Sunday Morning Showdown: Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M Vs. Seiko Prospex SPB143
It’s that time again! There’s no moment to relax for two of our writers on Sunday mornings. As you will all know by now, Fratello team members battle it out in our Sunday Morning Showdown series. In the end, you, our wonderful readers, have the final say on who wins. This week, Daan and Jorg go up against each other, choosing two affordable Japanese dive watches to duke it out. Daan is here to defend the popular Seiko Prospex SPB143. Jorg is taking on the massive task of beating it with the brand new Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M. Let the battle commence!
This week’s face-off is a first for both watches. In the case of the Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M, that is not surprising at all. The watch only recently landed on the European shores. But we were surprised to find out that we haven’t featured the Seiko Prospex SPB143 before in our Sunday Morning Showdown series. The SPB143 was introduced in 2020 and has since made a name as the most popular model in the Prospex series. With the SPB143, Seiko finally introduced a smaller-sized Prospex diver that is a tribute to the brand’s legendary 62MAS. But over time, the watch has seen an increase in very competent competitors. The latest in line to take the throne is the new Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M. Will this super titanium remake of the legendary seventies Citizen diver be able to beat the reigning champ of the affordable divers? Let’s find out!
Previously, on Sunday Morning Showdown…
But first, let’s take a look at last week’s battle of the Tudors. Ben had the difficult task of defending the recently introduced Tudor Ranger against the massively popular and brand-spanking new 39mm Pelagos. In all honesty, it hardly comes as a surprise that the Ranger did not stand a chance against the Pelagos. It ended up being a clear victory, with the Pelagos taking 71% of the votes and the Ranger taking a disappointing 29% of the Fratelli’s votes. It will be interesting to find out whether the Pelagos can match the success of the Black Bay Fifty-Eight over time. But that is for a later time. First, let’s move on to this week’s battle. Gentlemen, take it away!
Jorg: Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M
I have to say I was genuinely excited when I found out that Citizen would introduce their new Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M for the European market. It’s why I featured it in an article on the best new dive watches out there. The watch is an exciting release for a string of different reasons. And after having been able to witness the piece from up close and wear it for a couple of days, my enthusiasm for the new Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M has only increased. Let me try and explain why I think this is such a stellar release and why it is more exciting than Daan’s Seiko Prospex SPB143.
It starts off with the strategy of both brands. Seiko is known to release many retro-inspired divers modeled after past classics. But the pace at which this happens can cause severe Seiko fatigue. One of the most heard criticisms among the Fratelli is the sheer number of releases the brand puts out every year. As a result, the overall excitement is tempered. It’s a problem that is far less prevalent with Citizen. As Fratello’s resident Citizen fan Michael Stockton explained in his introduction article about the Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M, Citizen has not generally been known for putting a lot of effort in reviving its classics. It’s why there is still genuine excitement when the brand taps into its rich history and revives one of its greats from the past.
A remake of the Citizen 62-6198 Challenge Diver
Michael is also the owner of the classic Citizen 62-6198 Challenge Diver that this new Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M is based on. But unlike Seiko, Citizen did not create a redesigned version of its classic. No, the new Promaster is actually a faithful remake of the classic from the 1970s in terms of design. I like the fact that the brand introduced the modern version with the same design as the original. It shows the brand’s belief in its designs from the past.
Another great example is the Promaster Aqualand JP2000-08E that Gerard reviewed recently. Sometimes you don’t need a reimagined version of a classic. After wearing the Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M for some time, I can say that it also goes for the new model. I can honestly say that the design still feels as crisp as it must have felt back in 1977.
What Citizen did do, was update the case. The new Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M features a 41mm Super Titanium case that is 12.3mm thick and water resistant to 200 meters. It makes the new watch 1mm wider compared to the classic Challenge Diver from the seventies. But at 41mm, it is very wearable, and the Super Titanium case makes it an even bigger joy to wear. Super Titanium is the brand’s titanium case material that has undergone Citizen’s proprietary Duratect surface-hardening treatment. As a result, it is five times harder and 40% lighter than stainless steel, but it is also scratch-resistant, luster-prolonging, and hypoallergenic.
The Promaster modern update ticks a lot of boxes
Now I know Daan that many prefer stainless steel over titanium because of its more substantial weight. And usually, I prefer stainless steel as well. But if there is one category of watches where titanium is a great substitute for stainless steel, it is dive watches. It fits the intended purpose of the category with its lower weight, and on top of that, it often makes the watches look cool. And in the case of the Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M, this is no different. I am very grateful that you let me grace the watch with one of your brilliant green cloth straps Daan because the watch looks very cool. The combination of the army green strap with its aged hardware and the dark grey titanium color looks stellar. It’s just one of the options because, just like the SPB143, this one is a strap monster.
In all honesty, the unidirectional bezel of the Citizen is not one of their best. The polished finish of the side feels weird in combination with the brushed case. Additionally, the grip is lackluster at best. I like the bezel insert’s polished finish, as it contrasts nicely with the case. On top of that, it does line up perfectly. An issue that Seiko has not always been able to tackle in recent times. Unfortunately, the SPB143 has been an example of that flaw. I love that with a firm click, the Promaster’s bezel lines up perfectly, bringing a cheeky smile to my face.
