Deep Dive: A Look at the Seiko 6105 AKA Captain Willard
Seiko is widely known as a company that produces affordable, high-quality diver's watches. One of the reasons why this brand image came to be goes back to the American War in Vietnam – and the Seiko 6105.
Produced as the second true Seiko diver – the 6105 took on two distinct forms. The first iteration of the diver was given 8000/8009 as a reference number.
The Seiko 6105-8000 had a cushion shaped case, and is very rare today. While it is a serious collector's item in its own right, it simply never made the impact that the later iteration, the 6105-8110/8119 created.
Lucky 2? The second iteration of the second Seiko diver was the one that clicked with the masses. Source: Fratello Watches
With the Seiko 6105-8110, Seiko had created a dynasty. Both versions of the 6105 feature a 4 o'clock crown, but the 6105-8110/8119 introduced the legendary asymmetric crown guard that has come to define the model.
The Seiko 6105 was unique looking, extremely tough, and very affordable. When US soldiers found out that their Army-issued watches didn't stand up to the heat and humidity of Vietnam, the “Second Seiko Diver” was the common substitute.
A Watch that Would Make History
From a specifications perspective, the original Seiko 6105 wasn't anything too out of the ordinary – for a diver's watch at least. It was large by the standards of the time, and it was also produced in large quantities from the late 1960s until 1977.
The 6105's were ready for use in harsh environments, and when US soldiers brought them back to the USA when they returned home, Seiko diver's watches gained a well-deserved reputation for offering an incredible value proposition.
An original 1970s 6105-8000 in great condition. Source: u/ohitommywiseau on Reddit
With an asymmetric case and 150m of stated water resistance, the Seiko 6105 was able to stand up to punishing conditions. It was also very wearable for a larger watch, and was almost as long as it was wide (44mm in diameter).
A look behind the scenes of the movie Apocalypse Now. Source: Craft + Tailored
As for the nickname “Captain Willard” that defines the 6105 to this day – it was actually a result of Martin Sheen wearing a 6105-8110 in the movie “Apocalypse Now”. This has no doubt raised the profile of the 6105 – especially in the Seiko collecting community.
Japanese adventurer Naomi Uemura also used a 6105 when he crossed from Greenland to Alaska by dog sled – which took 18 months in the frigid north. This is another example of how Seiko, and the Seiko 6105, earned a reputation for being a tough watch while still being affordable.
It's not even a paid promotion - Naomi-san just found the watch to be extremely reliable. Source: Horbiter
All 6105's had a movement that operated at 21,600 bph and contained 17 jewels. Depending on the year a 6105 was purchased, it may or may not have featured hacking. The text on the dial also changed over the production run, with some stating 'Water 150m Proof' – and other stating 'Water 150m Resist'.
All known 6105s had a date complication, and the other standard features a person might expect in a diving watch. Although there was no true heir to the design of the 6015 (until very recently) it isn't hard to see how it influenced the case design that would be used in the SKX.
The Seiko 6105 Returns – Sort of – With the SLA033
In 2019 Seiko brought back the body of the 6105-8110, but perhaps not its spirit. The SLA033 is a beautiful watch that Seiko considered to be a reissue of the 6105 – and it certainly shares the original's iconic case shape.
A beautiful watch for enthusiasts with deep pockets. Source: jvophoto on IG
However, the SLA033 was crafted to be a luxury watch, and featured an 8L35 movement and Zaratsu polishing*. It was also a touch larger than the original with a diameter of 45mm, and was 13mm thick.
*Zaratsu polishing is usually reserved for the Grand Seiko luxury line, and results in a “distortion-free, brilliant mirrored finish.”
With a 50-hour power reserve and looks to kill – this was one gorgeous iteration of the Seiko 6105's design.
The SLA033 was made in a limited run of 2,500, and sold new for more than $4,000 USD.
To be sure – the SLA033 was an amazing reissue. However, it wasn't designed along the same lines of its inspiration, and wasn't accessible to the vast majority of watch buyers.
Seiko Creates a 6015 Reissue for the Masses – The SPB151 / 153
After the smashing success of the SLA033, Seiko released the SPB151 / 153 line, with a much lower price tag, and some interesting characteristics. While most reissues are actually larger than the original model, the SPB15X's are a touch smaller than the 6105 at just 42.7mm.
