In the market for a dive watch? If you are, then you already know, that there is almost no end to your options these days. But, what about a classic, some would say an icon? And one that is still relatively affordable. That’s where the Citizen Promaster Fugu comes in, a watch that technically dates back to 1989, and in 2018 was refreshed and in 2021 refreshed again. That brings us to today, and now this 44mm Diver’s watch is available in so many colors and combinations it will make your head spin, a hacking movement, and topped with a sapphire crystal. Is this the left-handed SKX replacement? Are there better options out there? Is it too much fashion and not enough function? All will be discussed here in this review.
As you can see in the specifications above, this Citizen Promaster Fugu was provided by Saltzman’s Watches and you can save 30% by using code WR30 on their website, not just for the Fugu series, but any Citizen watch they currently carry. Another note about this, this black and blue model I am reviewing is not currently available (sold out) but I am told if you want one, just email them and say you saw this review and the code and they will send you an invoice with the discount applied and the watch will ship to you as soon as they are in stock, which should be a week or two from today (9-20-2022). As far as how long the code will work, I am not sure, I will update this article at some point so people that are reading this in the future aren’t trying to use a defunct discount code.
Saltzman’s Watches of Newport
So, let’s get into the review of this Citizen Promaster Fugu already, as I can already hear your groans as you read the preamble here. Anyways, yes, this is the latest version, and when it comes to versions, since doing the video and getting ready to do this article, I have found even more variations of this model when it comes to dial and bezel colors-pretty much it is available in almost any colorway you could imagine, but not all are available at every dealer or retailer. Saltzman’s seems to only have 4 versions, so if you want one that you don’t see, email them and ask if they can get it. But back to this FUGU, why is it called Fugu? Well, I am not sure if that is a nickname given by Citizen or the fans of this watch through the years, but Citizen fully embraces it nowadays, with the Pufferfish etched on the case back as you can see below. Basically, the shape of the bezel cutouts resembles the fins of the deadly fish, and that is where the name comes from.
The design of the Citizen Promaster Fugu has pretty much remained the same since the original, (see pic below) but there have been a few changes over the years, and this new model now has a larger knurled crown, a different handset, and slightly different indices than the original, making it feel like the Fugu we knew back in the day, but also staying fresh for the current market. One big thing is the size, which is now 44mm. I don’t remember what the original was, it was probably in the 40-42mm range back then, but now at 44mm with a lug to lug of 50mm, some folks fear that they will not be able to wear this deadly fish comfortably on their smaller wrist. While my wrist isn’t exactly small at 7.5 inches (19.05cm), you can see it wears smaller than the specs suggest, and hopefully, you can gauge if this will be too large for you.
An Original Citizen Promaster Fugu
This particular example has a black ion-plated case, a dark blue dial with a blue aluminum bezel insert, and the dial is covered with a sapphire crystal, something that the original definitely did not have. While I don’t know the pricing of the original model, I am sure it was nowhere near $600 back in 1989, and I believe the original was quartz, and not automatic, so there is at least a good reason the price has gone up. Like many watches like this that are mass-produced, you should be able to find a good discount (yes we are offering one here, but I mean any place you choose to purchase), so you probably won’t be paying full retail, so the street price is probably around $4-$475, maybe cheaper on certain sales or holidays.
But even at that price, there are a few things to consider. Yes, this watch is marked Diver’s on the dial and is water resistant to 200m, so it is ISO compliant, and with a 120 click bezel, that left the side crown to protect from impact, it is definitely water capable, and more importantly dive capable, if you want to wear this watch as a backup to your dive computer. The case build quality seems pretty good, very solid feeling clicks to the bezel and the crown pretty smooth, though I do find it odd to set the time as I flip it upside down to set the time and date, or in this case the day/date, though I do wonder how long this ion plating will stay looking pristine as pics of the bracelet versions in black IP, do look cheaper to me, and just doesn’t look like plating that will hold up well in the long term. I could be wrong though.
The dial is very glossy, and between that, the reflection of the applied markers and the crystal (which does say it has an inner AR coating), the dial is just extremely reflective, and you can see that in some of the photography and in the video review. The indices on my example are not filled in perfectly with the lume compound either, and it just looks sloppy. Do you notice this when it is on the wrist? Not really, but once you get closer and inspect it, it stands out. The day/date wheels also look a little off. The cut or separation of the two isn’t really pretty, and again, on regular viewing is no big deal, but I am here to inspect it with a fine tooth comb, and when I did, these are things that I found.
The movement has been slightly upgraded though, which is good news for some, but if you were expecting the Miyota 9000 series, you are out of luck. Like you, I would have appreciated this upgrade, but since this is Citizens’ budget realm of watches, this Citizen Promaster Fugu series seems like it will have 8000 movements in some form for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, this is a hacking movement now, in the form of the Miyota 8204, but accuracy has not changed, so look for it to be around +/- 30 seconds a day. You could get it regulated to be better, but that’s where this movement usually hits.
These watches are available on rubber straps or full stainless steel bracelets with solid end links. I don’t have a bracelet to talk about, but it seems to have that cheap-looking clasp Citizen tends to use on some of their lower-end watches, with the exposed push button clasp, and if you get a black IP model, those buttons are not coated either and are just an eyesore to me.
Speaking of eyesores, check out the photo below of the nasty seam where the two pieces of the rubber strap were attached. That is pretty sloppy as well, no way around it. The strap itself is comfortable, it looks good on this piece, reminiscent of the originals, and it fits my wrist with a good amount of strap leftover, but as I have heard from a few, not enough to fit over a wetsuit, so you would need to outfit this with a longer strap or see if there are the dive extender straps for this model available.
Testing lume, I try to do it in a few different ways. For pictures, and for trying to capture it with the camera, I hit it with a UV light, and then proceed to take photos, so yes, the lume will look its best in those photos. But what about 10 minutes later, or 20, or 3 hours? Well, the problem with that and most watches with lume, even ones with amazingly bright lume, is they all begin to fade, and capturing it properly with little to no light is almost impossible. But in day-to-day use, and what your eyes see, the lume is not bad here at all. 5 hours after going to bed I was able to see the time with no problem at all in a pitch black room and generally found that if worn all day, the lume will hold up well for when you need it. How will it fare underwater is a question I can not answer.
Overall, how was my experience with this new Citizen Promaster Fugu, especially with it being so long that I have had a Citizen diver in my hands on my wrist? I generally enjoy it. It’s comfortable on the wrist, the black and blue of this variation is a color I do like, and for some reason, I gravitate towards the dark or blasted grey versions of these divers vs the brushed and polished stainless models. It is an easy watch to use and wear, but when it comes to the finer details, like that date window, the strap seams, the lume on the indices, and of course, the movement, I think I would like to see some improvement, or possibly a lesser price. There are a lot of watches, even divers in this price range, everything from Seiko Turtles (which are not immune to issues either), countless watches from microbrands and even more these days from the strange factory brands and everything in between, so as always, competition is stiff. I think the appeal of these latest versions is all the different colors and options available, and if you can get them at a really good price, could still be worth it.
What say you? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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