Seiko Prospex SBDQ003 Scuba 200m review

div-sbdq003 

Watch History

  • Date acquired: Mar 4 2005
  • Production date: Mar 2002
  • Source: Hang Thai Watch
  • Price paid: MYR1,248 (USD372)
  • Status: In production

 

Background

It may interest you to know that Seiko doesn’t make automatic diver’s watches with a chronograph function. I’m not sure why the Japanese watch giant chose not to when several Swiss watch manufacturers like Oris and Bell & Ross for example, have successfully designed mechanical chronographs that are also true dive watches.

In any case, Seiko did make two ISO certified diver’s watches with an analog chronograph but in quartz guise. It may have released many diver-like watches with a stopwatch function, like the 7T62 caliber SNA225P for instance but these watches are more towards sports watches than true divers.

 

 

Up until recently, the Prospex SBDQ001 and 003 were the only two true diver’s watches with an analog chronograph from Seiko. They debuted probably in early 2002 and like all Prospex models, is a Japan Domestic Market (JDM) watch.

Prospex Seikos are abundant in Taiwan, where there is sufficient demand for JDM Seikos and a few pieces had found their way into Southeast Asia.

I first caught sight of the SBDQ-series divers in 2004 in a local watch store at the SOGO department store. It had striking looks and highlights – all-titanium construction, a modest case size, a rotating bezel, 200 meters’ water resistance and above all, a useful 12-hour chronograph with a 1/20sec timing resolution. Probably a unique feature of the SBDQ divers is a lumed second hand in a subdial. This and the discontinued, gargantuan SLD005P professional diver’s watch are perhaps the very few models that have lumed second hands.

Having being so used to mechanical divers, the reason I decided to get this watch was because of the chronograph function. Personally, I’m blase towards quartz watches unless there’s something absolutely special about them. -)

I checked out sources for the indigo blue dialed, SBDQ003 which in my opinion had a more interesting dial texture than the charcoal grey (read: black) SBDQ001. Roachman.com had advertised both the SBDQ001 and 003 but they were already sold out. This was the photo that led me in search of the SBDQ003.

 

SBDQ001 SBDQ003
 

The SBDQ001 (left) with black dial and SBDQ003 with deep blue dial (right). Photos courtesy of Roachman.com

 
 

Look and feel

The SBDQ003 has an attractive iridescent blue dial that’s chameleon-like. Depending on the angle you view it and the lighting conditions, the dial can look from almost black to purple-blue. If Seiko’s to be commended for their artistic wizardry, it’s their expertise in producing iridescent blue dials. This is however, nothing new to Seiko as the company has produced countless shimmering blue and green dials since the 70s. You have to see it for yourself to appreciate it. -)

On the wrist, the SBDQ003 feels pretty light due to its titanium case and bracelet. It’s also a midsized dive watch, so if you detest full sized quartz Seiko divers, this might appeal to you. The watch’s modest diameter is compensated by its long lugs. The SBDQ003 looks almost as large as the popular SKX007/009 mechanical divers. This was my first titanium Seiko and it felt quite strange to me having been used to heavier stainless steel Seikos. When I first strapped it on at the store, I could have sworn it felt like a plastic watch. Despite its plasticky feel, rest assured that the SBDQ is a well made timepiece. I could find no flaws in this watch.

 

 

Dimensions

Here are the measurements of this watch:

  • Diameter: 42 mm (w/o crown), 44.5 mm (w/ crown)
  • Lug-to-lug: 47.5 mm
  • Thickness: 13 mm
  • Lug width: 20 mm
  • Bracelet width: 19 mm, tapering to 17 mm at clasp

 

Bezel, crystal and case

As with all Seiko true divers, the SBDA003 comes with a unidirectional 120-click bezel. Its action is precise and smooth and I was amazed that the lumed triangle mark is dead-center at 12 o’clock. The pusher buttons felt stiffer than my other quartz chronograph Seiko watches. Perhaps it’s because of its 200 meter water resistant rating, the buttons had to be stiff to counteract water pressure. However, the owner manual stated that the buttons weren’t designed to be operated underwater (unlike Seiko’s professional NX dive computers) so I’ll have to be careful not to push them when the watch is wet or submerged.

 

SBDQ003

My SBDQ003 sitting on its Prospex throne.

