Reviewing the Seiko Prospex SPB151 new Willard Modern 1970 Recreation
The Modern Willard SPB151
Seiko doesn't write a lot about it, heck they never reference the name Willard, but it is a very important watch in Seiko diving history. Why they don't call it the Willard is understandable, it is probably an issue with the copyright, since the name comes from a major motion picture that really has nothing to do with Seiko. The Willard is an important watch and if you read the literature all Seiko really says about it is that it is, "A much respected diver's watch." How much of an anticlimactic statement it that? No matter, the statement, Seiko did reintroduce the Willard again, this time as model SPB151.
2019 Limited Edition the SLA033 Willard
In 2019 Seiko released a limited edition version of the 1970's Willard. They upgraded the watch with a basic Grand Seiko movement the 8L35. These watches retailed for $4,250 and re-ignited the passion for the Willard watch. A year later, Seiko has come up with two new versions the SPB151 and the SPB153.
Why is the Willard important?
The roots of the new SPB151 come from the Willard. The Willard created a different style of dive watch. The Seiko Willard was really known and the 6105. The distinct cushion shape case was the grandfather of one of Seiko's most popular dive watches the Seiko Turtle. The 6105 is also where Seiko moved he crown down to the 4 o'clock position. Something you will see in many of Seiko watches including the SKX series and the new Seiko 5 sports models. The Willard is where the watch This is Seiko's heritage and many future Seiko dive watches have the DNA of the Willard.
The Seiko SPB151 is another remake of the Willard. This model is much more affordable than the SLA033. The main difference in the watches. The SPB151 takes a step down from the advanced movement of the SLA033. The SPB151 has the 6R35 movement. The watch is also a few millimeters smaller than the 2019 Willard. At first I wasn't to crazy about this remake, they just released the SLA033 and it felt to soon. Even though the movements are totally different, it just felt like the same packaging. Kind of like when Jaguar was making cars that looked like Aston Martins. When you look at the remakes of the 1965 dive or the 1968 dive Seiko changed a lot about the color scheme and design. With the SPB151 is the same color scheme as the original Willard and the SLA033, only with a metal band.
When I got the SPB151 watch in hand I was surprised it felt like a different watch. The watch is slightly smaller 45mm vs 42.7mm and some how feels like it hugs the wrist a little better than the previous Willards. While I was worried that the watches would be to similar, I was wrong. The SPB151 feels different from the SLA033 and also feels different from the modern Seiko Turtles. The band is a nice improvement over other stainless Seiko bracelets. The watch has a great heritage feel except for the "X" Prospex logo. The watch overall has a great refined look with a more rugged appearance than the SLA033. A great watch at a fantastic price point.