I have been a fan of PerpetuaL Watches since 2013. Every watch I’ve handled of theirs always proves to be exceptional value for money and if anyone ever asks for a recommendation for an affordable watch brand to check out they’re one of the first I suggest.
Alex, the brands’ owner, is a refreshingly honest guy to talk to and is the main point of contact for the company. They make rather limited quantities of each model, which sell out pretty fast when they do become available.
It’s been a little while since I reviewed a watch by PerpetuaL, so I was very excited to get my hands on the brand new SC-03 (SC stands for Simple Classic). Just considering the specs alone tell you this is going to be good: enamel dial, thermally blued hands (not painted or chemical which is the norm), sapphire crystal and an ST1701 mechanical movement; all for $180 seems pretty insane.
Let’s check it out.
- Dimensions: 40mm diameter x 12mm height x 48mm lug to lug
- Weight: 84g
- Water resistance rating: 3ATM / 30m
- Movement: Seagull ST1701
- Accuracy: +2.0 sec/day
- Lug width: 20mm
- Warranty: 2 years
- Price: $180 / ~£140
- Buy here: http://www.perpetual-watch.com/SC.html
The video review
The case of the SC-03 is fully polished to a high degree. It looks fantastic, especially with the rounded shape of the case providing an array of reflections – just be careful of the inevitable scratches that come along with a polished case.
I’ll admit, the 40mm diameter is larger than I was expecting (I was probably thinking more like 38mm in size), but in all honesty, it doesn’t wear that large due to the flowering case. When you look at the watch from the bottom lug, you can see it’s bulbous and larger at the top; so even though it’s already a comfortable size at 40mm, it feels smaller on the wrist due to a smaller surface area being in contact with your wrist.
The wide polished bezel may not be for everyone; I know I would have preferred a slightly thinner, more elegant bezel visually (if I was being picky). However, despite this, I do like the ridge which breaks it up and provides different angles of reflections.
The push-pull onion crown provides great grip and is easy to use. It’s the ideal size and features the PerpetuaL logo neatly and deeply engraved on the end.
The lugs are thin and rather traditional in design, especially with the large screw heads either side. Alex explains that he does nothing for decorative purposes; and the screws are real, keeping the strap pin in place. Another thing that I wasn’t expecting or see very often for $180.
The caseback features an exhibition window, which showcases the movement well. Various details and specifics are lightly engraved around it. Interestingly, you can also see how the movement is kept in position, aka the “movement holder”. On cheaper watches, these tend to be plastic and can be a bit unsightly. However, as another example of the quality of the watches by PerpetuaL, only metal holders are used.
The dial material on the SC-03 is enamel. Similar to ceramic, it possesses a beautiful dull, reflective nature to it making the entire watch look luxurious. The colour isn’t a stark, sterile white – but rather a gentle, warm and inviting one; which oozes class and elegance.
The fact that the SC-03 features heat-treated steel hands is quite remarkable for a watch costing $180. If you ever see blue hands on a cheaper watch, they’re most definitely either painted or chemically blued – which you’d expect to be honest, as it’s the cheaper way. First, the hands need to be constructed of steel, and then they’re heated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Heated hands provide a deeper, richer blue which a much more luxurious. As the entire piece of steel is blue through-and-through, rather than just the surface, it appears so much more ingrained within the metal.
The shape of the hands are also more traditional: the hour hand is a spade shape, whilst the minute hand nips in at the middle, to make it look as if it’s been twisted. Very elegant, and the perfect length too.
The subdial at 6 is for the running seconds hand, which is ever so slightly indented into the dial. The seconds track is similarly designed to the main track and is neatly designed and sized.
The printwork is all crisp and fine, the black creating a striking contrast against the white enamel. The style of it is all rather conventional (aka in the style or fashion of a vintage piece, think 20s – 40s era). The font chosen for the numerals are particularly vintage-inspired and stand out; an Art Deco style serif. The double-track around the edge has two rings to it: it’s busy in a classic way which is interesting to the eye and looks the part.
It’s always the same with PerpetuaL Watches – the leather straps are lovely quality for the money. Usually, I’d find the straps on a watch under $200 / £150 to be nothing too special, but here we have lovely soft, thick leather that’s very comfortable to wear. It’s high enough quality for you not to have to replace it until it wears out.
The finish is a dull, matte black, which I prefer to a patent finish and think it works particularly well here. A patent strap would end up making the entire watch far too blingy when alongside a fully polished case and a reflective dial. The contrasting white stitching is thick, sturdy, and compliments the dial.
The butterfly clasp is fully polished and is pretty much the same as you see everywhere. However, I’m particularly impressed by the detailing on the top bar. Yes it’s polished, so it’ll pick up some scratches easily and quickly, but the logo and name are deeply engraved and accurately done so.
The Seagull ST1701 movement powers the PerpetuaL Watch SC-03. Whilst Seagull movements are not quite as highly regarded as Miyotas, I’ve always found them to be perfectly suitable.
The key feature of this movement is the running seconds subdial at 6, and other specs include hand and automatic winding capabilities, a beat rate of 21.6k bph (6 ticks per second). It does not have a hacking second, and if you’re concerned that it doesn’t run at the smoother 28.8k bph rate, then don’t be; the small hand makes it appear a lot smoother.
It’s nice to see that there is a measure of customisation to the movement, with a small sticker added to the rotor. It’s not much, and the movement isn’t the best looking in the world, but at least it’s something.
Another thing to note is that every watch that is sent out is regulated. This movement certainly has been; as it’s coming in at a rather insane +2.0 seconds a day.
Specs-wise, there’s nothing you can knock here. The PerpetuaL Watch SC-03 is a fantastic example of impressive watchmaking at an affordable budget. There’s a reason why they’re always the first I recommend for an affordable watch, and this watch has reaffirmed my thoughts towards the brand.
When you consider what you get: enamel dial, thermally blued hands, sapphire crystal, ST1701 mechanical movement – all for a simply ridiculous $180.
Visually, it may not be for everyone. From a personal perspective, it’s taken some getting used to the wide bezel, plus the general theme is quite vintage which may not be to everyone’s taste. However you feel towards how the watch looks, it doesn’t stop the fact that it’s a staggering watch for the money.