Hunting Down a Seiko 6105-8000

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The one that got away—we all have one (most of us probably have a few). We covered this in an episode of The Worn & Wound Podcast last year, discussing the watches we sold and regretted, that we passed on only to mourn our shortsightedness, or pieces hastily traded away in pursuit of a new object of affection only to realize, often too late, that the grass is always greener. I loved listening to that episode; it captured the fleeting nature of watch collecting and trading. It also brought a few pieces to mind for me: the Jo Siffert Autavia I didn’t have $2,500 for at the time, a watch I waited years to get then flipped when the market was “high” only to realize it was only getting started, and the many Speedmasters I’ve ignored for too long.

Of those, none really nagged at me like the Seiko 6105-8000 Proof/Proof I’d traded away. The other pieces were opportunities, cool watches to wear, or provenance pieces worthy of a story over a pint, but the 6105 appealed to me on a personal level. Its military history and connection to a timeless movie, its aesthetics, and its place among Seiko’s rich dive watch history were all big pluses in my book.

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The first of Seiko’s 6105 watches came in two references, the 6105-8000 and 6105-8009. Both feature an symmetrical cushion case, unlike the later 6105-8110/8119, which has an asymmetrical case. Differences between the 8000/8009 versions are “Water Proof” versus “Water Resist” on the dials and case backs (thus the the “Proof/Proof,” “Proof/Resist,” and “Resist/Resist” designations often seen in sales postings). Also, the 6105-8009 benefits from the upgraded 6105B movement that added hacking to the 17-jewel base caliber.

“When a friend unexpectedly proposed a trade for a contemporary dive watch he knew I’d been trying to acquire for years, I couldn’t pass it up, and off went my 6105. But that’s not the end of that story.”

My original 6105 was  my second foray into vintage watches and my first ever dive watch. I lusted after it for a while and finally popped for one after a few dry years for watch acquisitions. I instantly loved how the cushion case wore, nestling against my 7.25-inch wrist. I also loved the way it looked, and I would often admire the case and dial whenever I did a time check. It became my daily wearer for all things that ironically did not involve water. When it came time to take a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia for nearly a month, it seemed only fitting that the Seiko make the trip with me given its reputation with soldiers who’d served there. I wore it nearly the entire time I was in Vietnam and it appears in a myriad of photos from that trip.

A few months after I returned, however, I noticed that the watch was spending more and more time in the watch box. I’d been spending a lot of time in/on the water and I was reaching for watches with the proper water resistance that I did not have to worry about. When a friend unexpectedly proposed a trade for a contemporary dive watch he knew I’d been trying to acquire for years, I couldn’t pass it up, and off went my 6105. But that’s not the end of that story.

It’s utilitarian, for sure, but the 6105 also shows how on their game Seiko was in the late 60s and early 70s.

Even as I agreed to the trade, my intent was to purchase another 6105-8000/8009 in the near future. I knew a modern dive watch was more practical and would get the lion’s share of wrist time (that piece ended up traveling the country with me on a yearlong road trip and was the watch I wore), but the 6105 was sentimental. Prices were reasonable and I kept an eye on the forums, always saying, “I should really get one soon, but there’s no rush . . . ” Little did I know.

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Early in 2017, a little over two years after trading away my 6105, I began my search for another one in earnest only to be dumbfounded at the price having more than doubled. I lurked, set alerts, made offers, and even reached out to the friend who I’d traded with. There was no way around it. The market had changed. I tried to pivot, delving into the 70m-cased little brothers of the 6105, eventually acquiring a 6117-8000 NavigatorTimer GMT. It became one of my favorites, but it didn’t scratch the 6105 itch. The hunt continued.

Finally, in mid-Fall, I found one example on eBay that looked flawless. I inundated the seller with all sorts of questions; I wanted to make sure it wasn’t too good to be true. eBay is a minefield for vintage watches, and you have to be especially careful with vintage Seiko. The 6105 in all its variants is rife with redials, aftermarket hands, shoddy servicing, and sketchy sellers.

“The watch was nearly flawless. The dial looked nearly brand new with gentle aging of the luminous paint on the indices lending a reassuring authenticity.”

The seller was very forthcoming. This 6105 was a Proof/Proof he’d found at an estate sale the previous week, and it was still on the original waffle strap. The dial, hands, and lume looked stunning—in fact, it looked so good that I was concerned about authenticity. But, after a late night pixel-peeping on all the photos provided, everything checked out. In fact, it looked like the waffle strap had cracked at the hole the original owner used and he’d placed it in a drawer never to be taken out again. Or at least that was the narrative that started forming in my head. I decided it was worth the risk and off went a PayPal payment.

The watch still sat on its original waffle strap which had long ago hardened to a point of being unusable, regardless of the fact that indeed the most used hole had cracked.

When eBay alerted me that the 6105-8000 had arrived, I was excited, but also nervous that I’d just figuratively lit a sizeable amount of money on fire. My gamble had paid off and paid off well. The watch was nearly flawless. The dial looked nearly brand new with gentle aging of the luminous paint on the indices lending a reassuring authenticity.

The dial of the 6105-8000/8009 is one of my very favorites from Seiko’s catalog. The indices are bold, lume-filled rectangles with applied silver surrounds. The Seiko logo is applied as well. Stick hour and minute hands reach out to touch their respective indices and are paired with a distinctive “stop light” second hand for extra legibility.

The cushion case has circular brushing on the top, which is offset by polished sides.

In the world of vintage watches, a lusted after piece can fast become unobtanium. While I paid more for this example than I did for my first one, I am happy that I was able to find another one, and this time in even better condition. I certainly have become more thoughtful about which pieces leave the collection as a result.

For me, the big question has become whether I’ll wear it in the way I do my other watches. It runs well, but given its condition, I have to assume it’s never been serviced, so I’ll treat it as such until it’s sent off for some time at the spa. With these older pieces becoming harder and harder to find, there is a caretaker aspect that has to at least be considered. When it’s back, I’ll decide if it’s going to get the tool-watch treatment. As they say, time will tell.

Photography by Jon Gaffney

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Jon is a native New Englander who enjoys traveling as much as returning home. He has a passion for watches that his significant other kindly tolerates whilst shaking her head in consternation. A tendency to plow through life with little finesse has led him to appreciate and pursue the utility of a good tool watch.
jongaffney
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Review / Vintage

Affordable Vintage: Seiko 6105

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