Seiko Captain Willard: Reviewing One Of Seiko’s Most Unique Vintage Divers

Those who are familiar with Seiko will know that its extensive catalog has produced some of the best dive watches on the market. Seiko has an amazing reputation amongst enthusiasts and collectors because it is a true master of the horological craft. At present, the brand has hundreds of diving timekeepers in its portfolio, with many, like the Seiko Tuna or Seiko Samurai, even serving as horology icons.

One of Seiko’s most popular dive pieces today is the Seiko Captain Willard, which is known as a quintessential diver in the watchmaking world. In fact, the original Seiko Captain Willard is also referred to as the basis for all the Seiko diving watches that came after it because of its impressive, unparalleled qualities that were ahead of its time. With all that said, let us take a closer look at what the Seiko Captain Willard has to offer and figure out what all the hype is truly about.

Seiko Captain Willard: A Brief Background

The Seiko Captain Willard, also known as the Seiko 6105, was released back in 1968. This was around the same time as the Vietnam War, which is a historical event that is most often associated with the Seiko Captain Willard. However, contrary to popular belief, the Seiko 6105 was not actually used by many soldiers during the conflict. There is no historical evidence that the Seiko 6105 was sold or given to US troops during that time. Instead, it was the Seiko 5 that was a more popular choice amongst soldiers during that period.

That said, the Seiko Captain Willard quickly gained fame in another way.

Why is it Called the Seiko Captain Willard? 

Image from Apocalypse Now of Captain Willard (Martine Sheen) wearing a Seiko 6105 watch.

As mentioned, the original name of the Seiko Captain Willard is the Seiko 6105, which is simply just its reference number. The Seiko Captain Willard gained both its popularity and its nickname from a blockbuster film called Apocalypse Now, which came out in 1979. This movie featured a soldier named Captain Willard, played by Martin Sheen, who took part in the Vietnam War. Throughout the film, Captain Willard totes the Seiko 6105, which of course caught the interest of many watch enthusiasts. Apocalypse Now was a defining moment in the history of the Seiko 6105, and since then, people have referred to it as the Seiko Captain Willard.

A Closer Look at the Seiko Captain Willard

Front view of the Seiko 6105 watch.

Now that we know the origin story of the Seiko Captain Willard, let us take a closer look at its impressive design and technical specifications. 

Case 

The Seiko Captain Willard 6105 is presented in a 44mm stainless steel case that boasts a cushion-shaped, asymmetrical structure. This gives it a large, chunky, and brazen look that is bound to catch the eyes of everyone. Despite its size, the Seiko Captain Willard is actually known to be quite easy to wear, thanks to the ergonomic build of its case, which molds itself quite comfortably to the shape of the wrist.

Aside from that, this watch also boasts unmatched durability, befitting its robust exterior, as it showcases a superb resistance to scratches, shocks, and impacts. Lastly, protecting this watch’s face from any external damage is Seiko’s trademark Hardlex crystal, which possesses anti-reflective properties that promise the wearer a clear and highly legible view of the dial.

Bracelet

Moving on to the bracelet, the Seiko Captain Willard 6105 comes with a striking rubber strap in black that perfectly complements its daring exterior. This black rubber strap shows off a bold and intricate waffle pattern, giving the watch a sportier, more outdoorsy aesthetic. Since the Seiko Captain Willard is a vintage timepiece, this unique band is actually now considered quite rare and valuable, so count yourself lucky if you manage to come across one of these.

Dial and Bezel

The dial of the Seiko Captain Willard 6105 also showcases a dauntless, rugged design that goes well with its case and bracelet. Like most divers out there, this model has a rather straightforward face that optimizes legibility. It comprises large hour indices in the shapes of rectangles and squares and silver-tone blunt hands, all of which are coated in lume for excellent visibility even in the dark. And while the Seiko 6105 does not come with any overly fancy complications, it does include a standard date window at 3 o’clock, outlined in silver, which adds to the watch’s functionality.

