Seiko house some attractive pieces in their collection so it might be a tall order to say that the Red Spirit SCVE003 is one of the best looking, but for me personally it’s a wonder to look at. This timepiece is classically Japanese and can be fairly difficult to get your hands on which can make it a bit expensive. The dial is reminiscent of the Japanese flag with a slightly off centre rising sun which is probably why the SCVE003 is more in demand than some of its contemporaries.
Japanese Flag Dial
The dial is unmistakeably based on the Japanese flag. It is encouraging to see that this was done with an air of creativity that gives the piece an edge of class. There is an off centre red sub-dial that has a rising sun appearance due to its position just to the upper left of the watch-hands. The dial is multi-layered and gives off a white appearance due to the carefully brushed stainless steel. The layer below is red which is where we see the red on the sub-dial and the red outline down by the 6 o’clock date window come through. The sub-dial displays a 24-hour version of the main dial time, marked in 3 hour intervals, with a neat little arrow watch-hand. The primary dial on the Spirit SCVE003 has baton hands that are congruent with the black lines used as the hour markers and a red second hand that is in keeping with the rest of the colour scheme contrast. In between the hour indexes we see sub-second and second markers also included for purely aesthetic purposes.
At 3 o’clock is the Seiko name and the ‘Automatic’ movement stamp is just above the date window. It is has not be stacked with needless frills and also has no lume painted on which allows you to genuinely appreciate the piece, you will just have to make sure you use the daytime to do so.
The case is a perfectly round, polished stainless steel and due to the style of the bezel, gives the watch a feeling of more depth. The case is 13.2mm thick which is really noticeable when you are wearing it but I don’t see a concern here because I see it more as a casual or smart wear as opposed to daily formal or dress wear. The case diameter is bang average in size at 40mm and there is a plain coin-edged crown that is relatively flat as to not draw too much attention.
There are wire lugs holding the stainless steel bracelet in place and at 18mm appear small in stature. The fact that the wire lugs leave some room is convenient because it makes finding a strap to fit a bit easier than usual. The stainless steel bracelet suits the look of the Spirit SCVE003 well enough but it is not the most comfortable option and, in my opinion, isn’t the best looking. A vintage black or brown strap would have brought out the classic appearance more.
There is a domed hardlex crystal that gives a pop to the already round appearance of this piece. At the back of the case we get a really good look through the exhibition caseback at the 4R37A automatic movement.
This movement is a family member of the mass-produced 4R3x series and moves at 21,600 bph featuring 24 jewels. There is also hand-winding and hacking functionality which is always a nifty feature to have in any timepiece. The sub-dial doesn’t go as far as being programmable to a second time-zone but the movement still allows for the second dial which adds some extra visual appeal. There is a possibility of losing up to 30 seconds a day as stated by Seiko but from my personal use it hasn’t lost close to that much in a day. The 4R37 also features a 41 hour power reserve.
The Spirit SCVE003 has potential to be one of the more affordable collector’s items. The originality of the design makes it a piece that will be sought after for many years after its manufacture. It also bears the mark of Seiko’s commitment to using the highest quality materials which means that with good care and possibly some maintenance you will have an attractive and hardworking piece decades later. It carries a higher price now due to its scarcity and you will need to search widely for somebody who is willing to part with one. As mentioned this watch is one of a few variations but when I have a look at the other variations they don’t appeal to me nearly as much because their design might not be as timeless. The movement and bracelet are not going to top many lists but these details aside, this timepiece has my vote.