Citizen extended their line of iconic dive watches – the Fugu with 44mm case size, and new features. We had the set of four watches in the Promaster NY011 collection for the best part of 10 days for evaluation and photography. Here is our hands-on review.
The original Promaster NY004 diving watch that was released in 1989. This formed the basis for the re-introduction in 2018 which we covered in detail. The Fugu continued to evolve, and in 2019 to include a steel bracelet. Both earlier variants were 42mm case size.
The back story is quite interesting, as the original Promaster NY004 series were selected for use by the Italian Navy, and the affordable price point made the watches accessible and popular in the general public.
The original NY004 was nicknamed “Fugu”, or Japanese for puffer fish. The distinctive shape of the bezel, which is curved with sharp serrated edges reminded the fans of the puffer fish. And as the fish was notorious in Japan for being a poisonous delicacy, it had a cool vibe, and the name stuck. Citizen took this cue in the re-edition of 2018, and engraved the image of the fish on the case back, acknowledging the fan’s choice.
Citizen Promaster NY011 series – the Fugu
The first Fugu was the NY004, a legendary tool watch. The signature left hand crown at 8 o’clock ensured a protection against knocks as well as comfort for the wearer without the crown digging into the wrist.
For 2020, Citizen has updated the NY008 and NY009 with the NY011. Four colour variants are offered, all on a polyurethane strap. The case is enlarged to 44mm and a few improvements are made to the series. Two with a black dial – one with a bezel with the first 15 minute quarter in red and the rest in blue, and the other in blue 15 minute quarter with a black remainder. A white dial version is also offered with a black bezel. And a full lume dial with a black dial.
The case, dial and hands
In the new Promaster NY011 series, the most prominent change is the case size is enlarged from 42mm to 44mm. The case is in stainless steel and the shape and proportions remain the same. Other than a side by side comparison, it is quite hard to identify the differences.
All signature design elements remain unchanged. The signature bezel with serrated teeth for easy gripping in wet conditions, as well as the new design of the hour markers that was introduced in the Promaster NY008 series in 2018 are retained.
Citizen also took the opportunity to add some features. First is the use of sapphire crystal instead of mineral glass. Sapphire is harder and more resistant to scratches. It resists rough handling better, retaining a clear look at the dial, whereas mineral glass pick up scuffs and scratches over time which can mar the look of the watch. However, mineral glass can be polished when this occurs.
The bezel is also upgraded. The NY011 series bezel is now equipped with 120 clicks as opposed to 60 clicks in previous collections. The feel of the bezel is a more precise, and somewhat smoother, though it retains the positive feedback that one click has moved as well as the earlier models.
The dial layout remains the same, featuring large clear markers and huge hands. The overall effect of the enlarged case and dial/hands makes it even more legible than ever. In the dark, the lume remains superb.
The polyurethane step retains the accordion section which affords it a better grip to the wet suit sleeve when under water. The N.D Limits table is retained to help divers calculate decompression times. The new polyurethane is now softer and touted to be more durable than the previous version. While the earlier generations were rather stiff in our testing, the new straps are larger, and rather more pliable and makes for greater all-day comfort.
Finally, the laser engraving of the “Fugu” is etched deeper in the engraving process, making it more prominent.
One special version is in the rather rare full lume dial. This was seen in the first 1989 edition of the Fugu NY004 and in the 2018 first re-issued, and now again in the NY011. The full lume dial on the NY0119 is promoted by Citizen to be three times brighter than the NY008 version, and is a limited edition of 2,000 pieces, with each piece carrying its own series number on the case-back.
The movement: Citizen 8203
The movement remains unchanged, and is still the proven in-house cal. 8203 movement, have 200m water resistance and be compliant with the ISO 6425 standard for diving watches.
The movement is not finished as with the earlier iterations with zero effort devoted to cosmetic finishing. This original movement is made by robots in the Citizen automated production lines at Miyota. And though is marked “Unadjusted”, performs quite well in our experience, coming to near chronometer specifications in daily use.
We will not reprise the Competitive Landscape section as it is rather the same as what we wrote for the 2018 NY009.
The Fugu has carved out a nice niche in the modestly priced mechanical dive watch genre. It gets the aesthetics right, with Citizen taking care to ensure that finishing of the case, dial, hands, and the straps/bracelet are excellent. From this high level of aesthetic refinement to the build quality, the Fugu range is excellent.
This new NY011 offering provides an option to those looking for a larger case size. The movement, though is rather raw in the finishing department, is a proven mechanism which is robust and able to withstand the daily abuse of a tool watch. And at S$555 (or S$631 for the limited edition Luminous Dial version), it still represents an excellent value competing at a very modest price point.
Photo notes: Photographed with the Fujifilm GFX100, with the GF120 macro, and GF50. With and without extension tubes.