The striking Citizen Nighthawk dial

Citizen Nighthawk Promaster Review

The Citizen Nighthawk Promaster is widely considered to be one of Citizen’s most popular and best-looking watches. The nickname “Nighthawk” actually refers to a whole line of watches that have the writing “Nighthawk” on the dial.

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While we touch on some of these other models at the end of this post, today we are going to review the most iconic models of the Nighthawk line – BJ7000-52E (black) and BJ7000-52L (blue).

This Nighthawk is a part of the Promaster collection, and embodies the definition of a tool watch on the wrist; it sports a distinct eye-catching appearance and a plethora of design elements that make it instantly noticeable, recognizable, and respectable. Having owned several of them, you can be assured that this is one of the best watches under $200 you can buy.

The Legendary Nighthawk | View on Amazon

Citizen Nighthawk Dial

The striking Citizen Nighthawk dial
The striking Citizen Nighthawk dial

The first thing you’ll notice is the striking dial design. You’re instantly met with a sea of information besides just the time.

Just outside of the hour markers (indices), you’ve got the slide rule display that is both on the dial and extends onto the chapter ring itself. You can rotate the chapter ring with a dedicated 8-o’clock crown for in-flight calculations.

On the left hemisphere, you’ve got the most distinctive implementation of a GMT/dual-time analog display. Citizen accomplishes this by using one central hand with two airplane-shaped tips – a red and a white one.

This feature (known as a “complication”) is still relatively unobtrusive to the rest of the dial elements, and sits conservatively in its own section of the dial. The right hemisphere contains a date window at the 3-o’clock position with an elegant white frame.

Lastly, there is a good amount of text adjacent to the date window without being overbearing:

  • CITIZEN – the brand of the watch
  • Eco-Drive – the movement. In this case, solar-powered
  • NIGHTHAWK – the name of the watch, accompanied with the distinctive Promaster Logo that looks like a jet flying up in the air
  • WR 200 – a 200m water resistance, which is indicative of the professional nature of the watch

Citizen Nighthawk Hands

Citizen Nighthawk with Black dial
Citizen Nighthawk with Black dial

The Nighthawk really nails it with the hands – they’re a sword style hand set that boldly and aggressively points to the indices to indicate the time.

If the hands were of any lesser stature, you might misread it, but Citizen rightly makes them very pronounced and loud on purpose. Furthermore, the hands are fairly wide, allowing for a generous application of lume (glow-in-the-dark paint) for good nighttime readability.

The seconds hand is a thin toothpick that becomes an extension of the minute indices – the ticking of the hand allows the Nighthawk to get away with it being so thin. You might hunt for it for half a second, but the tick will give away it’s position. The counterbalance of the seconds hand widens into a spear shape for an aggressive and militaristic aesthetic.

Citizen Nighthawk GMT and Dual-Time Display

The Citizen Nighthawk GMT - pointing at 9am
The Citizen Nighthawk GMT – pointing to 9am

My all-time favorite part of this watch is the GMT/dual-time complication we briefly mentioned in the Dial section. The hands are shaped like little airplanes; one in red, and one in white.

These hands point to a dedicated subdial that’s arranged in a unique orientation; two concentric semicircles: the white going from 0 to 12 (12am to 12pm), and the red going from 12 to 24 (12pm to 12am). These correspond to 24-hour time, or “military time”.

At any point in time, one of the airplanes is pointing at some marker on the dial, and the opposite hand is pointing away. The airplane color will correspond to the color of the subdial that it’s pointing to.

In the photo in this subsection, the white airplane is pointing to the 9 marker, and you will notice that the main time display reads 9 o’clock. This is the beauty of this complication – you can set it to your own time zone to display the time as military time. In this case, it’s 9 am. If it was 9pm, the red hand would be pointing to 21.

Alternatively, you can use it as a GMT/world-time/dual-time feature to track a different time zone somewhere on Earth.

Citizen Nighthawk Movement

The Citizen Nighthawk is powered by the Caliber B877 movement, which is accurate to +/- 15 second per month, or half a second per day.

Citizen Nighthawk Case
Citizen Nighthawk Case

All Nighthawks are powered by Citizen’s ubiquitous Eco-Drive technology. This basically means that the watch is solar-powered, which allows it to be charged by any natural or artificial light (sunlight and light bulbs).

A full charge will give you 6 months of use from full charge to stop. This just means that if you get it fully charged and then place it in a dark drawer, it will keep ticking for a full 6 months! In practice, Eco-Drive will constatnly recharge itself even through miniscule light – charging more energy than it expends.

Citizen Nighthawk Eco-Drive Charging Times
Citizen Nighthawk Eco-Drive Charging Times

You can get a full charge with just 6 hours of direct sunlight or 320 hours of casually wearing it in an ordinary office. As a bonus, you never have to worry about over-charging the Nighthawk, as it’s got built-in protection against this.

Citizen Nighthawk Specs and Dimensions

Model BJ7000-52E (black)
and BJ7000-52L (blue)
MovementEco-Drive Cal. B877
Lug Width22mm
CrystalScratch-Resistant Mineral
Water Resistance200m WR
PriceCheck Price on Amazon
Specs and features | Image Credit: Citizen Watch Co.

