I am sure you don't really want the certificate, it is just a piece of paper.
That piece of paper doesn't mean you are qualified for an architect. To be a real architect it requires extensive field/project experience (years after years), deep understanding of the IT industry, wide knowledge and the capability of abstracting, good sense, and PASSION.
Doing the new SCEA5 is just a means to achieve the goal.
Ordinarily, I'd say "go for it" on the old SCEA - the only real differences between the exams are the grading standards (I find the new one to be harder) and the technologies covered (the old SCEA is out of date). Plus, as you've finished Part I, there's no reason not to proceed through and then simply take the upgrade multiple-choice exam to get the latest certification.
However - it's also the beginning of November. You only have until the end of 2008 to submit the Part II and Part III of the old SCEA before the exam is retired fully, and I don't think you're doing yourself any favors in rushing through it. I would, therefore, at this point recommend simply starting the track over with the SCEA5 Part I and giving yourself the benefit of the full time for Part II's project.
Theodore Jonathan Casser
SCJP/SCSNI/SCBCD/SCWCD/SCDJWS/SCMAD/SCEA/MCTS/MCPD... and so many more letters than you can shake a stick at!
I'm not sure if you can still continue with the old SCEA, some threads mention that you should have purchased Parts II and III for the old SCEA early this year and will be given up to December 2008 to complete all parts.
You should probably contact your local Sun provider and see what they have to say.
Be sure to let us know what their reply is so that other ranchers reading this thread would also benefit from your inquiry.
In terms of which version of the exam to take, I think it's not very critical because they both test you with the same objectives. There are just some minor differences in the list of deliverables (the new exam requires a Risk and Mitigation List while the old one only required an Assumptions document) and the JEE versions (new version requires JEE 1.4 or higher) that you are required to use.