San Martin vs Steeldive "Captain Willard" Turtle watch review/comparison by Peter

Posted by Arno . on

We have seen the very common “Captain Willard” homage all around but the 2 homages that have generated the most talk are the ones made by the brands: San Martin and Steeldive. I myself have not owned a Steeldive so Peter have kindly shared with me his review for these 2 watches and I hereby share this with the wider watch community. Peter owns these 2 watches. (He has since gave the Steeldive away to his brother so photos included in this review are added by me)

San Martin Overall watch review comparison with SteeldiveaSan Martin Overall watch review comparison with Steeldivea

This very detailed comparison for the 2 watches was done immediately when Peter received his San Martin “Captain Willard” 6105 Turtle DiverPeter’s quick comparison is as follows:

1) Case

The cases on both the Steeldive and San Martin are of course very similar.


2) Crown and crown guard

San Martin: 

San Martin Overall watch review comparison with Steeldivea


San Martin Overall watch review comparison with Steeldive

The main difference being the crown, which on the SM is 1mm larger, which is significant when side by side. This results in a bigger cut out for the crown, which makes the case appear different from the side, from where the crown guards are.

The one place the SD comes out on top is the crown action. Upon receiving the SM,I wound it with the crown. When winding, it felt like you are using the date quickset function. I then pulled it out to set the time, and when advancing the hands; with every turn, it felt like the date was changing, though of course it wasn't.


3) Case back

San Martin:
San Martin Overall watch review comparison with Steeldivea


San Martin Overall watch review comparison with Steeldive

The case backs are similar with the SM being a cut above in quality.


4) Bezel

The bezels are equally good in their action. The SM is slightly more pleasing to myself, but the SD has full lume, so no real winner there.


5) Crystal

I would prefer a flat crystal myself on the SM. I don't, however, like the crystal sitting out of the bezel on the SD. So, again they are in a tie.


6) Dial

San Martin:

San Martin Overall watch review comparison with Steeldive


San Martin Overall watch review comparison with Steeldive

The big difference between the two has to be the dial. The SM is so far ahead of the SD, it's not even close.

By placing the minute markers on the rehaut or chapter ring, they have given the dial the illusion of being much larger. This allows SM to use larger hour markers and with the different lume colour, the result is night and day. Also, it appears that SD tried to be too much like SEIKO, resulting in slightly misaligned markers and a date that only just sits in the date cut out.


Overall, it was also nice to receive a proper, signed and dated, Two year warranty card.

I'd say,in my opinion, the San Martin is about 25-30% better than the Steeldive.



Additional updates from Peter in the following day:

After nearly 24 hours, I think the San Martin may actually be better than my first appraisal.


I'm lucky to have an original 6105-81110 and now I can enjoy wearing it again without the worry of a vintage timepiece on the wrist.

The SM has a lot of the values which the 8110 was built around.

The SD appears to be built around Seiko's values when building the modern turtle series; Misaligned dials, bezels, date window, etc.


In this case, SM is really very good, far better than Seiko in its sub $1000 dollar divers, I believe. San Martin is the perfect example of a mass produced, cheapish, but devilishly well spec-ed watch that happens to be built by people who are obviously passionate and proud of their product. That is what is important, and the difference between them and most other manufacturers at this level.


One thing I didn't notice straight away, was that the dial appears anywhere from electric green to flat black, depending on background lighting, a fantastic effect.

At the same time, the bezel goes between olive and black, very classy.


Share this post

← Older Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.