Like a 6105, but much shinier - the SPB151/153 is a dream come true for many collectors. Source: lovevintagewatches1979 on IG
In terms of the case itself, Seiko was totally faithful to the 6105's design, and kept all the major details nearly identical. Much like the SLA033, the SPB15Xs sport ceramic bezel inserts, and have a modern movement.
Unlike the SLA 033, the SPB15Xs use the 6R35 movement which hacks, handwinds, and also has a 70-hour power reserve – 20 hours more than the 8L35 used in the $4,000+ SLA033. Overall, for anyone that wants a 100% Seiko produced reissue of the 6105 – the SPB15X series is the way to go.
How do the Reissues Stack Up to the Original 6105?
It is great to see Seiko diving into its history and reissuing models that have become extremely collectible. Vintage 6105s have become an expensive item, and many actually contain aftermarket parts (which is fine from a functionality standpoint, but not for collectibility).
Over the years Seiko has drifted away from being a manufacturer of value-oriented tool watches, and today, many of the watches that would have been created for working professionals are expensive by any measure – except perhaps when compared to their Swiss counterparts.
The SLA033 is a striking example of this phenomenon. While the original 6105 was purchased by foot soldiers in a war zone for its value and toughness, the SLA033 is only affordable to a small portion of the community. Beautiful as it may be, many Seiko fans have been priced out.
On the other hand, the SPB15Xs could be bought for around a quarter of the price of the SLA033 when it was introduced, and are a very capable diver's watch. The same thing can also be said of a Seiko Turtle, which when judged for its functionality – is the same as the SPB15Xs, but can be found at far, far lower prices.
Achieving the Captain Willard Look
The “Willard” is all about the case. There aren't many other cases out there that can stack up to the 6105 in terms of originality, or historical significance. Seiko was a different company in 1968, and it was competing for market share in a world that was awash in good quality mechanical watches.
Outside of the case, the 6105 is more or less the same as the 62MAS – of course it is larger – but the black dial, black bezel insert, and large markers are all similar. It also has similar lumed baton hands, and a second hand with a red dot at its tip.
Seeing as Captain Willard is a soldier, green is a logical color choice. Source: inhousewatch on IG
To mod further into the “Captain Willard” theme, one may also choose for a green palette, which is the color of a the US army’s fatigues. The SPB153 itself uses an olive-green dial and insert.
Overall – if you want to recreate the look of a Seiko Captain Willard it is all about the case!
New Release: A Captain Willard Case from NAMOKI!
Here at namokiMODS – we are all about delivering high quality aftermarket components to our clients. We know that there’s demand for the “Captain Willard” – so we released a case that will allow you to create your own 6105 homage.
The good news is that not only will our 6105 mod case reproduce the classic looks of the original, but you will also be able to use all the modern parts we already offer to build your watch.
And now, the important numbers: our upcoming Captain Willard case will have a 3-9H case diameter of 46.61mm with crown guard (44mm w/o crown guard), while 6-12H measures at 46.75mm. The thickness is at a slim 9.28mm with a strap size of 20mm. These sizes are proportionally accurate to the original, so you can make a close-to-faithful homage of the Seiko Captain Willard.
Compatible with our existing mod parts for a unique Capt. Willard mod.
A slight difference is the crown position. The original puts it at 4 o’clock, but we opted to move it slightly to 3:45 to make it compatible with the upgraded NH movements. This small adjustment makes it similar to the crown guard position on the SPB151 and SPB153, which both rock a 3:45 crown.
Check out our Captain Willard mod case here.
Keep an Eye Out for Our New Releases
namokiMODS has some of the best Seiko mod parts in the industry. If you are looking for skx007 parts like a skx007 bezel insert – we offer a wide variety of parts that just keeps growing.
Now we are developing a Captain Willard Case that will allow our clients to make their own version of a Seiko Captain Willard, the classic Seiko diver. We know that watch modding is a passion – so we take our commitment to quality seriously.
You can be sure that when you choose to buy Seiko mod parts from us – you are getting some of the best Seiko mod parts in the world!