Seiko’s SUP896 stands out from most modern dress watches because of its rectangular case and dial. With a classically small case, it certainly bucks the recent trend of oversized watches. The simple, sophisticated design eschews any technological or glitzy touches in favor of an exceedingly simple arrangement. Yes, the main focus for Seiko here was clearly on creating a piece that will compliment formal or semi-formal attire without being a distraction. Let’s dig in and see what else Seiko put into this timepiece.
The SUP986’s dial can be summed up as an elegant dress dial with almost no frills whatsoever. No lume detracts from the classy gold markers and hands. No second hand clutters up the sophisticated design. No date display throws off the balanced layout. Yes, this is a dress watch first and foremost, with an economy of features and all focus on the design. I really appreciate the elegance this brings to this watch, even if it’s not a style I tend to gravitate towards.
Due to the rectangular shape of the dial, the gold stick-shaped hour indices shorten as they approach the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. The gold dauphine hour and minute hands taper to a delicate point at either end. While the hands are fairly small, anything larger would overwhelm the design of the watch, so they make a good fit. Seiko’s proprietary Hardlex material makes up the slightly domed crystal. Small black minute markers circle the outside edge of the dial.
The rectangular dial uses a yellow champagne color that nearly matches the color of the gold hands and markers. Black text reading “Seiko” and “Solar” sit below the 12 o’clock and above 6 o’clock, respectively. With all of the shades of gold and champagne employed here, the black wording makes for a harsh contrast that throws off the subtle color arrangements on the dial. I think a more inconspicuous color for the wording would have been a better choice, although this is a subjective point and I am sure plenty of folks will appreciate the contrast.
Although it makes an unlikely candidate for an everyday use watch, the SUIP896 is rated as water resistant to 50 meters, so it will hold up to short submersions. While classified as a men’s watch, at only 28 millimeters wide it is small enough to make a great option for a women’s watch as well. The narrowness of this watch should make it exceptionally comfortable, as it will stay out of the way of any wrist movements you make. The squarish lugs crop out of the outermost edge of the case and do not extend very far from the case, with a very slight angle at the top edges.
The 8-millimeter thick case features a brushed silver backing, the only non-gold piece of metal on this watch. A gold crown sits at the three o’clock position on the case. The bezel blends in with the rectangular design of the case, standing slightly higher and with a smaller diameter than the rest of the case.
Powered by Seikos’s V115 quartz movement, there should be no concerns about reliability or accuracy on this timepiece. Powered by the sun or any other type of light, the V115 uses a rechargeable power cell that will not need replacing, so it is virtually maintenance-free. With an impressive 12-month power reserve, it will keep working even if you reserve this watch for the very occasional uses.
The band is nothing flashy, but matches the aesthetic of the dial and case perfectly. Made of a brown croco-textured calfskin leather, it uses a gold buckle closure.
The color scheme on this watch would go especially well with a tan or khaki suit. At 20 millimeters wide, the band is nearly as wide as the case itself. Seiko’s brand name is stamped into the lighter-colored interior portion of the strap as well as the buckle.
With no complications or overwrought styling, Seiko’s SUP896 is a very straightforward dress watch. If the small, rectangular shape and gold and brown color theme appeal to you, there is no reason to believe that it will be anything but a dependable and hassle-free dress watch. However, two issues are preventing me from completely loving this watch, however. As I mentioned earlier, the black text on the dial distracts from the gold-and-brown theme of the watch. Secondly, form-over function mentality used on this watch means you cannot even track seconds or see the day or date. I realize that this is generally a good thing on a dress watch, but personally I prefer a little more functionality. Look around a bit and you should be able to find the SUP896 for significantly less than Seiko’s MSRP of $215.