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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Authored by: Onyx_black

My dad bought me this watch at an authorized Citizen dealer (Malaysia)on December 29th, 2008; the reason being my dad’s fault, he took myG-Shock DW6900 for a company trip and not knowing that the gasketresponsible for the watch’s water resistant capabilities is alreadyworn out due to ageing. So he hit the beach and swam in the seawater;to keep long story short, the sea water seeped into the resin case ofthe G-Shock and ‘killed’ it on the spot. Since G-Shock is the onlywatch I had, my dad promised to get me a new one.

At first I settle for the BL5265-21E, but this model wasn't availablefor the Malaysian market; buying it online from Singapore is notfeasible, the watch will be subjected by all sorts of customs clearancefee, duty and customs tax. So we went to this authorized dealer and thePromaster BL5280 caught my eye; the caliber is basically the same asBL5265 but the exterior is different. For instance, the BL5265 hasleather strap, the BL5280 has stainless steel bracelet. Only 3 yearslimited warranty (applicable in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei) forthis watch, unlike the 5 year limited warranty from the States. So far,I’m happy that I picked up this watch.

[i]Note: This is my first review and I sincerely apologies if I didn'tdo a good enough job, quality of my English language not up to mark,grammar or spelling mistakes.[/i]

CITIZEN Promaster

Model number

Official or unofficial Nickname (if any exists)
No nickname.

Overview & specifications


The Citizen Promaster BL5280-61E has everything I need and more; it’sconstructed mainly of Stainless Steel which contributes to its heavyfeel; the Citizen is a Quartz based movement, accuracy shouldn’t be anissue here; it’s a solar powered watch, changing the batteries shouldbe a thing of the past; perpetual calendar ensures no monthlyadjustment of the date wheel till the year 2100 and host of other coolfeatures and functions for geeks like me (no, you don’t have to be ageek to fall for this watch [img] ). Last but not least, the bells and whistles of the BL5280-61E are as follows:

12 & 24 Hour time display
Daily alarm
Date display with perpetual calendar
Eco-Drive<blockquote>Power save feature
Time setting warning feature
Insufficient charging warning feature
Overcharging prevention feature</blockquote>Chronograph (60 minute measurement, 1/20th second units)
Dual time (time difference correction: 1 hour units)
Alarm (24 hour clock, alarm monitor, alarm ON/OFF)
Water resistant 200 meters

Movement information/review
The BL5280-61E is an analog solar-powered watch. The internal workingsof this watch comprise of a Quartz movement, caliber number E812mechanism that ensures accurate time keeping ability, the Quartzstandard. As for its accuracy, the watch runs slower by 0.1 to 0.5seconds, 96 hours after calibration.

During the 0-position correction, I noticed the second and minute handsare not aligned to the markers, slightly off from its correct value.Other hands like function hand, 24-hour hand and hour hand are okay.
I can hear faint “ticking” noise when the second hand operates, youhave to place the watch very close to one of your ears in order to hearit; otherwise the ticking noise is not very pronounce. When thecalendar winds itself at the stroke of midnight you can hear “whirring”noise when the function hand makes 4 revolutions to wind the datewheel, again you have to put the watch near to your ear to hear thenoise. So if you’re one of those people that will pull your hair out atthe sound of ticking second hand (I know my math teacher will), youwon’t have to with this watch.

Speaking of the date wheel, adjusting the date is a little annoying forme; the date wheel is uni-directional, meaning you can only turn thecrown anti-clockwise to advance 1 day on the calendar. Turning thecrown clockwise will not return the date to a day earlier. For instanceif you’re starting from the 1st, the date today is the 31st; you haveto turn the crown anti-clockwise multiple times to reach 31st insteadof turning the crown clockwise to change the date on the date wheelfrom 1st to 31st straightaway. Interesting enough, the Citizen manualmentions that if I turn the crown multiple “clicks” at a short duration(anti-clockwise), the date wheel should be able to wind itselfcontinuously until I stop it manually or the date reaches 31st (and thedate wheel will stop winding itself automatically); I couldn’t makethat happen on my Citizen.

Case review
Brushed and polished stainless steel case. Polished parts include theouter rim of the diving bezel, push buttons and the side of the watchcase, but only 75% of it is polished, remaining 25% is brushed (thepart that’s jutting out is brushed). At approximately 115 grams, thewatch feels solid and heavy.

Right side of the watch: 2 push buttons and a crown.

Left side of the watch: The jutted area (the same location where thecrown is on the right side) is brushed, while the remaining areas arepolished stainless steel.

On the round circular black dial, there are:<blockquote>12 luminous orange color hour markers,
Silver tone luminous hour and minute hands and
A luminous bright orange color second hand. </blockquote>There are three sub-dials:<blockquote>24-hour sub-dial with a tiny white color 24-hour hand [10 o'clock position],
Chronograph minute sub-dial with a tiny white color function hand [2 o'clock position] and
Mode sub-dial with a tiny luminous white color mode hand [6 o'clock position]. </blockquote>

If you look closer, directly underneath the sub-dials is the solar panel. There’s a date window at the 4 o’clock position.

