So much of what we find appealing about watches goes beyond the case dimensions, the movement, the crystal, bracelet or strap, and into the details of the watch. It is the details that matter to watch lovers, things like the hands, lume colour, depth of the dial vs. the thickness of the crystal, the on-wrist weight of the watch. Is the movement noisy? If the watch has multiple functions, are they simple to access and easy to read? Details, are what makes a watch unique, complete, and set it apart in the market. Unlike functions, caliber, or finish, details are what a lot of us pay for when buying a new watch.
The Citizen Promaster SST is a watch with interesting details. Yet another ana-digi watch from Citizen, this one is designed as something of a race watch, capable of measuring split seconds and with an aesthetic clearly lifted from the instrument cluster of a sports car. The feature list is beyond standard as the SST has several cool tricks up its sleeve:
•Stainless steel case with black ion plating (available in Ti).
•Water resistant to 200m (660ft).
•Non-reflective synthetic sapphire crystal.
•1/1000th second chronograph (24hr max).
•Red backlit LCD.
•Average Speed Calculation.
•99-minute countdown timer.
•Rotating slide rule.
•Screw back case.
•Solid stainless steel bracelet with inset push button fold over clasp.
•Movement: U700 Eco-Drive.
•7 Year Power Reserve.
This is a large watch; it measures in at 47.5 mm including the crown, but rides tight to the wrist at 13 mm thick. With such a considerable width this is a watch you will not soon forget; its ironclad grip on your wrist is a constant reminder that you are wearing something considerable. The case is large and the chronograph buttons are angular like the paddles on a pinball table. At the hinge for each button is a very cool looking hex bolt. The mode button is located at 8 o’clock and pressing it will cycle through all of the watches functions. Using the functions is as easy as using a chronograph. The crown is not used for standard time setting; it is actually used to change the main settings of any feature. Even though there are only four buttons (including the crown), the SST is very easy to use and the controls feel intuitive after only a few minutes. The large main hands make reading the time simple and the companion LCD gives you instant access to additional information like supplementary time zones, chrono values, and alarm settings. The LCD is very high contrast, making it unusually easy to read. The inclusion of an awesome red back-light makes the screen usable at any time by simply holding down the top chrono pusher.
Many of the SST’s details are in the dial; the three-register counter that takes up the most of the upper half of the dial is an original design and its automotive aesthetic is very clean and purposeful. The left dial counts whole seconds while the right dial measures 24hr time. The center dial houses two hands: one measures 1/100th seconds, the other 1/10th. Both hands spin at the same time once the chronograph is activated. The 1/100th hand becomes a red blur that obscures the travel of the other hand. The ability to measure in 1/1000th seconds may not be of daily use, but the feature is a good example of attention to detail, and an indication of passionate watch design. This is a very well-planned watch as it heralds evidence of many years of experience making watches that the everyday man (or woman) wears. Citizen is good at the details, and they didn’t miss a beat on the Promaster SST.
The bracelet on the Citizen Promaster SST is chunky, heavy, and solid in every way. It is well made, fits together well, and is pleasing in both shine and feel on your wrist. The clasp is solid with little to no wiggle and the push button activation is sharp and built well. The bracelet on the SST has only one flaw: it is very heavy. Fortunately, for people as weak wristed as myself, Citizen has also made a titanium version.
I have had a series of Citizen watches, and I have liked most of them. Of the ones that fell thorough the cracks, it was always clear that Citizen had just ignored the details and followed the cookie cutter mold of watch making. But the SST shows that there is still some (good) lunacy at Citizen. The watch is huge, and unlike anything else on the market. Its chronograph is accurate to 1/1000th of a second (1/100th is displayed on an analogue register) while still allowing for 24hr total timing. In this situation, crazy is good. It keeps companies away from boring, cookie cutter watches that we have all seen before. It keeps them creative and focusing on the passion found in the details. Like the difference between a Toyota and a Lamborghini, both are cars capable of travel, but one exhibits a passion and flare for more then just travel. The SST is not a perfect watch, but it is a passionate watch, built for people who are passionate about watches — not just about checking the time, or wearing a recognizable brand.
The Citizen SST is a great looking upper mid-level quartz chronograph with a laundry list of features and a very unique and bold aesthetic. It is a multifunction watch that was designed for daily use, its features and functions simple in their application. This watch has some spirit, something intangible that made it fun to wear. Citizen lists this watch at $850 but it can be found for less then $700 online. For that price, you get a watch that is unique, well built, and designed around the details.