Seiko has a deep and varied history in the world of dive watches, and none are as iconic and famous as the venerable Seiko 6105-8110/9 automatic, like this just serviced all original excellent example here from 1976. It is the definitive Seiko diver, and it holds its own against the other iconic divers of the 1970’s. The 6105-8110 and 6105-8119 are the same, with the exception of the last digit in the reference number, which indicates the market the watch was originally sold.
Seiko produced the 6105-811X from 1970-77, which came in two dial variations. Early models from 1970 were labeled “Water 150m Proof” on the dial, and “Waterproof” on the case back. However, and at some point that same year, Seiko changed the text to “Water 150m Resist” with “Water Resistant” on the back to meet U.S. Federal guidelines ahead of a January 1972 deadline. The proof/proof models are rare and command a definite price premium over the resist/resist models.
6105s suffered from a less than great crown lock design, which often inadvertently allowed moisture to intrude into the case, resulting in “black rot” on the lume on the dial - the watch does not feature a screw-down crown, but instead a mechanism locks the crown in place to keep it from moving, when the user is not setting the time or date.
Now – on to the that nickname. During the Vietnam War, U.S. military soldiers were known to buy 6105’s at the PXs (Post Exchanges) on bases in Southeast Asia. Many soldiers wore them during combat, as Army-issued watches were known to fail in the jungle environment (much like their other gear, to include early iterations of the M16 unfortunately). Many lasted survived combat, with their owners bringing them back after their year tour was up in Vietnam. In Apocalypse Now, Captain Willard (played by Martin Sheen) wears a 6105, akin to the one here.
This history is part – but definitely not the only highly interesting aspect – of the watch’s allure, and that’s before taking into account the 6105’s technical specs.
This 6105 comes with a faithful redention of the original rubber strap by Uncle Seiko, separate NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1976 Seiko 6105-8119 “Captain Willard” Automatic Dive Watch
DIAL: Original Seiko-signed dial, with limited “black rot” on the lume, characterized by a nice even and very faint patina. Original handset, to include its “stoplight” second hand, which retains a faint reddish pink hue.
CASE: Original asymmetric stainless-steel case measures a hefty 46mm x 49.5mm. Case is thankfully in non-machine polished condition, and still maintains most of the original brushed finish. Bezel rotates as designed, and the bezel insert has some wear and small scratches, evidence it was used as designed.
CRYSTAL: Seiko 6105-correct hardlex crystal, no scratches or blemishes.
BAND: This Seiko comes with a rubber strap. This 6105 also comes with a nylon NATO strap.
MOVEMENT: Original 6105 automatic movement, manufactured in November 1976. Watch received a full service in December 2019.
CROWN: Original crown, locks as designed.