In between the diving bezel and the hour markers, they are a fewwarning indicators such as the alarm ON/OFF monitor, time settingwarning indicator, insufficient charge warning indicator and stoppedstate indicator. Besides that, there’s a compass cardinal dial/markingtoo.

This watch has a screw back case. Among the stuff engraved on the backof this watch: CITIZEN ECO-DRIVE, CITIZEN WATCH CO., W.R.20BAR,ST.STEEL, Case number, Manufacturer’s number etc.

Case size or diameter is 45mm including the crown, 42mm without the crown; thickness is 12-13mm.


Both push buttons don’t feel sluggish or flimsy, they have a firmfeeling to it every time I press them; the crown has an Eco-Drive logoimprinted. The crown presents a problem for some Citizen BL52xx seriesowners; they claimed the crown can be easily rotated unintentionally,causing the watch to change modes without the owner’s knowledge. So farI didn’t encounter the problem described; the watch stays inTimekeeping mode all the time unless I turn the crown manually. Maybesome models didn't have the crown protector, hence the accidental modechange.

Crystal review
If I’m not mistaken, this watch has a scratch resistant mineralcrystal, with no anti-reflective coating. I’m not particularly clearabout the crystal used in this watch; Citizen Hong Kong’s websitedidn’t mention anything about the crystal, while some online watchmerchant claimed it is sapphire crystal. I wouldn’t use a stainlesssteel knife blade to test the crystal; I’ll just assume that it’smineral crystal, I doubt it’s sapphire crystal.

Since the shape of the crystal is flat, I noticed the viewing anglesare generally better than dome shape crystals and less reflection fromlight sources. It’s just my preliminary observation, I could be wronghere.

Bracelet/strap review (including clasp)
The bracelet is made of brushed and polished stainless steel; I preferbrushed touch ups for the whole of the bracelet, polished parts is alittle too bling-ish for my taste.


Furthermore it features a double safety lock three-fold clasp or somemay call it the fold-over push-button deployment clasp. It’s very solidand won’t open itself accidently.


I believe the lug width lies in the range of 12-14mm, as I don’t have aproper lug width measuring tool, I’ll have to rely on my plastic rulerand some crude estimation.

Bad news for modding enthusiast, the stainless steel bracelet isintegrated into the watch case so substituting it to rubber strap, ZULUor NATO style straps proved impossible. Unless you want to trim therubber strap to fit it to the watch case, I never tried it myself soI’m not sure whether it’ll work.

Top side view of the watch/12 o'clock position.

Bottom side view of the watch/6 o'clock position.

Bezel review (if it has a rotating bezel)
Unidirectional diving bezel, rotates anti-clockwise only; there’s a luminous dot at the 0 minute or 12o'clock position.

Markings from the 0th minute to the 15th minute are noticeably closer.It has a slight “tactile feedback” and clicking noise as you turn thebezel anti-clockwise; the bezel markings aligns with the hour minute orsecond markers.
No problems with the bezel so far, though I wish it had a Tachymeter scale instead of a diving scale.

Review of any special features or additionalcomplications (such as power reserve indicators, chronograph functions,moon phase, etc.)

[u]Solar powered Eco-Drive[/u]
The watch has a power reserve about 9 months up to a year depending onconditions. Just expose the watch to light source be it outdoors in theSun or at home daily, the watch should be happy for a good few months.

The power saving feature will kick in once the surrounding gets dark,the second hand will park itself at the 12 o’clock position. Whenthere’s a light source that the watch can detect, the second hand willresume back to its timekeeping duty. When the watch is insufficientcharged, the low charge indicator will come into play. That’s the timeyou need to expose the watch to any bright light source to charge it up.

If the watch reaches a critical stage of charge depletion, all watchfunctions will cease to operate and the second hand parks at the “Stop”indicator; the next time the watch is exposed to light and obtainedsufficient charge it will remind you to set the correct time (basicallythe time set advisory function) because the watch couldn’t keep thecorrect time when there’s not enough charge/power in the first place.

The stopwatch function allows a maximum of 60 minutes recording timeand offers 1/20th second units in measurement. There’s no split timefunction though and the stopwatch function is a single buttonoperation; one push button to start and stop the stopwatch and thatvery same button to reset the stopwatch as well. 60 minutes is a littleshort, still better than nothing.

[u]Daily alarm[/u]
The alarm chimes in a daily basis once you set the time; there’s analarm on/off indicator near the 6:30pm to 7:30pm position so you canmonitor whether you’ve switched on the alarm or not.

I find the alarm sound a tad too soft for my liking, what’s evenstranger is that the first 2 beeps are the loudest, the consecutiveones are much softer than the first two. To be precise, the alarm soundin 2 rapid beeps, followed by a second pause and another unit willsound immediately after the 1 second pause, that one unit still consistof 2 rapid beeps but much softer. Maybe the watch isn’t fully chargedand tries to save some power by reducing the volume of the alarm.There’s no snooze function for this watch if I’m not mistaken.

