The Citizen Promaster Altichron 2017 Release is hands down one of the best analog watches for the outdoors.
The updated for 2017 Citizen Promaster Altichron is an excellent addition to any sports or outdoor enthusiasts’ watch collections; and with a useful set of features in its movement, represents one of the most streamlined and durable Eco-Drive pieces made by Citizen thus far. With a rugged construction, comfortable strap, and a very readable dial, the Altichron makes for a perfect watch to those looking for a sporty fashion piece; or an outdoor watch, to which Citizen introduces handy altimeter and compass features. Keep in mind my review is of the updated model for 2017, as the Altichron name has already existed in the Citizen line-up, and my focus would be only on the 2017 release model. With a surprisingly light fit, where you wouldn’t expect a watch this thick to wear so comfortably, the Altichron imposes a big presence on the wrist, yet it never feels heavy to become a burden. After owning the watch for about 2 months, here are my impressions of the Citizen Promaster Altichron timepiece and why I think all watch enthusiasts should consider adding this one to their watch collection.
The packaging of the watch wasn’t really worth talking about, as at a $700 CAD price, I wouldn’t expect watches like this to deliver on fancy boxes, so the design is the starting point of discussion. Although it is worth noting that Citizen’s round boxes are a nice touch. The Citizen Altichron offers a nice contrast with its black strap, dial and the rotating bezel against the stainless steel construction of the case. The outside of the dial has a crown, two pushers and what I can assume is the air pressure gauge that allows the watch measure altitude up to 30000 ft, hence the name Altichron. The watch is very practical, and with this timepiece, Citizen have finally nailed a casual sporty look that goes along well with practically any outfit, including a black suit. The case diameter of 46 mm might sound large on paper and is definitely noticeable I will add, however the watch still wears surprisingly light and for some would look smaller than the measures suggest. The Altichron’s design heavily resembles a diving watch, both in terms of readability and depth of the dial, however it doesn’t offer any diver-specific features so those looking for a diving watch need to look elsewhere (Citizen offers some Eco-Drive divers as well). The case is 200 m water-resistant, however, so you can easily swim with it and for minimum diving, it can at least provide a clear time reading.
Additional comfort comes with a polyurethane strap that features a metal clasp, making the watch adjustable to any size of wrist. Even on my small wrist, the watch fits rather well, and the fact that it’s not a steel bracelet saved me the trouble of removing additional links (which i’ve had to do on my Bulova Curv). Unlike with a rubber or silicone band, the material used here is barely noticeable, and at times, I wouldn’t even notice the watch was on my wrist (it’s very very hard not to).With the Altichron’s decent thickness to accommodate 5 hands, it wears surprisingly comfortable, which is largely due to light materials, but also the strap. The said strap can be fully adjusted to preference and wrist size, as some might prefer a slightly loose fit over a tight one, but in technicality, it should fit just about anyone.
The watch dial deserves a separate category, not simply because it looks great and is easily readable, but also with a stellar set of features it offers, there is a lot to discuss here. Many would find the Altichron as absolutely busy, and it is; I’ve seriously never seen so many hands in an analog timepiece, and a deep dial on a watch that’s not even designed for diving. With that said, i never had issues reading the dial, whether in the sunlight or the dark, which says a lot for a watch that features 5 main hands. Perhaps the dial is very clear due to excellent contrast between a black dial and bright white hour/minute/second hands as well as hour indicators. Either way, the 2017’s Altichron can be read clearly anywhere. Citizen have also gone full out with luminous paint, which glows light blue in the dark both on the hour/minute hands, and small markers by the hour indicators, which I find really neat. Surprisingly, one could clearly tell the time in full darkness – that’s how much luminous paint there is, which only serves as an upside to an outdoor-style watch.
To break each of the dial functions down, there is a thin running seconds hand, and two thick hour & minute hands. Below those sits the altimeter function along with the compass, aided by a rotating bezel to display direction. A smaller sub-dial at 9 o’clock measures altitude at up to 32000 ft compared to the main hand’s 9000 ft limitation. The Altichron can also be used as a pilot’s watch to some extent, however again it wasn’t explicitly designed to do so. Then at 3 o’clock there’s the date position, which comes in handy on a busy watch like this, although most Citizen Eco-Drive pieces include that feature. The solid choice of colors the brand has put into the watch really shines, and red compass and altimeter hands are well contrasted against the dark dial, but also against the white time hands. All in all, it is one of the best watch designs I’ve seen, and I personally think it would appeal to all sorts of watch lovers, ranging from casual to even dressy, however most would probably use it as a sporty or outdoors watch.
The Promaster Altichron is powered by Citizen’s Eco-Drive 3290 cal quartz meter. With the company’s signature Eco-Drive technology, which features a solar cell under the dial sapphire to capture small rays of light, which keeps the battery running. In simple words, according to Citizen, wear this watch semi-frequently and you won’t have to replace the battery as often as with other quartz watches or at all. For quartz movements, there isn’t much to talk about, as those are the most common watches available on the market, and most know how it operates. The Altichron is no different aside from the Eco-Drive technology, and I’ll add that Japanese brands especially have almost perfected the quartz technology better than their Swiss counterparts.
The Citizen Altichron features a solid steel caseback, so there is no way to see the movement, but then again it is a $700 watch we are talking about. There is a nice Citizen Eco-Drive logo that takes up most space, which I found to be neat. The caseback is completely sealed to provide that 200m depth resistance, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to open it yourself if the watch ever needs a battery change or repair. With a durable case and high-quality quartz movement, the Altichron is likely to last for many years if not decades, which makes it great for collectors also, however since it’s not a limited edition, would likely not be worth much in the future. However, that is not a downside, and many are bound to enjoy wearing or simply just looking at this watch, as Citizen have gone full-on mainstream in their design, and more simplistic than say the Altichron Cirrus released in 2014 as a limited edition.
- Solid case construction
- Easy to read dial
- Comfortable wear, light fit
- High quality durable Eco-Drive quartz movement
- 200 m water resistance
- Compass feature
Dislikes (I personally found nothing to dislike about this watch, however in my review I account for potential buyers and what they might find as a downside):
- 5 hands make the dial very busy Some might be thrown off by the thickness, however the watch wears very lightly
- 46 mm diameter case wears somewhat large but I haven’t noticed it
- Personally, none
The 2017 Citizen Eco-Drive Promaster Altichron is an excellent watch, with a durable Japanese quartz movement, and a design that would appeal to different kinds of watch enthusiasts. Whether you’re an adventurer or just a casual watch wearer, the Altichron offers the necessary functions for mountain-climbers and hikers, but its design is the main appeal, as the watch goes along nicely with any kind of outfit. Despite the busy dial, it is easily readable, and looks spectacular in the dark with bright luminous hands and hour markers. With a date dial for added measure, Citizen have created an everyday watch that is bound to last for many years to come. If I were to rate it out of 10, I’d give it a solid 9.5, and I can easily recommend this watch to anyone, as the design is very mainstream and at a price around $700, the Citizen Altichron is not a large investment, but it’s an absolutely worthwhile timepiece.
Available at retailers: Hudson’s Bay, Jomashop, Amazon