Seiko Introduces New Versions of the “Capt. Willard” as Permanent Parts of the Prospex Lineup

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There are some watches in the Seiko-sphere that have truly outsized histories and reputations. And Seiko, in that way that Seiko does so well, has a tendency to tease their loyal followers, bringing back classic watches in fits and starts. The formula, at this point, is well known: a limited edition version of an iconic heritage model at a price point set for the serious and well heeled collectors, followed a year or two later by an affordable but still very well executed version for the masses. And so it is with the Capt. Willard, known in the Seiko catalog as the reference 6105 (Christoph McNeill went in depth on this reference in an “Affordable Vintage” column here). The iconic watch worn by Martin Sheen’s Benjamin Willard character in Apocalypse Now returned for a hot minute last year as the SLA033. Priced at over $4,000, that watch was prohibitively expensive for many. But now, with the SPB151 and SPB153 seen here, the design returns at a more accessible price that Seiko fans, cinema lovers, and dive watch nerds should be pleased with.


Seiko SPB151 & SPB153

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial: Black, green
  • Dimensions: 42.7mm
  • Crystal: Sapphire     
  • Water Resistance: 200 meters 
  • Crown: Screw down               
  • Movement: 6R35 
  • Strap/bracelet: Stainless steel bracelet, rubber strap
  • Price: $1,100 (SPB153), $1,300 (SPB151)
  • Reference Number: SPB153, SPB151
  • Expected Release: July 

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The 6105, and these new watches that pay tribute to it, have an appearance that might strike many unfamiliar with vintage Seiko as kind of wild, but if you’re already comfortable with the various Tunas and Turtles that the brand has produced over the years, you’ll likely find that the Willard slots in nicely with a group of oversized and exaggerated cushion case designs. The oval case shape with a thin (by today’s standards) dive bezel and a prominent asymmetrical crown guard absolutely scream 1970s, and even without the Willard’s famous movie heritage, it’s easy to picture a watch like this being worn by military personnel. It’s tough, reliable, and easy to read, making it an obvious choice for people who need a watch solely for its intended use. 

While last year’s SLA033 was outfitted with Seiko’s high end 8L35 movement and finished with Grand Seiko-esque Zaratsu polishing, the new SPB151 and SPB153 are decidedly more value driven. The 6R35 movement inside beats at a lower frequency than the 8L35, but still offers 70 hours of power reserve and has a reputation, like most mass produced Seiko calibers, for being highly reliable. The finishing on the new Willards is less flashy than the limited edition, but that’s much more in line with this watch’s tool watch roots.

As mentioned above, this watch is big, but at just under 43mm it shouldn’t be unwieldy for folks who are used to Seiko’s dive watch lineup. And the design of the case, without traditional lugs, should make its measurements plenty forgiving. That said, you don’t wear a watch like this to be discreet – the Willard is all about wrist presence. It popped off the screen in Apocalypse Now because of its size and shape, and you can expect it to be noticed in real life in much the same way. 

Seiko is releasing two versions of the watch: the SPB151 features a black dial and bezel with a stainless steel bracelet, and the SPB153 has an olive green dial and bezel, and is mounted on a rubber strap. Personally, I dig the green version, and love the way the lines of the case come alive when framed by the rubber. 

The SPB151 and SPB153 will be available in July at Seiko retailers. Seiko

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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