All About The Seiko "Willard" (A True Movie ICON!)
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All About the Seiko Willard

All About The Seiko “Willard” (A True Movie ICON!)

To many contemporary collectors, Seiko’s fame rides mostly on their development of reliable dive watches. Ranging from affordable and utility-focused executions to high-end masterclasses in case finishing and movement technology that is some of the best in modern watchmaking, Seiko has released a dive watch that will please almost every collector. 

Within groups of Seiko enthusiasts, many models have been given affectionate nicknames, often referencing their appearance. One famous dive watch has risen to the status of cult favorite, the Seiko “Captain Willard.” The nickname does not stem from the design of the model but from its history and involvement in an iconic film, Apocalypse. 

History of Seiko Dive Watches

The first Seiko dive watch was the reference 6217, most commonly referred to as the 62MAS for Model Automatic Selfdater. The 62MAS was produced from 1965 to 1968, featured 150 meters of water resistance, and had the automatic calibre 6217 inside, with 17 jewels and an 18,000 bph beat rate. The two versions were designated the 6217-8000 and 6217-8001, with the latter receiving a larger crown design.

About the Seiko 6105 “Captain Willard”

The famed “Captain Willard” reference 6105 was produced from 1968 to 1977, meaning this iconic reference was only the second production dive watch produced by Seiko. Still water resistant to 150 meters, an improvement was made to the automatic movement, including a higher 21,600 bph beat rate.

Two references were produced, the 6105A, which included a non-hacking movement, and the 6105B, which could be hacked for accurate setting. Neither model included the ability to be hand wound. Also of note is that neither of these models featured clicking, uni-directional bezels. They were only friction-fitted bi-directional bezels.

The black bezel features markings going all the way around instead of hash marks for only the last 15 minutes, as commonly seen on other divers. It was not until the second generation of the reference 7002, which was in production from 1988 to 1996, that Seiko would include a spring-loaded uni-directional bezel seen on modern divers today.

When Apocalypse Now was released in 1979, the character Captain Willard, played by Martin Sheen, was wearing a Seiko reference 6105. Eagle-eyed Seiko enthusiasts noted the watch and thus nicknamed the timepiece the “Captain Willard.”

Seiko Ref. 6105 “Captain Willard” Specifications

The case of the Seiko 6105 “Captain Willard” is very similar to the Seiko “Turtle” case we know today. The asymmetrical cushion case measures 44mm wide without the crown, and 47.5mm lug-to-lug, with a 19mm lug width. The case asymmetry is due to the design of the crown guard, protecting the locking crown from hard knocks. 

While the case width seems quite large, the compact lug-to-lug keeps the watch wearable despite the tool-oriented size. This allows the watch to be large and easy to read while still easy to wear for a large variety of wrist sizes. The Seiko Hardlex crystal had anti-reflective characteristics, ensuring legibility in a variety of environments and also providing shatter resistance that sapphire does not. 

The dial of the Seiko reference 6105 “Captain Willard” is black, with square and rectangular indices. The twelve o’clock marker is doubled and comes to a point at the bottom. The six and 9 o’clock markers are longer rectangles, with the remaining markers being smaller squared-shaped indices. 

The hour and minute hands are rectangular in shape, with a shovel-shaped seconds hand, that mimics the 12 o’clock marker. The indices and hands are all lumed, allowing for low light reading. Additionally, there is a framed date window with a white disk and black print at three o’clock.

The reference 6105 original came with a black, textured rubber strap. Compared to many modern rubber straps, these were hard and brittle. They were pretty durable, but they often lived hard lives, making finding an original very difficult indeed.

If you are searching for a strap for the original look, many period-correct-looking straps on the market provide modern comfort and wearability. The Seiko 6105 retailed for $95 back in 1968, which is the equivalent of $828 as of June 2023. 

Modern Seiko “Captain Willard” Watches

With the legacy of the reference 6105, Seiko has iterated on the iconic watch, releasing a variety of modern references that pay homage to the original while making changes to provide a broader range of options to collectors.