On top of that, the Seiko Captain Willard also comes with a unidirectional rotating bezel that is fitted with a black ceramic insert. This bezel bears luminous elements and clean, legible white indicators for a handy elapsed time scale, making the Seiko 6105 the ideal diving watch.

Movement 

In order to match the robustness of its exterior, the brand made sure to equip the Seiko Captain Willard 6105 with an equally impressive interior. The Seiko Captain Willard is powered by an in-house Caliber 6105B. This well-crafted automatic movement consists of 17 jewels and has a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour (3Hz). It also possesses a decent power reserve of 32 hours, making it quite durable and reliable.

Reputation

Produced only from 1968 to 1977, the Seiko Captain Willard definitely raised the stakes for future diving watches. It was able to acquire such a unique and highly-regarded reputation because it was built on three main pillars: pop culture, history, and excellent craftsmanship. To this day, the Seiko Captain Willard continues to be known as one of the best vintage divers that one could only dream of adding to their collection.

Price Range 

According to old Seiko catalogs, the original retail price of the Seiko Captain Willard was around $95 USD. Of course, since it has been out of production for more than 40 years, this watch has become considerably more valuable today. At present, the resale cost of vintage Seiko Captain Willard watches on the secondhand market is set at around $1,000 USD to $2,000 USD, depending on the seller and the condition of the piece.

Modern Variations of the Seiko Captain Willard

If you are looking for contemporary variations of the Seiko Captain Willard, worry not! We will also be taking a closer look at the modern Seiko Captain Willard options available to you. 

1. Seiko Prospex Captain Willard Ref. SPB151J1

Front view of the Seiko Prospex Captain Willard Ref. SPB151J1 watch.

First up, we have the Seiko Prospex Captain Willard Ref. SPB151J1, which is an exceptionally robust, professional-looking watch. Compared to the original Seiko 6501, this modern variant looks a lot more polished because of its sleek all-stainless-steel look. This is a great choice for those who want a more subdued, versatile version of the ever-so-famous Seiko Captain Willard.

This watch comes in a 42.7mm cushion-shaped case and bracelet, both made out of polished stainless steel. This is sharply contrasted against a rotating bezel with a jet-black elapsed time scale insert. This bezel has jagged, teeth-like edges, which ensure that wearers can grip and turn it easily.

The dial also comes in a striking matte black hue, complementing the bezel. This watch face is quite similar to that of the original Seiko 6501; it has the same luminous hour indices in square and rectangle shapes, blunt hands, and a date complication. However, this dial also differs in having slightly thicker hands and doing away with the silver outline around the date display.

Powering this Seiko Prospex watch is an automatic 6R35 Caliber. As a modern in-house Seiko movement, this caliber has an outstanding 70-hour power supply, which is a massive improvement from the original Seiko Captain Willard’s 32-hour power reserve. It also possesses a solid 200-metre depth rating, which is quite standard for a good dive watch.

Priced at $1,079 USD, this is a fail-safe option for all Seiko Captain Willard enthusiasts.

2. Seiko Prospex Captain Willard Ref. SBDC111

Front view of the Seiko Prospex Captain Willard Ref. SBDC111 watch.

Next, we have the Seiko Prospex Captain Willard Ref. SBDC111, which is actually very similar to the aforementioned model. Just at a glance, you can tell that it shows off the same build and design as the Captain Willard Ref. SPB151J1. However, the Captain Willard Ref. SBDC111 differs in having a different colorway and case finish, which gives it a more casual aesthetic and vibe.

The Seiko Captain Willard Ref. SBDC111 is housed in a 42.7mm stainless steel case and bracelet, both of which show off fine, satin-brushed finishes. This is coupled with a rotating, dark blue elapsed time scale bezel. The dial also comes in a handsome dark blue shade that wonderfully matches the bezel. This dial is adorned with thick luminous hour indices in the shapes of squares and rectangles, broad silver-tone blunt hands, and a compact date display at 3 o’clock. It also runs on the self-winding 6R35 Caliber. Held together by 24 jewels, this movement boasts a 70-hour power supply and a 200-metre depth rating.

