very beautiful watch produced in limited series by A. Dunhill many years ago, the Pentagraph A-Centric (source: Google images):
The style of the Citizen Promaster Altichron however is typically high-tech - aeronautical spheres, open work and colored like the reference scale to ease the reading of such a busy dial. The first level is for the hours, minutes and seconds: in a word, the Citizen Promaster Altichron is a 5 hands watch (actually 6 if you consider the one at 9 o’clock). The dial is a triumph of information: the functions offered by the Citizen Promaster Altichron are many and the logic is complex, in other words this is a computer, to the point that attempting to describe it in a single article would be impossible…the reader would run away. But if you do want to know a bit more about it, bear with me!
The Citizen Promaster Altichron's functions.
MOVEMENT: An Eco-Drive, which means that it charges with natural light by means of a photovoltaic cell placed underneath the dial, according to a specific table that links the period of exposure to light to the duration of the recharge.
The power reserve indicator is at 9 o’clock on a scale divided into four sectors, from 0 to 340 days. If the watch has little charge left (indicator in first sector) the measuring functions are hampered.
ALTIMETER: Activated and deactivated by pressing the button at 8 o’clock, the reading is obtained with three hands; the indications are based on 1000, 100, 2.5m. Thanks to the graduated exterior scale the power reserve dial provides altitudes from 1,000 to 10,000 meters:
COMPASS: First of all the watch must be kept on a horizontal level, as recommended by Citizen! By once again pressing the button at 10 o’clock the operation is reset. Here is a Citizen corporate video demonstrating the measurement operations:
My personal comments.
I’ll stop now, hoping that someone has had the patience to read this far, and try to summarize my experience with the Citizen Promaster Altichron: Citizen has created a watch that is absolutely original, technologically advanced and with an absolutely innovative design. It has the beauty of a mechanical watch but its interior is representative of the best in Japanese technology.
This particular Citizen model is a high-tech “astronaut” instrument-watch, given its generous size, softened by the lightness of titanium, the very soft rubber watch band and the silence of its movement so reminiscent of the total absence of sound transmission in space. Everything works perfectly, to the last detail, but I must confess that I chose it solely for its design and its finish: and there is only one thing I can say about the faceted double barbed buckle, satin finished outside and glossy on the inside…WOW!
What would I improve? With all this perfection only one detail clashes: the numbers on the calendar. The 20th and 21st day, for example, have the first digit in a different character, and amidst all that perfection, it was one thing I just could not understand. As for the rest, as I already wrote in my first article on the Citizen Promaster Altichron (Cirrus) after Baselworld 2013 and that you can read here, Citizen is launching a series of models that are tremendously cool and destined to set the standard for all others!
My first experience with Citizen's After Sales Service.
My Citizen Promaster Altichron is now undergoing maintenance. This is not due to a standard scheduled maintenance program but, rather, because it is not working anymore after being stored in a drawer for months, thus not being exposed to any source of light for a long time. In this regard, I have not read anything about it in the user manual but I have to honestly admit that I have not read it carefully. From what I learned by reading on specialized forums, however, it is commonly agreed that the Altichron, like all the Citizen watches that are equipped with an Eco-Drive movement need to operate under constant exposure to sunlight as much as possible, to prevent the battery from being irreversibly affected.
I look forward to receiving more information from Citizen Italy about the issue (which I reckon it is known and coded) at the end of the repair process. However, I think this is something to take into account when buying a new Citizen Eco-Drive. I hope in the meantime to get my Citizen Promaster Altichron back up-and-running again as soon as possible: the so-called service level (a standard KPI in After Sales) does not seem to be excellent: I consigned my watch on April 16 and after 9 days I have not yet received the repair cost estimate (which is of course an out of warranty cost).
Please Note: Are you interested in other Promaster's reviews? Please read our full hands on review of the new for 2014 Citizen Promaster Aqualand Depth Meter!
(Photo credit: Google; Horbiter's original photo shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter ®
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