 

The SBDQ003’s crystal is standard Hardlex, which is a patented process by Seiko comprising of hardened borosilicate glass. It is has a slight-to-moderate dome profile, which is typical of many Prospex divers. The case is a blend of matte and polished surfaces – the top and bottom parts of the watch is matte while its sides are beautifully polished.

Incidentally, the SBDQ003 shares the same case design, bezel and bracelet as the solar powered SBCB009, (V145 caliber) as shown below.

 

SBCB009 solar diver SBDQ003

The SBCB009 shares the same bezel, bracelet and lume with the SBDQ003. Images from Watch Tanaka, Japan

 

Bracelet

The SBDQ003’s bracelet is well designed and comfortable although it is somewhat a scratch magnet. That said, all Seiko untreated titanium watches without Seiko’s proprietary Diashield finishing process are prone to scratches. Diashield is usually reserved for Seiko’s higher end Prospex, Brightz and Grand Seiko titanium models. The SBDQ003’s bracelet is equipped with a diver’s extension clasp which you can deploy to wear over a wet suit.

I think the most vulnerable surface is the bracelet, especially the clasp. I noticed that the more I wear this watch, the more the wear on the clasp where the flip lock mates. I would attribute this to metal-to-metal friction so basically the watch scratches itself naturally. Typical scratches include the act of digging into a zippered pocket (I noticed this with my Dockers Mobile Pants).

Fortunately I invested in a watch satin refinishing kit from Pinnacle Supplies, USA. I usually tidy up minor swirls and scratches twice a year and the Satin Formula kit works quite well. You can get about as close to the factory brushed finish with a little practice.

 

SBDQ003J_5988 (Small) Compared to the SKX007J Three of my favorite Seikos Showing a bit of its bracelet

 

Dial and hands

As I mentioned before, the iridescent indigo dial is quite admirable. Frankly, I seldom see class act dials like this in a Seiko of this price range. I have seen the black SBDQ001 for comparison and in my opinion it’s more like a drab charcoal grey. I figured out for the price I’m paying for this watch I may as well get the blue SBDQ003 model. The watch has three subdials – for the perpetual seconds, the 1/20sec counter and a hour/minute totalizer.

The pointed main time hands are white with a slight yellowish tint, indicating that a higher grade of LumiBrite is used in this watch. The chronograph sweep hand is painted white with a red tip and aligns to the minute markers precisely.

 

SBDQ003 closeup

 

Close-up of the dial and hands. Note the lumed perpetual second hand

Lume

Digressing a little, Seiko uses two types of lume on its diver’s watches. The first is the standard type with a pure white lume, used in some models like the SKX007, SBBN007 and the SBDX001 Marine Master. The second type of lume has a yellowish tint and is more sensitive to light than the standard type. It actually doesn’t take much light to energize the lume. A five-second exposure to ultraviolet light is more than sufficient to excite the lume to its fullest. Seiko uses their higher grade lume in models such as the:

  • Monster series
  • Seiko 5 Sports 40th Anniversary series (SKZ201K, SKZ205K)
  • new Seiko 5 Sports divers (SKZ245K, SKZ247K, SKZ249K, SKZ251K, SKZ253K)
  • Sawtooth series (SHC061P, 063P, etc)
  • SLR series (SLR001P, SLR003P)
  • Prospex SBDC series (SBDC001, 003, 005)
  • Prospex SBCB series (SBCB007, 009)

 

SBDQ003

Don’t let its mid size fool you. The lume is actually quite bright! 🙂

 

Functions

There’s not much to mention about the SBDQ003’s functions other than the stopwatch. The top dial records the elapsed time in 1/20th of a second or to the nearest 0.05 second. The 1/20 sec hand spins rapidly for the first three minutes and thereafter it will stop in order to conserve battery. The hand will spin again if you have interrupted and resumed the stopwatch timing. As with all 7T92 based chronographs, the watch allows you to measure up to 12 hours.

