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Historically speaking, the legacies of automotive racing and wristwatches are intertwined. From Steve McQueen’s grueling fictional race in the 1971 film LeMans to the real-life exploits of prolific race-car driver Mario Andretti, chronographs and motorsports go together like brightly colored dials and piston pushers. Recently, a newcomer to the watch market, Soldat, announced its inaugural model, which pulls clear cues from the timeless designs seen in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Dubbed the “Promessa,” it is a piece that promises to deliver retro style with all the quality and components of modern watchmaking.

Few watches blend the adrenaline-amped enthusiasm of motorsports with pure, understated style as effortlessly as the Heuer Carrera 1153. Not only is this the de facto 1970s racing chronograph, but it sports a number of unique design features that make it instantly recognizable and appealing to vintage watch enthusiasts. Unfortunately, with any watch that is half a decade old, there are limitations to collectibles that just are not conducive for daily wear. This is where a watch like the Promessa shines — by combining modernity with heritage aesthetics inspired by the Heuer 1153. The moniker itself, Promessa, is derived from the Italian word for “pledge,” which stands as a further testament to the commitment of Soldat to deliver the finest product possible.

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The large tonneau case of the Promessa is crafted in a style that embodies many of the chronographs of yore. Measuring 42mm in diameter and 50mm lug-to-lug, this is a bold piece that maintains a size likely to be comfortable when worn by the vast majority. The 14mm case thickness is consistent with the common expectations of any automatic chronograph (past or present) and provides a nice heft to the watch without being cumbersome.  The dial layout features three subdials at the traditional 3, 6, and 9 placements. However, only the 30-minute and 60-second counters are white in color, which makes them pop against the dial. The 12-hour counter is stealthily printed on the dial at 6 o’clock and features a discrete cutout for the date function.

Providing power to the pushers of the Promessa is the Seiko NE-88 movement. This proven self-winding selection has been around since 2014 and represents one of the few options from Seiko. Nevertheless, many sticklers for quality will be glad to know that this particular powerhouse features a vertical clutch and column-wheel, both of which tend to be held in regard among horological enthusiasts. The utilization of this particular movement tracks with the desire to exclusively use Japanese components, and the solid stainless caseback proudly reads “Made in Japan,” leaving little doubt as to the origin of the timepiece.

The Promessa is available in three different colorways, each with its own novel allure. “Red Comet,” which is truly more of a burgundy, is the most subtle of the trio. The sheen of the crimson is balanced by white accents along the chapter ring, as well as the hands. The matching NATO-style strap features a similarly colored center stripe that ties together with the theme and simultaneously serves as a nod to racing inspiration. “True Blue” features the same sunburst effect, but this time, a bit of orange is added to the hands and tachymeter ring. The 20mm “rally” strap continues the trend with vibrant stitching on blue leather.

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With green becoming the unofficial dial color of 2021, “Green Forty Nine” is a brilliant emerald option consisting of the same contrasting accents as the blue model but with yellow details. The choice of hues integrated into the Promessa models also reflects the racing heritage, as they are each deliberately modeled after a classic car — namely the Ferrari 250 GTO, Lancia Stratos, and Lotus 49. All three chronographs utilize a scratch-resistant, sapphire crystal and are water-resistant to 50m.

Perhaps you are looking for a contemporary timepiece to pair with your classic car, or maybe you just want to recapture the style of the ’70s without traversing the minefield of vintage watch collecting. Either way, the Promessa offers clear entry into that realm. Available exclusively on Soldat’s website, the Red Comet is priced at $1,150 USD, while both True Blue and Green Forty Nine are $1,250.  Effective now, the use of the discount code “ABTW2021” is good for 20% off the cost of a new Promessa. Along with the watch itself, each piece comes with a wooden storage box, an instruction manual, and a one-year warranty. With each example limited to just 100 pieces, now is the perfect time to make a pit stop and pick up your own Promessa.

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