In the microbrand world, there are not a lot of chronographs, especially mechanical. Usually, the cheaper ones come with the Seiko mecha-quartz movements, then we have the middle tier with Sea-gull ST19 mechanical hand-wound movement and for the upper-tier, we have ETA/Valjoux 7750, of course, there are some other movements from small watchmakers that are all in-house, but finally, someone chose to use the Seiko NE88 Automatic chronograph calibre. This is actually the first watch that I have in review with this movement.
The company is called Soldat. Soldat is a new company out of Indonesia and founded by Jesse Prawiro, a watch enthusiast who, like many before him in the micro-brand world, wanted to turn his hobby into a career. Soldat’s first collection I called Promessa, and it consists of three retro-inspired chronographs (blue, red and green), all designed in Switzerland by Studio Divine and manufactured in Japan and powered by Seiko’s NE88 automatic chronograph calibre.
The watch that I chose for Mr Prawiro to send in for review is the green one called “Green Forty Nine” which is a homage to Lotus 49 in the green and yellow colours that raced back in the late sixties. There are also other models called “Red Comet” and “True Blue“. In my opinion, the green one is the best-looking one! In the last year, I seem to have fallen for green watches more and I also think that there isn’t that much of them in the market, even in luxury watch market there are just a couple of them. Also, I should mention that the watches are manufactured in Japan, it has a Japan-made movement, Japan made case and everything. When I asked the owner why did he go with manufacturing the watch in Japan rather than go with the usual suspects like Switzerland, Germany, China, Hong Kong or Singapore? He said that he wanted the best quality and actually, I have to say that the quality is really good, even better than on some Swiss or German made timepieces.
The Green Forty Nine comes in a black-lacquered wooden box, which is really well made actually and gives a nice unboxing experience. Also included inside the box are the instructions manual and a warranty card. The first impressions were that it was bigger than I thought, but I understand that due to chronograph movements the cases tend to be on the thicker side. But in overall I really like the watch, the green sunray effect on the dial is really nice, the CNC on the case is also very well done!
The case of the Green Forty Nine is made of 316L. The case is made in the 70s style with the barrel-like shape. The CNC is amazingly well done on the case. The lines and angles are sharp. The finishing is also really good, the satin-brushed surfaces are smooth and the finishing is consistent. I also really like that the solid stainless steel bezel is polished as it makes the watch pop more. The case is 42mm wide, the thickness is 14mm, from lug to lug it measures at 50mm. The case on the paper sounds big, but on the wrist, the watch wears smaller, the only thing is that it sits high on the wrist, but that is typical for mechanical chronograph at this price range. At 3 o’clock we have a push-pull crown which is signed on top with Soldat logo. At 2 and 4 o’clock, we have a pump pushers for the chronograph functions (start/stop & reset). The crown and pusher action is really good. Pushers push in smooth with that pleasant mechanical “click”. The solid screw-in case back is kept simple with the middle part brushed and the outside polished. In the middle, we have the Soldat logo with some specifications and model number. I wish made this watch with a see-through window as the movement is pretty good to look at as it isn’t just a simple time only movement. On top of the dial, we have a flat sapphire crystal. The water resistance is 5ATM (50m) which is the usual one for chronographs, but just remember, no swimming with this one! Maybe some light rain or handwash, but nothing more!
The sunburst green dial is really amazing looking and they nailed the sunray effect. Usually, the effect is either too much or barely visible, but this one is perfect. It plays with the light so good that some times the dial looks dark green or light green. Around the dial, we have a tachymeter scale in white on a raised dark green chapter ring. For hour markers we have small rectangles that are lumed. At 9 and 3 we have a silver subdials for the chronograph with yellow hands. The one at 9 is 30min counter and the one at is running seconds. We also have a slightly hidden subdial at 6 o’clock with a white hand. Also at 6 o’clock right in the middle, we have a square date window with a silver date wheel. I really like that they kept everything symmetrical. At 12 o’clock we have a Soldat logo. The index shaped hour and minute hands are polished with a white middle part that is lumed. The second’s hand is in yellow colour. The dial overall is very legible in my opinion. It looks busy, but at the same time, everything is very understandable and easy to read. The green sunburst dial with yellow accents I think is one of my favourite colour combos from right now.
Probably the most interesting thing about this watch is the Seiko NE88 automatic chronograph movement. And this movement packs features that watch enthusiasts appreciate like column wheel and vertical clutch. It has 34 jewels, 45h power reserve and it beats at 28800 bpm. This is actually the first time I have this movement in a watch that is in for a review and as I work in a watch service centre, I asked for my watchmakers to open the watch to check out the movement. And actually, it is a pretty good looking movement. I’m actually surprised that more micro brands don’t use this movement, besides the usual suspect’s SeaGull ST19 or the ETA/Valjoux 7750 as in my opinion it stands above the ST19 and very close to 7750. My example runs at about +6 to +8 seconds a day.
The perforated green leather strap is really nice. The top is green with contrasting yellow stitching and the underside is yellow with contrasting green stitching. The perforated leather gives the watch the racing watch look it deserves and also it makes it functional as your wrist breathes when wearing in hot temperatures. The strap is 20mm wide at the lugs and 17mm at the buckle. The stainless steel buckle is finished in brushed and polished finishes. The strap is actually pretty supple and wraps the wrist nicely right out of the box. The watch also wears very comfortably on the wrist.
Overall I really like the watch! This is the third Japan made timepiece besides Seiko and Musha I have reviewed and this one is really close in how it is made and finished to watches like Tudor, Omega or any other entry-level luxury timepiece. I really like the 70s racing era design, the colours (Lotus 49) and the craftsmanship is really good! The price is a bit maybe too much for some, but I understand why it is $1250. As Mr Prawiro explained, he wanted only the best quality watch he could get, he wanted to make something that people would enjoy and wear for many years to come! Is it worth to get? Definitely!
— Stainless Steel
— 42 mm
LUG TO LUG
— 50.18 mm
— 14 mm
— Stainless Steel
— NE 88 Automatic Chronograph
— Hour markers, hour and minute hands
— Made in Japan
— 20 mm