 

 

Specifications

  • Caliber: 7T92, 0 jewels
  • Caseback: 7T92-0BD0
  • Movement type: Quartz, 32kHz crystal
  • Loss/gain: Less than 15 sec/month
  • Chronograph resolution: 1/20 sec
  • Calendar: Date only
  • Construction: Titanium
  • Crystal: Hardlex glass, domed profile
  • W.R. Rating: 200m
  • Luminous material: LumiBrite™
  • Battery life: Approximately 3 years
  • Battery type: Seiko SR927SW, 1.55 volts
  • Movement Japan, cased in Japan

 

Here are photos of the SBDQ003 on my 6.5" wrist:

 

SBDQ003_9686_resized (Small) SBDQ003J_7122 (Small) (Small) SBDQ003J_5992 (Small) SBDQ003J_5865

 

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a Seiko ISO certified diver with a stopwatch function with a modest size, look no further! The SBDQ-series divers are the best there is.

Although I seldom wear this watch, it’s a definite keeper for me. Seiko Japan’s website still lists this model therefore I think it’ll still be around for another few years. This is just my guesstimate as Seiko is known for discontinuing its products without publicity.

The moment the SBDQ001 and 003 disappears from Seiko’s website, it  means that they have stopped production of these divers. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a recently discontinued model can no longer be found. Chances are some brick-and-mortar store or online merchant may have the last remaining stocks and you’ll have to hunt around.

 

What I liked:

  • Attractive dial and overall looks
  • ISO certified 200m diver’s watch
  • Chronograph function
  • Lightweight feel
  • Well machined bracelet with diver’s extension
  • Very bright lume

 

What I didn’t care for:

  • Titanium bracelet prone to scratches
  • Watch could have been bigger than it is
  • Buttons may not be operated underwater
  • Sub-dial diameter not proportional to the main dial size
  • Lugs a bit too long, will leave an unsightly gap if a strap is used

 

Quartzimodo’s Rating

 

Price: 3-star
Looks: 4-star
Build quality: 4-star
Features: 3-half-star
Value for money: 3-half-star
Overall: 4star1174

 

 

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Comments

Nice review Stratman. I’m a fan of those SBDQ’s myself. The 7T92 is my favorite conventional quartz chronograph movement. The SBDQ’s have a refreshing feel on the wrist compared to many of the monstrous watches out today.

Here’s a shot of mine….

Good luck with the new blog.

Hi Pete,

Thanks for the kind words, you’ve certainly made my day! I didn’t know that you have a SBDQ diver – which one is it, the black or blue dialed one? Until now, the only other SBDQ owner on the forum that I know of is Paul Van Harte.

I can’t see your pic as I think WordPress strips off HTML codes.

Agree with you that the SBDQ makes a nice quartz diver! 🙂

Top review! I like this chronograph. Just dreaming with a mecanical diver’s chronograph!
What do you think about the new snda13p1? I don’t like it.

just an add: “Buttons may not be operated underwater” : imo it’s only a marketing advice…i hve any doubt that the buttons can operate under water. Just looking what casio make with g-shock!
😉 !

Thanks for the comments, Fred! 🙂

Seiko does make dive wrist computers like the digital NX series, of which its buttons are designed to be operated underwater.

I don’t think the SBDQ003’s pushers should be pressed underwater, Seiko has a valid reason for advising against it. As for the latest SNDA13P and its cousins, I don’t like the design either…especially the integrated bracelet.

I just wish the SBDQ003 is as large as the SNDA13P though. 🙂

[…] also makes ISO-certified diving watches with buttons, such as the SBDQ001/003 and SNDA13/15P chronographs and several Kinetic divers with power reserve indicator buttons (the […]

[…] its supreme brightness. It’s the same kind of lume used in the Sawtooth, Knight, Monster and SBDQ/SBCB Prospex divers, beating even the Prospex SBDX001 and SBBN007 […]

[…] about the technical details on this one. Quartzimodo actually posted a nice writeup on this one on his blog earlier this year, and his post is worth a read. Mine was an eBay pickup. One of those […]

Been searching for this watch online, but to no avail. Do you know a good source for one of these other than the bay?

Hi Chris,

Sorry for the belated reply.

As the SBDQ003 is a Japan market Seiko, I would suggest that you contact both Higuchi Inc and Seiya-san for a price quote. The last time I looked at Seiko’s website, the SBDQ chrono divers are still in production.

Not many guys appreciate this watch -perhaps because of its small size or because it’s quartz. Hmm.. 🙂

cheers,

Quartzimodo

[…] to its supreme brightness. It’s the same kind of lume used in the Sawtooth, Knight, Monster and SBDQ/SBCB Prospex divers, beating even the Prospex SBDX001 and SBBN007 […]

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