This review is also available on my blog [rorb.blogspot.com]. I'm fairly new to wristwatches and the reviewing of such so all form of creative criticism is welcomed
FYI, english is not my native language.
Here’s my new dive watch, a Citizen Promaster 300 m Professional Diver Eco-Drive in titanium. The old one had to go as it quit unexpectedly and without warning – or at least with very short warning since I obviously missed it.
I went without a dive watch for three dives, no big deal since the water in the river (Skellefteälven) may be streaming and cold but isn't particularly deep (lots of bicycles, though). Most of all I was pissed off that my dive watch crapped out (unexpectedly) when I needed it. Besides – battery changes and pressure testing is not cheap and you’ll be without a wristwatch for a week or two.
My new Citizen is an Eco-Drive, fueled by light and never needs a new battery (in just 9 hours of sunlight the watch is fully charged and runs for 6 months without additional charges).
I got the watch on the 2:nd of April (2007), and if the watch would've arrived one day sooner it would've been with me on a dive – but then again the 1:st of April was a weekend. As you can see in this comparison, it is a rather large watch.
Trivia; Poor man’s watch forum has nominated the EcoZilla in the category ”The Best 20 Watches below USD 1'000”, the list is not ranked by rating (”list position is purely historical”).
The 300m model does not have a helium valve, but is ”OK” for use in helium enriched environment according to the manual. Most divers are never exposed to helium enriched environments anyways (pressure chambers/”diving bells”) since those are basically only used for saturation diving (deep sea commercial diving) and has NOTHING to do with the depth rating/water resistance. Helium atoms under high pressure can get into a watch and may eject the glass as the pressure decreases and the helium expands. Helium valves are generally considered a useless function (as for the link, helium is not the smallest atom by the way) and pretty much a marketing ploy by most watch enthusiasts.
Go here to see the inside of the Ecozilla, notice the "NO JEWELS" text.
The case back is simply stunning, the motif is not etched - it is machined into the titanium. In other words you can actually feel the curvature of the dive helmet as you run a finger over it.
For some really nice high-resolution images (such as this one) visit Seiko5ers.com.
The minute hand has an orange outline which gives it nice visibility and clearly sets it apart from the hour hand, helps minimize confusion when subjected to nitrogen narcosis.
As for the hands I really like the chunky style, none of that Mercedes crap which I've grown to despise, but more of a Bell & Ross Aviator-type. The screw down crown is equipped with 3 o-rings and placed at the 9'o clock position for comfort.
All metal parts on the strap are made of titanium. As you can see this buckle is of a modified tang-type, notice the way the strap is looped through the buckle.
Where the pin connects against the buckle there is a small extension which will ensure that the pin won't be going anywhere in a hurry. Just below the "PROMASTER" labeled buckle you'll see a small "stop" on either side.
This "stop" prevents the band holder (or whatever that thingie with the Promaster logo is called) from scratching the buckle. The strap is made of reinforced urethane and not as flexible as an ordinary rubber strap but it feels very tough and is most likely very reliable. Another smart detail is that the end of the strap is slightly wider then the buckle, so unless you angle the strap as it moves through the buckle it won't just slide through.
Before I bought the Eco-Drive I was looking through the different solutions to the battery-problem. Automatics was out of the question; seriously expensive, inaccurate and requiring way more service then any other system (maybe I'm just jealous of those who can afford "nice" watches - then again I am a passionate pragmatic). Seiko has a kind of interesting system they call Kinetic. It utilizes the same basic idea as automatic watches, but instead of storing energy in a spring, the oscillating weight generates electricity to power a quartz movement. This makes a Kinetic watch much more accurate then any automatic. A Kinetic watch has fewer moving parts then an automatic but still requires more extensive service then a solar powered watch. Some Kinetic models also have a history of capacitor problems, which can be quite expensive to fix (or you could attempt to fix it yourself, although something tells me the water resistance may be compromised).
Then there’s Citizen’s Eco-Drive watches. Eco-Drive charges in any kind of light, although sunlight is the most efficient. Unlike the Kinetic’s there are no more moving parts then in any ordinary quartz watch. Light is absorbed through the dial, converted into electricity and stored in the power cell. The second hand will take one step every two seconds to indicate low power, after which the watch will run for roughly 3 days before it stops. If the watch has stopped it will ”quick start” as soon as it is subjected to light and the second hand will move in 1 second step and then a 2 second step within every 3 seconds to indicate that the watch has been "offline" and the time needs to be set. After time has been set the second hand will take 2 second steps to indicate a low charge until the watch is sufficiently charged. I've got to say that the Eco-Drive system works extraordinary well, I've never seen the watch indicate low change since I bought it (I've had this watch for 13 months) and I don't charge it purposely, I just wear it on my wrist.