With its suave silver-and-blue color combination, this $1,399 USD Seiko Captain Willard model serves as the ideal everyday timekeeper.

3. Seiko Prospex Captain Willard Ref. SBDC109

Front view of the Seiko Prospex Captain Willard Ref. SBDC109 watch.

Our last modern Captain Willard is the Seiko Prospex Captain Willard Ref. SBDC109, which is definitely the most unique-looking out of the three models mentioned in this shortlist. This is an instant stunner, with its handsomely rugged design and sporty elements. Of the contemporary Seiko Captain Willard models, this variant is arguably the most popular, and for very good reason.

This Prospex watch utilizes a 42.7mm satin-brushed stainless steel case, paired with a comfortable black silicone strap, much like the original Seiko 6105. Fitted on top of its case is a unidirectional rotating bezel, which bears a dark green elapsed time scale insert made of ceramic.

The dial of this watch, likewise, comes in an alluring dark green hue that stands out strongly against the silver-tone case. It is furnished with pronounced hour indices and broad blunt hands, all of which are generously coated with lume. At 3 o’clock, you can also find a small rectangular date aperture. Underneath this stylish watch face is an automatic 6R35 Caliber. It has a water resistance rating of 200 meters and can last for up to 70 hours when fully wound.

If you want a more casual and sporty version of the Seiko Captain Willard, you can get your hands on this model for approximately $1,289 USD.

Is it worth it? 

If you are still debating whether the Seiko Captain Willard is worth your time, here are some reasons that should further convince you:

  1. Rich Heritage. As we have discussed in this article, the Seiko Captain Willard has a very colorful history to back it up. Much of its popularity was the result of it being featured in the movie Apocalypse Now, which even made this watch relevant to the pop culture world. Aside from that, the Seiko Captain Willard is also often associated with the Vietnam War, because its peak coincides with the same period. With such a rich heritage, it is no surprise that people have continued to rave about the Seiko Captain Willard to this day. 
  2. Excellent Reputation. Having a few minutes of fame is different from being graced with an established reputation, the Seiko Captain Willard definitely has the latter too. While it may have caught the attention of people due to non-horological factors, it would not be such a highly regarded watch to this day if that’s all there was to the Seiko Captain Willard. Fortunately, the Seiko Captain Willard is able to back up its fame with top-notch features and functions that set the bar for future dive pieces. This has led to an untouchable reputation for both the Seiko Captain Willard and even its modern variations. 

Who should get the Seiko Captain Willard? 

  1. Seiko Patrons. This is a no-brainer. While it is a herculean task to acquire every legendary Seiko watch to ever exist (after all, there are many), the Seiko Captain Willard should be pretty high up on any true fan’s list of must-have Seiko timepieces. This well-established model took the world by storm back in the 70s and its popularity has only continued to this day. With its especially unique history, this is a timekeeper that should be on every Seiko patron’s rob list.
  2. Film Buffs. As we mentioned, the Seiko Captain Willard has strong ties to blockbuster film Apocalypse Now and that makes it a fantastic piece of merchandise for fans of that movie. Film buffs who love owning unique and exclusive merch will surely salivate at the chance to get their hands on the watch worn by Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard.
  3. Diving Professionals. Of course, even those who do not care about the Seiko Captain Willard’s heritage will also surely enjoy this watch. Its modern-day variations come with durable exteriors, superb features, and solid 200-metre water resistance ratings. According to user reviews, the contemporary Seiko Captain Willard models are also very comfortable to wear and exhibit great functionality when used underwater.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the Seiko Captain Willard is one of the best pieces to ever be produced by the Japanese brand. It has a bold and stunning exterior that perfectly complements its robustness and impressive functionality. If you are on the hunt for a gorgeous and reliable diver watch from Seiko, the Seiko Captain Willard should definitely be on your radar! 

Photo Credits: Watchshopping Site, eBay, and Google Image

Interested in Japanese masterpieces? Check out our article on the Grand Seiko Snowflake!

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