Wednesday, April 2, 2014

CITIZEN Promaster Eco-Drive AQUALAND Titanium Divers Watch JV0055-51E - It sits well on the wrist and is a very capable little dive computer. With its unique shape, it is an excellent conversation starter, A Review

I have yet to have a dive computer as part of my watch collection. Although there are a number of brands offering such a product, I decided to get the Citizen JV0055-51E as it offers a number of firsts for me. Apart from fulfilling my requirement of having a dive computer wristwatch, it is also uses the Eco-Drive technology which is uniquely Citizen. The use of titanium as the base material for the watch was also a reason behind this choice. Coupled with the unique case design, I was sold to this model.

Sourcing this watch was a major undertaking. The current retail price in Malaysia as listed by is RM6,170.00. This is a price that I would not be willing to get.

So I surfed the internet to search for a better source. Via eBay I found this seller, dutyfreeisland based in Hong Kong. A long time eBay member since Nov 21, 2006, it has 99.8% positive feedback. This seller was willing to sell the very model for USD425 with free shipping. This translates to RM1450.13.

Unfortunately, for this price, I would not be getting the standard box that comes with the watch. All else is standard such as the manual and guarantee documents. If I still want the box, I have to add an additional USD25 for it. I could live without the box.

After making the necessary paperwork on 17 February 2014, the watch arrived after a couple of weeks. I was actually surprised to see it come in an envelop. I was initially concerned whether the watch could be damaged during the handling period.

My concerns were unfounded. The seller wrapped the watch in bubble-wrap for protection and provided a cloth bag with the seller's name printed on it. Below is what I got from the envelop, a very thick manual, the international guarantee document and the watch in its cloth bag.

Citizen Promaster Eco-Drive Aqualand Titanium Divers JV0055-51E utilises Citizen's  Eco-Drive technology that uses solar energy to power the watch. It is designed from the bottom up as a professional divers watch that fulfills the ISO6425 international standard. Made out of Titanium with a DLC finish, the watch is light and very resistance to scratches and corrosive power of salt water. The glass is a thick curve mineral crystal glass. This watch has been rated down to 200 meters of water.

This watch comes with a number of complications for divers. It has a current depth display in analog to 100 m on the left of the dial. The same orange hand that shows the depth level also doubles as a reference for the energy storage in the battery when not in the diving mode. The two short bars near 9 o'clock (black and white with a white dot separating them) shows the level of energy available. White mean full, black mean low.

The hour hand is short, white and covered with luminous paint. The longer minutes hand is orange with streak of white and lumed as well. The seconds hand is just a thin black pointer with a white lumed triangle near the end.

Between the 2 o'clock and 4 o'clock position is a large window where the digital information is presented. It is able to show the date; day; dive data such as water depth, temperature as well as logs of dives; world time of 42 cities; and 3 alarms.

The watch has a unique shape. On the left of the casing, it is rounded but on the right of the casing, it is relatively flat. There are four buttons to help manipulate the various modes available in the watch. The two buttons on the right is metallic in design whereas the two buttons on the left are plastic with different colours. The larger tube-like protuberance on the left is the depth sensor. 

There are a lot of information on the dial. To me, it looks a bit busy. Close to the 12 o'clock position is a red LED dot that blinks as part of a dive warning mechanism for the watch.

The watch is made out of titanium. The bracelet is also made out of titanium with some parts wrapped with synthetic rubber. It has an approximate case diameter of 47 mm while its thickness is approximately 15 mm.

Note the DLC paint on the bezel. It gives an impression the watch case and bezel are of two different material. I like the contract it makes.

When I got the watch, I tested all the functionality of the watch and it appears to be working well. However, on closer inspection, I noticed some scratch marks on one side of the bracelet next to a lug. Normally I would sent it back but on this occasion I just accepted it.

Below is the left side profile of the watch where the depth gauge sensor is clearly seen, including the black and yellow pushers.

Below is the right side profile of the watch where you can see the water sensor as well as the two pushers. This water sensor detects the presence of water and would instantaneously switch-on the dive mode on the watch if detected.

The bracelet has a tapering design. At the lugs, it has a 26 mm width which then tapers down to 20 mm at the clasp. The centre links are protected with a layer of artificial rubber.

I really like the way Citizen designed the titanium bracelet. The bridge that connects the two halves are machined from a block of titanium instead of a stamp sheet metal. Citizen also took the effort to sandblast the brand and the type of material used on the bridge. The two level locking mechanism ensures the watch would be secured. 

The screw-down case-back has a lot of information about the watch. The map of the Earth at the centre of the case-back reflects the Promaster line of watches. Interestingly, Citizen has put up a large warning that this watch should only be serviced by an authorised service centre. Users should take heed of this warning. A mistake in handling the service could cause the diving function to malfunction and have serious repercussions when used for diving.

The caliber used in the watch is the U101.

An interesting feature about this watch is the unique divers' extension mechanism built into the clasp. It uses the ratchet-like concept but unlike any I have seen before. I have seen Rolex's, Seiko's and Orient's. The mechanism used in these three brands generally have the ratchet mechanism in the centre. However, for Citizen, it is set at the sides. The release mechanism is also set at the sides. Both sides must be pressed to unlock the mechanism.

Below is a picture of the mechanism before extension.

Below is the mechanism after full extension. It gives an additional inch to the length of the bracelet.

Below is a closeup of the rubber covered centre link of the bracelet. The rubber provides good friction between the bracelet and the skin. My only worry is the possibility of degradation due to time. This photo also shows you how asymmetrical the design of the watch casing.

I must say that the actual weight of the watch of just 104gm belies the size of the watch. I honestly do not feel it on my wrist (this is because I am used to much heavier watches).

Visually, this watch is a beauty. The titanium is darker than any other titanium watch I own. The DLC coating is just sublime. I especially like the way the titanium grey face matches with the titanium casing. The bezel is similar in colour to an aged bronze in some lighting or grey wood in other lighting.

The blue lume is awesome and able to keep its overall luminosity level for a long time.

Programming it is quite simple. I like the way the hands move once you have programmed a new time on the LED window.

Some may argue that for such a size, a 20 mm wide bracelet is not sufficient. A 22 mm or even 24 mm would be a better option. However, if you look at how the watch sits on my wrist (I have a 7.5 inch circumference), the standard bracelet is more than adequate for the job.

This is a professional dive watch/computer. To use it in a formal setting is not possible due to the shape of the watch case.

Overall, I like the watch immensely. It sits well on the wrist and is a very capable little dive computer. With its unique shape, it is an excellent conversation starter.

If you want to see the instruction manual, I have attached it below.

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