[u]Dual time[/u]
This will come in handy for people who travel quite a bit (world timefunction will suit you better if you’re a frequent traveler), twoseparately adjustable timekeeping modes will give you the time in twodifferent time zones by switching the mode dial; as for daylight savingtime, you have to adjust it manually.

By the same account you can adjust the time difference between 2 timezones in hourly increments only. I wish there’s a one-touch buttonoperation that enables me to switch the “local time” to current“timekeeping” mode, in other words, upon arrival at say Australia Iwish I could ‘transfer’ the Australian time from the “local time” modeto current “timekeeping” mode (which previously keep tracks ofMalaysian time) and transfer the home country time to the “local time”mode, all at a touch of a button; but that’s not going to happen on theCitizen Promaster.

[u]Perpetual calendar[/u]
Ensures accurate and adjustment free operation of the calendar, all theway to the year 2100. You can adjust the alignment of the date wheel ifthe date doesn’t show up properly at the date window.

[u]24 hour hand[/u]
Let’s you keep track of both 12 hour and 24 hour time format.

[u]200m/20BAR water resistant[/u]
I haven’t test the water resistant capability of this watch yet, but Ibelieve it’s good for day-to-day exposure to water but not like deepsea diving with an oxygen tank strapped to your back.

Lume capabilities
I find the lume of the Citizen very good, not quite Seiko diver’s watchstandard but I’m content with it. The hour and minute hands glowsbrightly and able to last for a very long time; the hour markers arethe weakest, only a strong light source (e.g. Sun light) can put thesehour markers to work in the dark. The hour, minute, second and modehands all have a blue lume color, while the hour markers are green inlume color.


To test how long the lume can last, I charged the lume before bedtimeunder a fluorescent light (I had to lift my watch up very near to thefluorescent light for maximum absorption of light; the fluorescentlight is affixed to the ceiling.) for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, thestarting time was 12:10am. I woke up the next day at 7:30am to find thelume on the hour and minute hands are still glowing albeit faintly. Mybedroom is not pitch black at that moment, my curtains are closed, theSun’s up only a little, the watch remains inside the closet and I’mstanding in front of the closet looking at the watch.

There are a couple of lume shots I’ve posted in another thread, you can have a look at them [url=]here[/url] & [url=]here[/url].Like all watches with luminous paint, the lume starts off strong butfades off quickly. For day-to-day in the dark use, light source don’talways presents itself readily; the lume paint on the Citizen canhandle short duration charge reasonably well, just expose it to a lightsource with a reasonable brightness (even torchlights) for a while andthe lume will present itself in the dark for you to read the time, butdon’t expect it to last for extended periods of time. The general ruleof thumb: the brighter the light source, the longer the lume will last.

Ergonomics/ease of use
The Citizen BL5280-61E can be tricky for first time users, in fact allwatches with E81* caliber are slightly complicated when it comes tosetting the time and date, 0 position adjustment etc. A manual is adefinite must for newbies or you can go to Citizen’s website to view anonline tutorial video or simply download a PDF manual file and view iton your computer. With these tools in hand, you’re good to go.

Closing opinions and recommendations
The Citizen BL5280-61E didn’t disappoint me, but there is still someroom for improvement. I’m no watch collector or watch enthusiast so Ican’t compare the Citizen with other higher end timepiece or anythingthat comes close with Citizen’s standards. But I know I want this watchbecause it has got all the functions I need in a watch sans theTachymeter; there’s a model that best described as “the perfect watch”by my standards, that is the Citizen BL5251-51L. It has everything theBL5280-61E has except the BL5251 is made out of titanium for lighteroverall weight and a Tachymeter scale instead of a compass cardinaldial on the BL5280. Even then (for the BL5251) dark blue dial withblack and white two-tone colors are a little dull.

My dad complained about the weight of the watch, if you’re like him(who wears a Luminox and a Seiko titanium watch) then this watch willneed some getting used to or forgo this watch altogether. For lumefreaks, you can consider the sibling of this watch, the BL5280-61W.Again, it has all the features and function from the BL5280-61E exceptfor the fact that BL5280-61W has a full face lume; to be precise, agreen luminous dial. That should keep most lume fans happy.
All in all, if you interested in a solar watch with solid features setsuch as the chronograph, daily alarm, perpetual calendar, dual time andreasonable lume, you can’t go wrong with Citizen’s BL52xx series. Othermodels that might interest you: BL5250, BL5251, BL5260, BL5265 &BL5300.

Thanks for reading! [img]

Bonus shots & unboxing photos







9 Posts
Nice watch & excellent review... Thank You.

I have the Citizen BL5251 Titanium you mentioned in the review and consider it a comparable time piece.

I really like the orange markers on your watch as well; definetely, a watch that would cause someone like me to take another look.

7 Posts
Hey Librarian5,
After reading your review on 24 Nov 2012 of Seiko SBDX001 Marinemaster Yesterday I purchased it for my brother. And want to tell you that watch is awesome. Thanks for your great review. Now I am thinking to buy watch for myself. After reading your this review I felt Citizen Promaster BL5280-61E is right choice for me. Thanks Once again. I appreciate your work. :great:
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