Seiko SPB151 & SPB153

These two references harken to the 6105 “Captain Willard” in their case shape and dial design. The SPB151 brings back the iconic black dial but now offers a factory steel bracelet. The SPB153 comes with a green dial and bezel with a black rubber strap. Both references are smaller than the 6105, measuring 42.7mm wide, 46.6mm lug-to-lug, 13.2mm thick, and 20mm lug width. 

Both steel watches have a super hard surface coating and are rated to 200 meters of water resistance with a screw case-back and screw-down crown. Inside is the 6R35 movement, offering 70 hours of power reserve, with a stated accuracy of +25 to -15 seconds a day. The movement has 24 jewels, hacking seconds, and a date display. 

The dials are covered by a curved sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective surface coating. The bracelet has a three-fold clasp with a lock, push button release, and dive extension. The rubber strap uses a conventional pin buckle to secure the watch to the wrist. The bezel is a unidirectional ratcheting type with similar markings to the 6105. 

These two references may be the closest to the original intention of reference 6105, “Captain Willard.” While many changes have been made, they improve the durability and wearability of the watch. The SPB151 retails for $1300, and the SPB153 retails for $1100. While a bit more than the original 6105 when adjusted for inflation, the modern upgrades should make the increase in price worthwhile. 

Seiko SPB237

Seiko SPB237

If you like the idea of the SPB151 or SPB153 but want more of the vintage aesthetic, you might have if you found an original reference 6105, “Captain Willard,” the SPB237 is worth considering.

Featuring the same case and movement as the SPB151, the SPB237 features a black bezel with faded markers and a textured grey dial with faux vintage lume that results in an overall aged look. To continue with the previous military-issued vibe of this watch, it is fitted with an olive green nylon strap.

Retailing at $1300, it is the same price as the SPB151 on a bracelet. While you may not get the value of the metal bracelet, if this is the style you’re after, the premium will be worth the extra charm. 

Seiko SLA033

Seiko SLA033

With a price tag of $4250 and as a limited edition 2500 pieces, the SLA033 is less of a direct modern version of the reference 6105 and more of a love letter to the original “Captain Willard,” making it up in the best of what Seiko has to offer. 

The stainless steel case measures 45mm wide, 49.7mm lug-to-lug, 13mm thick, and has 19mm lugs, very close to the original. Improvements are made with the 200 meters of water resistance. The case has a super hard coating but goes through the same Zaratsu polishing technique on the case and bezel as used on Grand Seiko and Credor watches. 

The watch is hand-assembled in the same Shizukuishi studio as Seiko’s high-end brands, meaning the attention to detail with this reference is up there with the best companies in watches. 

The black dial is covered by a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inner surface, and there is a LumiBrite lume on the hands and indices. The bezel is also stainless steel, making it more durable and premium than the original aluminum inserts.

The 8L35 movement offers a 50-hour power reserve, 26 jewels, a hacking seconds hand, and date function, and is rated to +15/-10 seconds a day. The 8L series movements are also finished to a higher standard than the 6L movements seen in the SPB151. 

The rubber strap is also similar to the original but made with modern comfort in mind. The watch is secured on the wrist with a stainless steel pin buckle. 

The SLA033 is very much for those that love the style of the original reference 6105 “Captain Willard,” but demand to have the best watch possible. The SLA033 is Seiko’s take on a premium and modern “Captain Willard.”


With many fans of the iconic movie and Seiko building their reputation for making reliable watches, it is not surprising that the reference 6105 “Captain Willard ” has cultivated the fan base that it has over the years. Seiko’s unique designs separate them from other big brands, making them standouts in an overcrowded market of conventional dive watches. 

Whether you are a fan of Apocalypse Now, in need of a trusted diver, or simply appreciate Seiko’s designs and build quality, any reference from an original 6105 to the luxurious SLA033 will likely serve any enthusiastic collector well. 

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