The Citizen Nighthawk is an affordable pilot watch that has more complications than my previous relationships, well-suited to a professional aviator or a trusty companion in daily life.
While looking extremely tactical and cool, the Citizen Nighthawk is extremely practical. Featuring Citizen’s proprietary Eco-Drive movement, one of their most innovative horological achievements, the Nighthawk is solar-powered and will keep running for hours at a time after it is exposed to light for just a few minutes. Further, the unique slide-rule bezel allows you to perform quick math calculations on the fly, and the watch also has a 24h and GMT complication for additional practicality in day-to-day use.
Overall, the Citizen Promaster Nighthawk has an extremely distinct look, a great movement with a variety of features, and is extremely affordable, often coming in under $250.
- Diameter: 41mm
- Thickness: 12.5mm
- Lug to lug: 46.5mm
- Lug width: 22mm
- Weight: 141g including stainless steel bracelet
- Water Resistance Rating: 200m
- Movement: Citizen Eco-Drive GMT Solar
- Crystal: Mineral
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Case & Finish
The case is rather geometric with sharp and distinct edges that are machine beveled rather accurately. They come to aesthetically pleasing sharp edges on all sides of the case but are smoothed off just enough to not be sharp or irritating to the touch. The watch has a thin polished bezel that does little but emphasizes the nearly all-dial design of the watch. After all, the extremely complicated dial and all of its tools are the stars of the show; not the case.
Little attention has been paid to the overall finish of the watch’s case, with a mediocre brushing across almost its entirety. Oddly, it appears there are just two tiny slivers of polish applied to each tip of the four lugs. You’ll often hear me say I am a fan of the contrast of brushed and polished finishes, and how they complement each other so well. But when 99% of the watch is brushed, I don’t believe this extra bit of polish really adds anything to the design, other than a bit of confusion. Regardless, as a tool watch that I expect to wear often and beat up, I am not extremely bothered by this design choice (or lack thereof). The brushed finish will help mask scratches and dings under most lighting conditions and can be re-brushed with just a brillo pad and a little bit of elbow grease. This finish extends throughout the entirety of the bracelet and has a nice continuity flowing into it from the case.
The watch has two crowns that sit at 3:00 and 8:00 to set the time, and adjust the inner-rotating slide-rule bezel, respectively. One thing I love about these crowns is how large they are, along with their knurled texture that allows for easy gripping and comfortable adjustments. I’d not be opposed to almost literally every tool watch incorporating such functional knurled crowns, as well-executed as they are. The time-setting crown at 3:00 is signed with a logo, a nice little attention to detail, but the slide-rule crown is simply brushed off.
Dial & Design
Considering the dial of the Nighthawk spans across 90% of the watch’s 41.5mm diameter, I’m glad it’s an interesting and pleasing design. The dial is undoubtedly a bit complicated and busy, and may not be everybody’s cup of tea. But if you’re into the militaristic + aviation aesthetic, or just grew up playing lots of Call of Duty or recently, Escape from Tarkov, you might immediately gravitate towards the bold, legible hour markers, chunky white-painted sword hands, or the airplane accented GMT and 24h hands, a mighty cool touch. Speaking of which, the 24h function on the left of the dial is off-center and does make the watch a bit asymmetrical, which might drive one mad, but its counterbalance of the citizen logo, Nighthawk branding, and date wheel on the right is done well.
The slide rule bezel is under the crystal, lifted off the dial, where the chapter ring usually lies, and rotates internally when turning the 8:00 crown. This slide-rule bezel allows you to perform math and distance calculations on the fly/
Overall, the watch is extremely busy, and I enjoy Citizen’s unapologetic design choices that fit well with the function and aesthetic of such an honest and capable aviation watch.
