Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Case

Got a 6105-811x case today. Looks to be in great shape. It's got aftermarket dial, hands, bezel, crystal, etc. and that is exactly what I was looking for. I knew I would be replacing all of those parts anyway, so why pay I premium for all those original parts? I could have chopped an all-original for parts, but that just wouldn't have felt right.

I think I want the case bead-blasted, but I've never seen a bead-blasted case in person. Luckily, someone is sending me an example to take a look at. Assuming I like the look, I'll send my case off. Should be a few weeks until I get it back.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Dial

I needed a tan or cream dial for the desert diver look. Unfortunately, custom dials for the 6105 are pretty hard to come by. I looked around quite a bit and just couldn't find any. However, it turns out that with a few changes (cutting off the dial feet and gluing it directly to the movement) you can use a dial for a 6309 diver, for which custom dials are readily available.

I had seem some already, from Harold Ng (aka Yobokies), so I contacted him and he pointed me to this post. I picked the #6 tan dial. I liked the simplicity and obvious "mod" look of that dial. Not to mention, the other tan dial in that post wouldn't have worked since the 6105 only has a date wheel, and that dial has a window large enough for a day wheel and date wheel. I paid, and it was on it's way.

But, because I was completely obsessing over this mod, I continued to look. I stumbled upon Bob Thayer Jr.'s site and saw some of his amazing work. In particular was this modded 6105 (one of the few I have ever seen). I realized that Bob had custom painted (or stripped) the original 6105 dial to make it much simpler. He removed the minute markers, and all other text except for the "Seiko" signage. It looks really great. I hadn't even considered that could be done to a dial.

I immediately decided to contact Bob and see if he could take an aftermarket 6105 strip all the signage and minute markers from it and paint the face tan/cream. I got a reply very quickly saying that was no problem! I should have a very unique dial, and if it looks half as good as I have it pictured in my mind, it should be pretty slick.

My photoshop skills aren't that sharp, and I did this quick, but the here is an original dial, next to what my custom dial should look like, roughly.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mod Squad

I understand this will be met with some controversy, but I am planning on heavily modifying a Seiko 6105-811x series diver. The one saving grace that might put many purists at ease is that I will be purchasing a 6105 that already has an aftermarket dial, hands, bezel insert and crystal. So unless you are someone who believes the only right thing to do with a watch like that is find all original parts and put it back together again, you should be OK with this modification.

My original idea was a "stealth" mod - make every black. I was even considering a black PVD coating (but that's $$$). Then I was just going to get it bead-blasted, add a colorful dial, some colorful hands, etc. But then I started thinking it might start to look ugly with all those colors. And I've seen a ton of black dials + orange hour hands mods.

What I think I have settled on is a "desert diver" mod. Yes, these have been done before numerous times, but I think for good reason. They tend to look pretty sharp if done well. To get an idea of what I am talking about, here are some examples.

So that is my current thought. I may change my mind, who knows. Time to start looking for parts!

Can of Worms

After getting my first Seiko Diver (a 6105-8000), I started reading more about them, and looking at more pictures of them, and researching the particulars of each model, etc. etc. It turns out that while my 6105-8000 is sought after, the real grail watch is the 6105-811x series. This is essentially the same watch, but the case is asymmetrical to provide the crown with some protection, and the movement "hacks" (when you pull the crown out, the second hand stops. This allows for a more precise setting of the time).

Back in the day, it was a pretty famous watch, too. It was worn by Martin Sheen in Apocolypse Now, and supposedly given to Navy Seals at some point. Whether that is true or not, it was a favorite in the military. It is known for being incredible sturdy and there are many anecdotes about the abuse one can put these watches through.
My trusty 1966 6105 Diver has withstood one Alaskan plane crash (small plane) after being left in the woods "lost" for 6 months after it broke from my wrist and flew out on crash impact until we could come back and salvage the aircraft in the spring. (Lived in Alaska 24 years)Another was our helicopter went down in the North Atlantic in the late 70's during a storm and a trip to the offshore oil platforms, we were in a raft for 7 hours in heavy seas and freezing spray. A refinery explosion in France in the 80's when several people close by were killed and my Seiko once again became airborne and was found several hundred feet away - "Two Plane Crashes And An Explosion"
I can't quite explain why I became obsessed with getting an all-original 6105-811x, but I did. And wouldn't you know, one showed up on the Seiko & Citizens forum the very next day. If I believed in fate, I would have said it was fate.

I've been wearing it for a few days now to see how well it keeps time. So far so good. Only losing about 10sec a day. I am considering it sending it off to Jack at IWW for a spa treatment, but haven't pulled the trigger yet.

My Introduction To Seiko Divers

I don't know why he thought of it, but it struck my brother that he had a watch of my paternal grandfather's that he hadn't paid particular attention to since he got it. My birthday was coming up, and knowing that I am somewhat sentimental, he asked me if I might be interested in it as a gift.

He showed me some pictures of the watch...

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Knowing it was my grandfather's. and thinking it looked pretty cool, I said "sure."

So, my brother asked a watch buddy of his about it, and found out that it was an often sought after watch. To some, it was even a grail watch (the first time I had ever heard the term). He sent it off to Jack at IWW for a "spa" treatment. I think it was almost a year later when...

Wow. I was stunned. The watch is beautiful, and as far as we know, all-original except for the crystal. We even managed to find a NOS waffle strap for it. Unfortunately, the rubber must have been too old, and the strap split soon after I started wearing it. It is now on a bracelet.