Seiko SPB151: A Year in the Water

How does the Willard stack up underwater?

For many, Seiko is the quintessential maker of dive watches. Yes, the uninitiated might look to Rolex and Omega, but for many of us in the watch-mad community, Seiko is the undisputed champion. The Japanese brand has become legendary for producing innovative, no-frills timing tools and their use by everyone from commercial divers to Hollywood stars. As I’m sure was the case for most of you, my first dive watch was a Seiko SKX. I bought it second-hand in Spain and promptly let it sit in a drawer for the next two years. However, despite not wearing it, it did spark a growing love for Seiko’s classic dive watches. During a catch-up with a friend, I saw his Seiko 6105-8110, and it was love at first sight.


Unfortunately, the prices on those are rising fast, and, as with all vintage watches, one has to be aware that without some serious servicing, they’re not as adventure-proof as they may once have been. With that in mind, imagine my joy when Seiko announced the release of the SPB15x line in 2020!

Seiko SPB151 Specs

Case Width




Case Thickness


Lug Width


Water Resistance







Seiko LumiBrite


Seiko 6R35



I was working in a small dive shop in southwest England and training to become a PADI divemaster. After a weekend evening with a beer or two, I decided to surf eBay to see if anything interesting came up. A word to the wise; don’t drink and online shop… Nonetheless, this particular evening came up with an SPB151 (the closest of the new models to the old 6105) for almost half the retail price. It was being sold without the bracelet or the original packaging, but the deal was too good to pass up. After a week, I returned home to find a small parcel waiting for me. In the two years since I have been on far more adventures than I could ever have anticipated, the 151 has been on my wrist on pretty much every step.


At the very end of 2020, I signed up for my dive instructor course at a dive shop on the island of Utila, Honduras. The 151 spent every day in and around the water for three months. Despite the claims that dive watches are obsolete these days, I found it very useful to wear a watch and a dive computer as there are several timed skills and exercises that an instructor must use to assess students. Additionally, most dive computers are relatively large, so the 151 was much easier to wear daily.


What struck me most, however, was just how the watch made me feel. That might sound a little weird to all of you sensible people out there but hear me out. Most people choose clothes based on how they make the individual feel and what message the clothing gives off. Having read endless stories about the derring-do of divers, scientists, explorers, and service members wearing Seiko dive watches in the ’60s and ’70s, wearing my 151 as I spent hours underwater gave me a little kick. I might not be patrolling the Mekong or crossing the Arctic solo, but I was having my own adventure there.


Soon after leaving Utila, I found my way into a job working as a tour guide in the Silfra fissure, Iceland. If anywhere on Earth is designed for adventures, Iceland is. After a tip-off from a far greater watch reviewer and adventurer than me, I found a Nato strap long enough to fit over the cuff of a drysuit. Given the nature of the job during the height of the tourist season, wearing a watch on the job was incredibly useful. Pacing tours to line up with the daily schedule was critical to a smooth workload, and the 151 came into its own yet again.


This time, however, downtime wasn’t spent drinking cold beer and snorkeling but visiting active volcanoes, ice climbing, and hiking on glaciers. Dive watches may have been designed for a specific purpose, but these Seiko designs’ ruggedness and lack of fuss lends a do-anything functionality to them. With the first scratches and dents appearing on the watch, my 151 became more and more a part of my adventures to the point where just checking the time reminded me of all that this watch represents to me.


As 2023 gets going, I am moving to Australia to work as a dive instructor again, and the 151 is at the top of my list of things to take (Ok, maybe not the top, but it’s the highest after clothing, toiletries, and dive gear). If I were ever to try to take up the title of being a one-watch guy, I know without a doubt which watch would remain, and I hope one day to be able to pass it on, covered in scars and memories, to the next generation. It shows that sometimes the small things in life can inspire the most extraordinary experiences.

Check out Will’s studio review of the Seiko SPB151 at The Watch Clicker here

Check out the Seiko website here

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