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Let's get this out of the way - there's only two watch companies with such strong reputations for making tool watches that can make patina - evidence of a life lived with the purpose that a tool watch was designed for - attractive.  Namely, a Swiss company that starts with an "R" and...Seiko.

 

And this is one of those watches - a full-serviced steel gray-dialed MACV-SOG 1968 Seiko 6106-8100 here, with NOS USMIL nylon strap, vintage Waltham W.C.C. compass, and MACV-SOG patch.  Separate from it's SOG heritage (or perhaps the reason SOG chose it?), Seiko debuted this watch in 1967 as its very first “Sport Diver.”

 

But what of the MACV-SOG moniker we’ve attached to this Seiko sport diver? 

 

As documented in an article we wrote for Watches of Espionage (WoE), we tracked down and spoke with respected SOG operator, Michael “Magnet” O’Byrne, and uncovered a SOG-issued Seiko previously unknown to the watch community - the late 1960’s Seiko 6106-8100 automatic sport diver.

 

As the likely only HUMINT-trained Case Officer in Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG) - and later combat pilot - O’Byrne earned three Bronze Stars and five Purple Hearts during his Vietnam tours.  During our chats, he shared a wealth of previously unseen photographs, stories about his tours, and, of course, his time with his USMIL-issued Seiko.

 

Before we spoke with O’Byrne, WoE had outlined the three Seiko models known to have been worn by SOG forces: the Arabic numeral-dialed Seiko 6619 (first the 6119-8280, then the 6619-8060), 6119-8100, and 7005-8030 automatic divers.  But the evidence then, that the Seiko 6106 was issued to MACV-SOG forces, was decidedly sparse and single-thread – the Special Forces History Museum website run by Jason Hardy asserted O’Byrne had been issued the 6106 and provided several photographs of the watch as issued to him.  Those photographs were the starting point to unraveling the mystery – two of which revealed O’Byrne wearing a discernable 6106-8100.

 

MACV-SOG, a multi-service United States special operations unit conducting highly classified covert unconventional warfare operations during the 1960/70s Vietnam conflict in North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, issued Seiko watches either directly via its Counter Insurgency Support Office (CISO, run by Conrad “Ben” Baker) or instructing the recon men to buy them on the open market.

 

In 1969, CISO issued a May 1968 Seiko 6106-8100 dive watch (serial number 852824) to Special Forces Green Beret soldier Michael O’Byrne before he departed for his first of two tours in Vietnam.  CISO was established on Okinawa in 1963 to supply clothing, weapons and equipment to Special Forces in Vietnam, to include MACV-SOG.

 

Upon arrival at the SOG’s Command and Control North (CCN) command, O’Byrne was wearing a USMIL-issued watch.  Not just any watch, but a Seiko, issued originally on a canvas (later replaced with a rubber) strap replete with Waltham W.C.C. compass.  One of O’Byrne’s responsibilities during missions into Laos was to surveil the Ho Chi Minh Viet Cong supply trail and place wiretaps along it to gather additional intelligence on enemy logistic movements and patterns of life.


O’Byrne told us he would wear his Seiko, “on every trip across the fence because it gave off very little light, just enough to read the time and the compass still worked.”  In late 1969, on his last patrol leading RT Rhode Island, the Seiko would play an integral role (albeit in a less than traditional sense) during an operation that would earn him his third Purple Heart.

 

During a fire fight after an ambush, the W.C.C compass partially deflected North Vietnam grenade shrapnel from O’Byrne’s wrist, damaging the compass in the process and resulting in a dislocated shoulder, shrapnel embedded in a bicep, and a concussion.  He was left with a scar the size of a quarter on his wrist (still visible during our conversation).

This Seiko MACV-SOG automatic comes on a new-old stock USMIL-issued nylon strap, and with vintage Waltham military compass, SOG patch, springbar tool, black nylon strap, and rugged travel case.

MACV-SOG 1968 Seiko 6106-8100 Diver w/Waltham W.C.Co. Military Compass

$1,749.99Price
  • DIAL: Seiko-signed dark gray “proof” dial, which shimmers depending on angle.  English-only day/date at 3 o’clock position works nicely.  Lume on dial shines, but lume on handset is dead (typical) - lume throughout has a great light uniform matching patina

     

    CASE: Stainless-steel case measures 38mm x 45mm; matching “proof” caseback; bezel teeth remain in sharp condition and bezel insert is ghosted, but remains fully legible.

     

    CRYSTAL: Domed acrylic crystal - no blemishes, scratches, or cracks.

     

    BAND: This Seiko 6106 comes on a new-old stock (NOS) USMIL dark green strap (this strap is 2mm smaller - by design - to accept the vintage Waltham military compass); this diver also comes with a black nylon strap.

     

    MOVEMENT: Seiko 25-jewel 6106 automatic movement, manufactured in September 1968.  We have performed a full service on this Seiko MACV-SOG diver.

     

    CROWN: Recessed unsigned stainless-steel crown.

     

    This 1969 Seiko 6106 MACV-SOG comes with a functioning era-correct vintage Waltham Compass Company (W.C.Co.) military compass as worn by SOG soldiers, and a MACV-SOG patch.

     

    A portion of the sales from all of our vintage MACV-SOG Seiko watches are donated to the Special Operations Association and the Third Option Foundation.  The SOA benifits a range of programs for the USMIL Special Operations Community from scholarships to POW/MIA efforts; the Third Option provides support to surviving family of CIA Special Activities Center (SAC) operators and offers medical services for active-duty operators.

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