Helson’s modern interpretation of the Seiko 6105-8000 is a well-designed, sturdy, and street-ready dive watch offered at a reasonable price.
Whenever Helson announces the release of a new model, we here at worn&wound can’t wait to get our hands on it. That anticipation is built on the foundation of well-designed and tough-built tool watches the young, Hong Kong-based brand has released in the past few years. Readers may remember our previous reviews of the Skindiver, Sharkmaster 1000, and Shark Diver, all of which impressed us with their build quality and value for price. For these reasons, we were excited to get the Spear Diver in for some wrist time and a full assessment.
The Helson catalog is essentially split into two groups of watches: sturdy, contemporary divers built to easily transition from desk to deep, and modern recreations of iconic dive watches from the past. The watch we’re looking at today falls into the latter group. Having produced popular homages to classic divers from Omega, Blancpain, and Certina, Helson this time takes on the ever-popular Seiko 6105-8000 (or -8009, depending on where it was sold). The earlier of two 6105 case designs, the 8000/9 was produced from 1968 to 1970, making it both older and less common than its younger brother the 8110/9, whose production ran from 1971 until 1977. With the Spear Diver, Helson recreates the lines of the 6105-8000/9 in a modern and thoughtful way, preserving the appeal of the original while updating it to modern standards.
Helson Spear Diver Review
Case: Brushed 316L Steel
Movement: Miyota 9015
Bezel: Unidirectional, 120 clicks, lumed insert
Crystal: Sapphire, 2.5mm double-domed, inside AR coated
Strap: Rubber strap and shark mesh bracelet included
Water Res.: 300m/1000ft
Dimensions: 41mm x 47.5mm
Lug Width: 20mm
Warranty: 12 month limited international warranty
The Spear Diver case is cut from 316L surgical stainless steel and feels adequately heavy in the hand. Unlike most other Helson watches, the case feels sturdy without feeling brutish. This refined size is a reflection of the original watch’s 1960s design, from a time before casual dive watches became the beefier type we’re more familiar with today. The portions of the case that extend beyond the edge of the dial and movement within are thinner than the middle of the case, which decreases the overall weight of the watch and makes the case very comfortable to wear. The finish is brushed and smooth. The caseback features information about the watch, movement, and serial number, as well as an engraved figure of the watch’s namesake. As always, Helson has included little details that remind you of the care and thought they put into making the watch.
The most obvious physical change Helson made from the original Seiko is moving the crown from the 4-o’clock position to 3-o’clock. I can’t imagine why they decided to made this change. On a case like this that is slimmer on the sides than the top and bottom, the large crown right at 3:00 sticks out jarringly and draws your attention away from the rest of the beautiful watch. The original 4:00 crown position of the 6105 makes a much more streamlined and visually appealing case. The crown is large and affords good grip between your fingers. Is screws down with two and a half or three full rotations and has multiple gaskets to increase water resistance.
Dial, Bezel, and Hands
The feature of the Spear Diver that most recognizably links it to the Seiko 6105 is the dial. Not surprisingly, it has also been the most talked about part of the watch among collectors. The Spear Diver is available in two dial configurations – the Original and the Frame. The Original is as it sounds, a true recreation of the original Seiko 6105 dial, with large, rectangular hour markers made from stamped steel and filled with luminous material. For the Frame, Helson has taken the Seiko marker shapes and produced almost a mirror image of the original design. At first glance, it may appear that the hour markers are painted directly onto the dial, but in fact they are much more detailed. Each marker is a recessed space cut into the dial itself. The lume is applied into the recesses, so it actually sits below the level of the dial. The idea is great, and the execution is perfect. It has to be seen close up or in person to be fully appreciated. It looks simple and modern while still preserving the feeling of the original dial. While some buyers may prefer the more classic look of the Original, I think the Frame offers a more unique, contemporary, and all together better look.
The bezel fits snugly to the case and turns counterclockwise with 120 positions, theoretically enabling timing down to 30-second increments. The knurling on the edge of the bezel is small but affords good grip with bare hands (I didn’t try turning it with gloves on). The bezel insert has dashed indices at the 5-minute marks and numeric indices at the 10-minute marks. All of the indicies are lumed with the same bright Super Luminova as the dial markers and hands, so when this things gets glowing, it’s really a sight to see.
The hands are fairly pedestrian on an otherwise highly detailed watch. They are simple baton hands filled with Super Luminova and are polished steel. The polished finish contrasts with the brushed finish of the case, and, while it does make the hands stand out from the dial and case, it leaves me wondering if the watch would look better with brushed steel hands.
At the heart of the Spear Diver is the Miyota 9015 automatic movement. This movement has been featured in many watches by Helson and other boutique brands and has a reputation for being a solid time-keeper. The rotor winds smoothly but loudly (you may find yourself flicking your wrist to see how long you can get the rotor to spin, a challenge I’ve given myself many times). The watch displays time and date, the latter of which is shown in a window inside the marker at the 6-o’clock position. This is a very attractive design feature that feels right. The date isn’t just floating out there on the dial somewhere; it’s placed nicely in its little “box,” easily found and read when you need to check the day.
Straps and Wearability
Helson ships the Spear Diver with two bands: a rubber, Tropic-style strap and a shark mesh bracelet. Multiple extensions for the bracelet are provided, so fitting it perfectly to your wrist is possible. The links of the bracelet are big openly spaced, giving the bracelet lots of movement and making it very wearable. The rubber strap is very flexible and provides more buckle holes than you will every need; fitting won’t be an issue with this strap. The rubber is soft and breathes well, making it a good option for summertime or (as the watch was really intended) around the water. The combination of a well-designed case and comfortable straps make the Spear Diver a very enjoyable watch to wear.
Remaking classic watches can be a tricky game. In the past, Helson has reimagined dive watches that original examples of which cost anywhere from a couple grand (Turtle / Certina DS) to tens of thousands (Skindiver / Fifty Fathoms). The Spear Diver is the first watch Helson has produced where vintage examples of the original watch can easily be found at equal or less cost than the Helson remake. This point has made the Spear Diver a tough buy for many collectors and enthusiasts. However, that imbalance is not likely to last long. As prices of original 6105-8000/9s continue to go up, the Spear Diver will be a great modern alternative to the old Seiko.
When assessing the Spear Diver, one also has to consider it as its own watch, separate from the watch to which it pays tribute. And alone, it’s a good watch. The case is solidly built and comfortable, despite the unfortunately-placed crown. The dial is at once classic and modern (in the Frame variant). The lume is strong and bright, making this thing glow like a torch when the lights are off. It’s comfortable to wear and looks serious without being flashy. If you’re in the market for a good, dependable, classically designed watch that will look equally great whether you’re typing at a computer or spearing a fish below the waves, keep the Helson Spear Diver in mind.
written and photographed by Brandon Cripps @brandoncripps