Citizen equips this watch with its automatic caliber 9051. This movement operates at 28,800vph and provides approximately 42 hours of power reserve. The movement can withstand magnetic fields of up to 16,000 A/m. In terms of accuracy, Citizen states an accuracy of -10/+20 seconds per day. It makes the movement, in theory, more accurate than the Seiko’s 6R35 used for the SPB143 with its -15/+25 seconds per day. And as some Fratelli already voiced under Nacho’s great review of the Seiko, the accuracy of the SPB143 can be erratic at times. It makes the Citizen’s Miyota movement a possibly more reliable companion as your daily wearer.
This brings me to the price of the Citizen Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M. You can choose a blue-dial version on the bracelet for €750, and the black dial version on the black rubber strap for €650. Compared to the Seiko, that is almost half the price. With the Citizen, you will get a dive watch with an equal amount of retro-inspired charm. I have to say, the fact that it is faithful to the original makes it even better for me. Secondly, you get a modern Super Titanium case that is an absolute joy to wear in both size and weight. When it comes to the movement, the Citizen’s movement is definitely competitive with even better specs than the Seiko’s. Looking at the overall package and the price you have to pay, the Citizen is my pick every time. But please do tell us why you would pick the Seiko Daan!
Daan: Seiko Prospex SPB143
Thanks, Jorg! First of all, I must say I shared your excitement about the Citizen Promaster when it was first announced. And I got even more excited when I heard that we got one in the office for review. But as soon as I picked it up, I immediately felt slightly disappointed. As you described, the case is nicely slender and very light. The aluminum bezel inlay also matches very well with the glossy black dial. But, in the hand, it’s as if you can almost feel why there’s such a big price difference between the Seiko and the Citizen.
Sure, the SPB143 is almost twice as expensive — although I think you can get quite a good deal on this watch if you try a little. But its construction also feels much sturdier and more consistent than that of the Promaster. For example, the combination of polished and brushed parts on the SPB143’s case is very well done. And that bezel is one of the best bezels I’ve seen on a watch. The brushed steel insert beautifully matches the texture of the dial. On top of that, it also has great grip, and its action is so silky smooth. It almost makes you forget about the fact that it doesn’t line up perfectly. But the best part is that the whole thing matches the case design very well. And that’s not something that can be said about the Citizen’s highly polished bezel.
I like big crowns, and I cannot lie
Another weird design flaw on the Promaster, I think, is its crown. It didn’t really stand out to me in pictures. But as soon as I saw the watch in person, that crown looked minuscule. It’s totally out of proportion for the tool watch that it is. It’s almost like you need to grab your tweezers before you can operate it. On the other hand, the SPB143 has a nice big fat crown that sits proudly on the right side of the case. Even the biggest giant with gloves on can still set the time with that thing.
And I really don’t get it. Because when you look at the original version of the Promaster, it too had a big crown on its right flank. It kind of looks like Citizen increased the case size of the watch and forgot to increase the size of the crown. I think this is as impractical as it is inexcusable on a proper diver’s watch.
I salute Seiko’s courage
But I have to agree with you that, apart from the size of that crown, the designers at Citizen have stayed very true to the original watch from the 70’s. And that’s great because the watch still looks very attractive. But I must say I also very much respect the decision of the designers at Seiko that said: “yes, the 62MAS was a great watch, but let’s try and see if we can spice it up a little!”
You can clearly see that the SPB143 was inspired by that legendary Seiko diver. But they’ve totally transformed it into a watch from the current era. And that could’ve gone terribly wrong, but it didn’t! As I said, I love that brushed bezel, and the grey sunburst dial looks so soft. Every time I see it, I try to caress it.
All accuracy aside…
But I have to agree with you, Jorg. If you try to modernize a watch, then its accuracy is certainly something that should be improved upon. Besides, a watch that sells for around €1.000 should have much tighter tolerances than the ones on the Seiko anyway. Tolerances that are sometimes not even being met, based on feedback from our own Fratelli. But there’s nothing a good watchmaker can’t fix because the 6R35 in itself is not a bad movement.
The bottom line is: these are two very similar watches when it comes to their looks and specs. When you put pictures of both watches side by side, it’s very hard to pick a winner. They both have a very classic and very attractive functional diver’s design. But I’m pretty sure that when you see and feel these watches in person, you’ll likely go for the SPB143. The added weight of it might help a little here too. But it just feels more substantial and better built. And I’m sure you’ll prefer the enjoyable experience of its smooth bezel and massive crown over the Citizen’s.
It’s up to you now
So, who are you with!? Would you pick Jorg’s remake of the seventies Promaster? Or would you go for Daan’s modern reinterpretation of the 62MAS? With the similarities in design, this should be as close a matchup. But the materials and price might be a deciding factor in this one. It will be interesting to find out who the winner will be. Let’s bring this one to a vote, and down in the comments, please let us know whose side you’re on and why.