Have you ever fallen for something instantly and unexpectedly? It’s happened to me with people, places, designs, and, in this case, a watch. Now it might seem strange that my love of this watch was unexpected, since Seiko is one of my absolute favorite brands, but if you had described to me a watch with a red-accented silver dial, 40 mm case with 18 mm wire lugs, and an off-centered 24-hour indicator, I probably would have given you a hard “PASS.” Thankfully instead, I saw it first – and here we are.
Seiko Spirit SCVE003 Review
At 40 mm, the SCVE003’s case is right in my sweet spot for a casual sports watch. The bezel is thick and narrow, giving the watch a handsome profile and nice separation from midcase to face. The caseback features a crystal window, which allows you to peek in and watch the rotor of the 24-jewel 4R37A wind as it spins. The coin-edge crown is unguarded, which looks nice on this circular case. The lugs leave a bit to be desired – they are relatively thick as far as wire lugs go, which gives them an in-between, not quite wire, not quite solid look. And the 18 mm spacing, small for a 40 mm case, doesn’t quite fit with the proportions of the rest of the watch. Despite these misses, the lugs do, however, give you more options than you might think (more on that later). Overall, the watch wears comfortably and I think it looks great.
The dial on this model is a two-layer sandwich, with light brushed silver on the top and red underneath – visible only in the circular 24-hour indicator and as a border around the date window. The top layer is textured with vertical brushing, which will look familiar to those who have seen an old Seiko 6138-8020 in person. This is a good place to note that the SCVE003 is one of eight SCVExxx models, all with the same layout and design but with different case and/or dial accent colors. They all look nice, but none really hit the spot the way the 003 does for me. As easy and obvious as the comparison is to make, the dial’s similarity to the Japanese flag makes this one a vexillologist’s dream and appreciable to who anyone who likes simple, pretty design.
The “rising sun,” in this case, is the 24-hour indicator, which sits above and left of center, showing the time of day with a single hand that travels once around its circle per day. Keep in mind that this isn’t a second time-zone function; it simply repeats the time displayed by the primary hands, so when the center hands are showing 12:00, the small hand will be straight up (midnight) or straight down (noon).
The 24-hour indicator is marked around the outside in 3-hour increments, and those numbers are the only ones on the dial (besides the date). The primary time is marked with applied stick indicators on the hours and long and short painted indices for minutes/seconds and 1/5 seconds, respectively. The bold, steel Seiko logo is applied centrally on the 3:00 side of the dial. The hands are straight and simple, nearly identical in width to the hour markers; this creates a nice, even continuation of design from the center of the hands out to the bezel. The running center seconds hands has no tail and is painted the same bright red as the dial accents. The date window at 6:00 is proportionally sized and internally framed by the bottom layer of the dial; this design makes finding and reading the date very easy without it looking obnoxious or out of place.
Straps and Wearability
Out of the box, the 003 comes with a non-tapered, 18mm, stainless steel bracelet with a locking clasp. Like all bracelets on wire-lugged cases, the end links are flat, leaving gaps between the bracelet and the case. The combination of those gaps and the dis-proportionally small bracelet width make the combo a miss for me. Maybe I’m too used to 20mm bracelets, and maybe I would grow to appreciate the design as is, but first impressions are hard to overcome.
The good news is that those wire lugs actually help us out in fixing the “problem.” Although the gap spacing between the inwardly curved parts of the lugs is only 18 mm, the distance between the straight parts of the lugs is closer to 20mm. And since the lugs are relatively thin, it’s easy to fit a larger 20mm strap in the space and make the watch look even better. I’ve been wearing the watch primarily on a 20mm worn&wound Model 1 strap, and the proportions are perfect. It has also spent some time on a 20mm nylon pull-through strap, and that combo was very pleasing as well.
The watch was comfortable in all the strap and bracelet combinations I tried, so if the size of the 18mm bracelet doesn’t bother you, it’s a great option. And if, like me, 18mm feels too small for you on this watch, it easily accommodates 20mm bands and straps too.
As I noted at the top, I loved this watch immediately. Despite its bracelet issues and bits of bright color I’m usually not drawn to, this one was an instant like. As with almost every Seiko – new and old – the SCVE003 is a true value. They are available on Amazon and Rakuten from a number of vendors, usually between $175 and $225. For a well-designed, automatic sports watch with an in-house movement, that’s a steal. This is a Japanese domestic market only watch, which means 5 years ago you would have had a difficult time sourcing one without getting on a plane to Japan. Today, however, buying from Japan (or from an importer through Amazon) is a piece of cake.
This watch is designed simply and classically, which means it will look good for decades to come. And with the workmanship we’ve come to love and expect from Seiko, the watch will certainly last that long if maintained appropriately. Taking a quick look around Instagram, you’ll see that worn&wound writers aren’t the only watch bloggers to fall for this watch, and after wearing it, you’ll understand why.