As you can see the bezel is much higher then the glass which protects it from scratches. Also, the material visible between the ridges of the bezel is not the glass but the inner part of the bezel.
I've been wearing this watch for a while now and it's very rare that the bezel gets moved unintentionally, unlike my previous watches. As I wrote about the Chrono I noted that the bezel did not have a locking mechanism but the Ecozilla has proven that with good design the risk can be minimized. However, I'm pretty sure that the bezel has been knocked a few clicks forward during a dive. The Ecozillas bezel has a smaller diameter then the case, it is protected by the outer ring and has a rounded shape which is very unlikely to get snagged.
However, maneuvering the bezel with a three finger wet glove requires some technique, the fastest way is to place the palm (of your non-Ecozilla hand obviously) over the bezel and rotating it that way.
Unfortunately during a particularly muddy dive some small particles got lodged under the bezel which prevented it from being rotated. Very annoying.
Note the way the strap is connected to the watch, none of that spring bar crap (note the various spelling errors in that link). I've never had a spring bar break, but I think it looks cheap and rather frail. The fit of a band against a spring bar watch must be somewhat loose in order to be wide enough for the spring bar removal tool. There are adapters for the Ecozilla which allows the mounting of standard straps but other then that only Citizen's bands will fit. The mineral glass is curved, non-reflective and 6mm thick. The Professional has a depth rating of 300m/984ft, which makes it suitable for depth greater then 30m/98ft (a watch rated WR200m/656ft is not suitable for dives deeper then 30m), which more often then not means technical diving with mixed air. You're not really thinking straight while breathing compressed air much deeper then 30m/98ft.
The outer ring's main purpose (I suppose) is to protect the bezel from impacts and unintentional manipulation. The ring can be unscrewed to remove dust collected between the outer ring and the bezel.
As you can see there's an o-ring around the bezel against which the titanium ring will seat. The ring is threaded so that it will unscrew clockwise which minimizes the risk of unscrewing a loose ring while rotating the bezel - someone has done their homework.
Update: While diving in -1 degrees Celsius water (30,2 degrees Fahrenheit) the ring around the bezel tends to trap snow and ice which then freezes the bezel in place. Due to the design of the bezel and the lack of any edges to grab from the sides, the bezel can (and most likely will) be rather hard to rotate while wearing thick gloves.
As the ring is screwed against the o-ring (I center "TITANIUM" at 12 o'clock) the effort required to unscrew it is "significant". The outer ring has nothing to do with water resistance by the way.
Since the dial of Eco-Drive watches are designed to let light through to the solar cell these watches barely create a reflection of the sun.
Good to know and quite handy if you've got a pet with the pathological urge to chase down the bloody things. The image illustrates the difference between the Chrono and the Eco-Drive. My camera doesn't really do it justice since it tends to play with the lighting in undesired ways but it proves my point. The watches were held roughly 0,5 meters (1,6 ft) from the wall. Further away and the Ecozillas reflection dissipates and is very hard to photograph, which is in part due to the curved glass since the dial is not reflexive.
Other then the point discussed above I also have a minor reservations. For one, the bezel does not align with the dial (more on this link). Neither does the second hand align perfectly with the dial, although this is fairly common with quartz watches - automatics usually takes a lot more steps then just 60 to go full circle. Other then that the finish and form of the titanium is perfect, very smooth, no tool marks or scratches. Also the watch lacks "Perpetual calender" - in other words the date always goes to 31 so it must be set manually for shorter months.
In Sweden this watch goes for 4100 KR (574 USD) delivered, I got mine for 2561 KR (359 USD) from Crazy Time, brand spankin' new, delivery included. That's 37,5% cheaper. On a side note a battery change and pressure test of my old Citizen cost 315 KR (44 USD) and the battery didn't even last a year. I hate having to rely on batteries, also the watch had to be sent to a Citizen service center which means it won't be back for at least a week.
The EcoZilla is a very tough dive watch albeit with only basic functions but if you're looking for a large titanium dive watch that doesn't require batteries the 'Zilla is not a bad choice - but it's not perfect either. Me, I'll probably sell it and buy a Casio Frogman instead - the lack of calendar is starting to piss me off, why have a date function if it can't keep track of the date?