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 and all original 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. Thankfully - and although this watch has seen some use - it suffers minimally from above, and besides, these watches were meant to be used, not hidden away in a safe!
Now – on to that nickname During the Vietnam War, Seiko watches among other brands were offered in the U.S. military PX’s (Post Exchanges) on bases in Southeast Asia, including Rolex and Tudor. The 6105 was slightly cheaper during this era than a Rolex or Tudor Submariner, but with a reputation for providing no-nonsense functionality with a build quality that could withstand the harsh climate - Army-issued watches were known to fail in the jungle environment.
In Francis Ford Coppola's seminal 1979 film, Apocalypse Now, Martin Sheen’s character, Captain Willard wears a 6105, akin to the one here. He wasn't the only one - many service members, to include U.S. special forces and early Underwater Demolition Team (UDT, predecessor to the U.S. Navy SEALs) members wore the Seiko 6105 during the same conflict. Many 6105s survived combat, with their owners bringing them back after their year tour was up in Vietnam.
This 6105 comes with a rubber Uncle Seiko strap, nylon NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1976 Seiko 6105-8119 “Captain Willard” Automatic Dive Watch
DIAL: Original Seiko-signed dial, with no “black rot” on the lume, characterized by a nice even and very faint patina. Original handset, to include its “stoplight” second hand.
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 insert has nearly no wear.
CRYSTAL: Seiko 6105-correct hardlex crystal, no scratches or blemishes.
BAND: This Seiko comes with an Uncle Seiko rubber strap, as well as a black nylon NATO strap - all with stainless-steel hardware.
MOVEMENT: Original 6105 automatic movement, manufactured in March 1976. Watch received a full service in November 2020.
CROWN: Original crown, locks as designed.