Dimensions, Comfort & Wearability
The watch wears near perfectly on my 7″ wrists, and its lug to lug measurement of 46.5mm just barely hugs either end of my wrist. If the lug to lug was just a little bit longer, this watch may have worn uncomfortably, so those of you with smaller wrists than mine might want to beware that the Nighthawk may or may not be too large for your taste. I can confidently recommend it to anybody with a wrist larger than mine, however. The watch, while solid-feeling, doesn’t feel overly heavy or chunky, and is a joy to wear for long periods of time throughout the day.
A 41.5mm diameter and 12.5mm thickness isn’t obscene, though the watch does wear a bit larger than its dimensions would suggest, thanks to its dial-heavy design, and 22mm lug width and bracelet.
Solid Stainless Steel Stock Bracelet
The Citizen Nighthawk’s included bracelet is one of its surprisingly standout features.
Although the watch’s 22mm lug width and bracelet might seem like it would wear a tad large, on paper, considering the watch’s rather compact diameter, I find the extreme bracelet taper (to 18mm) greatly helps the watch sit comfortably, and balanced near perfectly on the wrist. It’s truly one of the more comfortable all-stainless watches I own.
Take a closer look at the fit and finish of the bracelet itself: the bracelet feels solid throughout and even has solid end links and a well machined, Citizen stamped, push-button deployment clasp that clicks into place and deploys effortlessly. I’m very rarely happy with stock bracelets on watches this affordable, as this is where companies (looking at you, Seiko) will often cut corners to keep production costs, and prices, lower.
Complications & Features
There’s a reason this watch has such a following, and it’s not just because it looks like it came out of a Call of Duty game. Its solar Citizen Eco-Drive GMT movement is extremely robust and is known for the longevity of its power reserve which is able to keep the watch running for up to 6 months on a full charge.
Further, the slide rule is extremely functional. It allows you to calculate various math and distance equations; which might encourage anybody who uses a calculator often enough to pick one up. This slide-rule bezel is intended for aviators to measure distances on the fly, however, I’ve used it to calculate the tips on a bill on a night out.
The watch also has a GMT function to track a 2nd-time zone, and a 24h display to distinguish between AM and PM. All of these features are bolstered by the watch’s extremely capable 200m water resistance rating that competes with many dive watches, which should comfort you when it’s time to take a dip in the pool, so long as you remember to screw down the crown. I’d also suggest avoiding operating the slide-rule bezel while the watch is submerged, or even wet, as the slide-rule crown doesn’t screw down, and operating it when wet may allow water to leak in. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to get your watches pressure tested by a reputable watchmaker before taking it in the water and do so at your own discretion (Chronometer Check is not responsible for water damage to your watch, and other legal jargon… Yadda yadda).
Citizen Nighthawk vs Seiko Flightmaster SNA411
There is one clear competitor to the Citizen Nighthawk; the Seiko Flightmaster. Both are true, professionally-capable aviation pieces with slide rule bezels and more complications than one will likely need (but want for the cool factor) on a daily basis.
Both are extremely reliable and come from reputable Japanese brands. Both come in around $200, feature slide-rule bezels, and extremely technical designs that may appeal to specific watch collectors.
- Better, solid stainless steel bracelet that is brushed and tapers well.
- 24h GMT
- Slightly less busy; each individual complication is more readable and usable.
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Seiko Flightmaster SNA411
- Wears slightly smaller thanks to its bezel
- Bracelet is brushed and polished; not as solid, and doesn’t taper
- Aesthetically busier
- Has more functions, such as a tachymeter, that crowds the dial and makes each individual complication more difficult to use.
- Chronograph function
The Citizen Nighthawk Promaster is a unique-looking and well-designed aviation watch that packs a ton of features, all for under $300. Although the overall design might be a bit too busy for some, those who are into the aesthetic will immediately gravitate towards it and should pick one up.
If you spend some time learning how to use the slide-rule bezel, its functionality will serve you well in your daily life and may give you a break from using certain phone apps that you’ve previously found essential, like the calculator when calculating a tip at a restaurant.
Despite the Nighthawk being around for years, it’s a watch that continues to distinguish itself amongst the large variety of watches on the market, and even others in my ever-growing collection.