Double Feature: The New Seiko Prospex SPB151 And SPB153 Recast The 'Captain Willard'
Made famous by the film Apocalypse Now, these divers represent a reboot, not a sequel, of the beloved Seiko 6105.
Recently, we took a closer look and Seiko Prospex SNJ029 and SNJ031, both based on the classic 1990-era digital-analog chronograph known affectionately as the Tuna “Arnie” that action star Arnold Schwarzenegger wore in films like Predator and Running Man (HERE).
Now Seiko is adding two more summer blockbusters to its entry-level Prospex Collection – the SPB151 and SPB153, aka the 'Captain Willard.'
Named after the watch Martin Sheen’s character wore in Apocalypse Now, these re-imaginings of the Captain Willard captures the mood of a 1970s dive watch but with a very modern sensibility. For folks just getting into the watch game, this means that you can appreciate the sequel without having to see the original.
Hero On The Half Shell
The original Seiko Turtle was the 6105, which was introduced in 1968. This robust dive watch had water-resistance of 150 meters and a distinctive design with an offset crown and a large, lower crown protector. This shape led to its unofficial moniker, the Turtle.
This stalwart timepiece was a favorite of adventurous types until it went out of production in 1977. At that time, it was most famous because of its association with Japanese explorer Naomi Uemura who wore one on the first successful solo expedition to the North Pole on May 1, 1978.
That is until 1979, when Martin Sheen strapped a 6105 to his wrist in the quintessential Vietnam War movie Apocalypse Now.
For collectors, there is an enduring fascination with military watches from the 1970s. Just last year, the 1972 Rolex GMT-Master that Marlon Brando wore in the same movie sold for $1,952,000 at auction.
And the 6105 has a real history with the armed forces. The watch was popular with American soldiers stationed in Asia during the Vietnam conflict.
Forty-plus years on, the new Prospex SPB151 and SPB153 reflect the esprit de corp of the military in two ways – the SPB151 with a standard-issue black dial and bezel and the less historically accurate SPB163 with an army green bezel and sunburst dial.
One of the things we love about the 2020 Prospex Arnies and the Captain Willards is that, while enthusiasts may be clamoring for re-editions, Seiko is using vintage models as a jumping-off point to create something new.
First of all, these robust, stainless steel Turtles are standard production models, not limited editions. This, and the fact that they are priced in the very democratic $1,000 to $2,000 range, makes them a great everyday choice for the Everyman.
Sure And Steady
Did we mention that these watches are robust? With a 24-jewel, self-winding 6R35 caliber housed in a 42.7mm stainless steel case, this timepiece is built to last. The movement also offers up a lot of energy, with a mechanism that beats at 21,600 vph and has a 70-hour power reserve.
Both the black and olive drab versions feature such practical applications as applied indices and LumiBrite coating on the hands, markers, and bezel for maximum legibility. Additionally, they are water-resistant up to 200m.
It’s also a comfortable watch. Coming in at a size that suits most wrists without overwhelming, the SPB153 comes fitted with a silicone strap while the SPB151 has a stainless steel bracelet, both very wearable options, especially in the summer heat.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)