Editor’s Note: Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH) and Baselworld 2020 are canceled but that hasn’t stopped watch brands large and small from debuting their new wares. To stay on top of this year’s best new watch releases, visit our tag page.
One of Seiko’s most popular and famous vintage dive watches has finally returned in a form that feels in line with the spirit of the original. Nicknamed the “Captain Willard” for the character who wore one in the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, the new interpretation is not limited, it’s priced alongside the brand’s mid-tier Prospex watches at just over $1,000, and it’s sized a bit smaller and more wearable than ever. Altogether, it looks like a win.
The story has a familiar ring within the watch industry: First, Seiko’s 6105 dive watch was an inexpensive but robust beater watch popular among US soldiers in Vietnam (as portrayed in Francis Ford Coppola’s film). Then, some decades later, it developed a cult following among vintage collectors. Finally, when it was reintroduced in 2019, it possessed the same iconic looks but a totally different character than the original, since it cost over $4,000 and was chock full of high-end, luxury features.
At last, with the newest releases, the watch for the masses is back. Its automatic movement is the 6R35 found in adjacent Prospex watches, and its case is actually downsized from the original 45mm to 42.7mm — and it’s thinner, too. It doesn’t have the zaratzu polishing of the snazzy limited edition, but why would you need that on a watch like this? Seiko’s choice of sapphire crystal makes it feel properly robust and modern, and of course it’s rated to 200m of water resistance and ready to get beat up.
At $1,100 (SPB153) on a strap with a military-green dial and bezel, or $1,300 (SPB151) in black on a bracelet, these are still a good step above circa-$500 watches like the Turtle and Samurai. Since these aren’t limited editions, however, fans who might have hoped for an even more affordable “Willard” might eventually be able to find a deal.
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