Citizen Nighthawk Case and Crystal

Citizen Nighthawk - gnarled signed crown
Citizen Nighthawk – gnarled signed crown

Citizen got a lot of things right with this watch, and the case size and construction are no exception. The Nighthawk is 42mm in diameter and sits very comfortably on the wrist. The dial is the perfect size to show off everything without being too large or too small.

The lug width is a standard 22mm, so it can take all of your 22mm NATO and leather straps. If you’re a rebel like me, you’ll put 20mm straps on it as well if they look good.

The shape of the case is very angular and aggressive, but without detracting from comfort. This gives it a very robust military aesthetic, adding ot the entire design.

Both crowns are gnarled, making them very pleasurable to operate, and the main 3-o’clock crown is signed with the Promaster logo – a nice touch.

The crystal on the Nighthawk is made of a anti-reflective scratch-resistant mineral. Despite this, with a lot of use it is still prone to some scratching; however, this is a design element meant to benefit professional pilots; getting a few scratches on your crystal is better than having scratch-resistant sapphire shards in the cockpit in the event of an accident.

Citizen Nighthawk Slide Rule Chapter Ring

One of the best parts of the Nighthawk is the slide rue chapter ring, controlled by the dedicated crown at the 8-o’clock position. It’s fairly rare to have an interactive watch – usually you’re constrained to turning a uni-directional bezel.

With the Nighthawk, you can spend endless hours turning the chapter ring via the crown – aligning and re-aligning certain markers to change up the aesthetic of the watch as you like.

As a bonus (really, it’s actual purpose), you can use it to perform many calculations including flying time, ground speed, flying distance, fuel consumption rate, and maximum flying hours.

Additionally, you can use it as an actual calculator for multiplication, division, reading ratios, and determining square roots. This video will show you how it works:

Citizen Nighthawk Bracelet

Citizen Nighthawk Bracelet - Impressive Construction
Citizen Nighthawk Bracelet – Impressive Construction

The bracelet on the Citizen Nighthawk is one of the most impressive constructions on a watch under $200. It feels extremely solid and durable, and will certainly last a long time.

The bracelet links are a brushed finish and slightly rounded. It fits snugly between the lugs, and doesn’t feel cheap at all.

One aspect of the lugs and bracelet is that the spring bars are pretty close to the case, so it’s hard to fit a 1.4mm NATO strap through it. Thinner 1.2mm NATOs will have an easier time, otherwise you’re best removing the spring bars, and placing them over the NATO.

Citizen Nighthawk on a 20mm Russian Flag NATO strap
Citizen Nighthawk on a 20mm Russian Flag NATO strap

Conclusion on the Citizen Nighthawk

Citizen Nighthawk Full Kit
Citizen Nighthawk Full Kit

The Nighthawk is one of my favorite watches in my collection. You can’t go wrong with either the blue or black models, although at this time Amazon only carries the black dial version.

For under $200, you get a solid professional pilot’s watch that will hold up for many years. It’s got an Eco-Drive movement and a very distinctive and eye-catching design. I’ve seen people wearing these in public and always consider getting another one. If you’re in the market for one, click here to check one out today.

Citizen Nighthawk | Check Price on Amazon

Other Variants and Models of the Citizen Nighthawk

As of 2021, there are a handful of other models that bear the name “Nighthawk.” While I don’t appreciate them as much as the iconic classic reviewed above, here are those variations:

Citizen Chronograph Nighthawk

The Nighthawk Chronograph is another favorite which features the word “Nighthawk” directly on the dial. This watch takes advantage of the current trend for a stealth-style mission-type blackout watch. Unfortunately this makes it quite a bit less visually eye-catching, and it gives up many of the favorite features found on the original Nighthawk, such as the slide-rule, GMT/dual-time functionality, and the black-and-red aesthetic.

The main feature in common is the case and bracelet – although it does add the increased functionality of a quartz chronograph – useful for measuring elapsed time.

Many owners find that it requires quite a bit more time to study the dial before discerning what time it is, which is not ideal in a flight situation. Readability in those conditions trumps stealth.

On the other hand, this watch evokes a very “Special Operations” component of air missions, like the famous/secret 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment) which, among many missions, famously transported Seal Team 6 to the Bin Laden raid.

The nickname of this regiment is the Night Stalkers, which bears notable resemblance to the Nighthawk moniker. In this sense, it is like a SOAR-themed watch.

Blue Angels Nighthawk

The Blue Angels Nighthawk is a special edition of the classic Nighthawk. This one boasts the aesthetic of the US Navy’s elite flight demonstration squadron – blue and yellow.

This variant is the same as the black dial, but instead of “Nighthawk” on the dial, it reads “Blue Angels.” Furthermore, the color scheme is changed from black and red to yellow and blue and the caseback features the Blue Angels logo/crest.

Finally, this model comes on a blue leather perforated strap, although bracelet variants also exist.

Citizen Nighthawk Flieger

One of Citizen’s newer Nighthawk models (albeit not bearing “Nighthawk” on the dial) is the flieger-style BX1010-11L. Featuring a similar aesthetic to the blue angels theme (blue and yellow color schemes), this world-time watch has a very attractive reflective blue dial and classic styling.

This Nighthawk allows for easy tracking of the time in another city, and extremely legible reading. It features a date window and a 200m water resistance, which is impressive for a pilot’s watch. One downside is that it’s diameter is a bit too large at 44mm.

Typically available on a leather strap, hopefully we can expect more variants of this increasingly-popular model from Citizen, perhaps in black or with a bracelet variation.

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