Citizen Promaster Tough Titanium vs. Hamilton Expedition


Why the Citizen Promaster Tough Titanium? In my last post, I pronounced the new mechanical Hamilton Khaki Field Expedition over-priced ($1k and up) and unsuitable for its stated case use (outdoor activities). I concluded that it’s a Rolex Explorer wannabe. Which is no bad thing in and of itself. But the $575 Citizen is better.

Start with this: if you’re going into the great outdoors for realz, not getting lost is your first priority. Neither of these watches will help you there. G-SHOCK’s GPRB1000 Series lets you know where you are, how you got there and how to get back, or McDonald’s.

Alternatively, pop a $299 Garmin inReach® Messenger in your pocket. You can text with your loved ones or emergency services via satellite anywhere on the planet. It automatically sends your GPS coordinates to the receiver and yes, it tells you the local time.

If you’re not going off the grid, headed out to commune with nature (preferably via off-road motorcycle) and you have a cell phone, you can wear any watch you damn well please, of course. The two major threats to your timepiece: collisions with solid objects and water.

The Hamilton has a Nivachron balance spring; it’s more resistant to magnetism and temperature variations than nickel-steel alloy springs. More importantly, Nivachron is also more resistant to shocks than your horological standard fare.

Not tested or advertised as “shock proof,” but better than most mechanical watches at a lower price point. So there is that.

You may notice that the Citizen Promaster Tough Titanium has crown guards. The Expedition does not. That’s a big diff in terms of catching your watch’s stem on, uh, anything.

Anyway, the Hamilton is mechanical. On the positive side, it’s an automatic; as long as you keep moving, you don’t have to worry about running out of power. On the negative side, the Expedition has little bits of steel doing a ballet. That eventually, inevitably, wear out.

As for water resistance, the Hamilton added a screw down crown to their standard Khaki Field watch, increasing the Expedition’s water resistance to 100m (from 50mm over the standard Field Khaki). That makes it good for swimming, snorkeling and other surface water sports – as long as you don’t you don’t submerge it deeper than 1m (3ft).

Which you probably wouldn’t. Or would you? If so, the Citizen Promaster Tough Titantium offers twice the water resistance: 200mm. This adds recreational diving down to 40m (130ft).

More than that, diving into water from a diving board or a Mexican cliff stresses a watch’s seals and ratchets up case pressure. Screw-down crown or not, anyone high diving with a Hamilton Expedition is a fool. With the Citizen, not so much.

The Citizen’s Promaster Tough Titanium’s E168 movement is powered by any light source, no battery replacement required. In terms of toughness, the Citizen has a one-piece case (three-piece Promaster ammo case above).

The Hamilton Expedition is a two-piece case design, with a separate case back and bezel. As you might imagine, a one-piece case design is more durable (and water-resistant) than two-piece case designs.

By the same token, the Citizen’s case is made of Super Titanium – five times harder than the Hamilton’s stainless steel. And significantly lighter. The 41mm Hamilton weighs-in at 142 grams. The 41mm Citizen Promaster Tough Titanium tips the scales at 108 grams.

The Promaster Tough Titanium is cheaper, tougher, more water resistant, lighter and inconsequentially more accurate (+/- 5 seconds per year vs. +/- 10 seconds per year).

B-b-b-b-ut the Hamilton’s mechanical! You can see the movement under the caseback! It’s nowhere near as boring as the Citizen’s plain Jane caseback! All I’ve got to say about that is awesome! And that is one very low bar, ass-thetically speaking.

But really, the dial’s the thing to capture the cash of the king (that’s you).

Setting aside the Hamilton’s silly compass bezel, the Expedition is, as previously stated, as its name implies, a Rolex Explorer wannabe. In that, it’s a fail. The Rolex is a Rolex, and the Explorer’s dial is iconic.

The Hamilton’s dial is, how do I put this? BORING. Legible AF. But ditchwater dull. Timex Easy Reader dull? Just about.

Don’t get me wrong: the Citizen Promaster Tough Titanium’s dial is no minimalist masterpiece. But it’s got some Tonka Toy Kindergarten cool to it. And illuminated numbers! Do I prefer the Citzen’s thick, triple-segmented hands over the Hamilton’s smaller, pointier units? If I’m trying to tell the time in the dark, you betcha! (Ask any woman: girth matters.)

Truth be told: the Citizen’s dial looks crowded and inelegant in comparison. But there’s an over-sized “fuck you” toughness to the Tough that says “take me outdoors!” a lot more convincingly to its Swiss competitor.

I guess it comes down to this: are you really going to take your Expedition on an expedition? If you want a no-frills classy watch to wear around town – a Swiss mechanical timepiece! – the pricey Hammy takes it walking away.

If you want a genuine tool watch whose utility beats even the Rolex, for less than the sales tax on an Explorer and half the price of the Hamilton, the Citizen Promaster Tough Titanium is your Huckleberry.

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