A Closer Look at the Benrus Type I Limited Edition


Benrus designed a military-style watch that also served as a competent diver. The brand has been around since 1921 when Benjamin Lazarus found it in New York City. Since its initial opening, the brand failed to receive mainstream recognition. Still, some hailed it as one of the finest in the city with utilitarian designs and impressive innovations. Benrus delivered the original Type I during the era when Steve McQueen was a superstar. He was frequently seen wearing his Benrus Type I wristwatch. According to Worn and Wound, other variants surfaced through the years. The evolution led to a Type II MIL-W-50717 more recently. Benrus ordered a Benrus Type I reissue in 2020 that offers a vintage appeal in a modern timepiece that is deserving of a closer look.

The 2020 Benrus Type I at a glance

Benrus saw fit to reissue the iconic timepiece out of respect for its history. Watch enthusiasts who shared McQueen’s fondness for the model will heartily agree it was a wise decision. It took a while for the Benrus brand to become recognized. Once it did, there is no going back. The brand has pulled its old catalogs out of the archives and identified vintage models worthy of bringing back for a modern audience with a few tweaks here and there. We now look at the merits of the Benrus Type I overlooked by the masses. It was issued for use by the United States armed forces and delivered to only the most elite units. That alone should stand for something in creating historical value. Perhaps this is why McQueen held the model in such high regard. This timepiece by design can take heavy abuse and continue to perform its necessary functions. It’s time to take a closer look to observe the latest release of the forgotten military diver.

A closer look at the Benrus Type I

We begin with an inspection of the Benrus Type I and its components. New for 2020, the reissue from its original in 1972 has a case that measures nearly 43 mm in diameter, suitable for larger wrist sizes, yet a comfortable fit. Gear Patrol points out that the actual measurement of the width of the case is listed as 42.5 x 47.7 mm, so we won’t quibble about the fractions. The depth of the watch is a sizeable 14.9 mm. It’s constructed of premium 316L stainless steel material with a bead-blasted finish. The crown is a screw-down style to enhance water resistance and has a high-grip textured design that makes it taller and easier to turn. The lug width is 20 mm. The bezel features the same material with a bi-directional style featuring a 12-hour function. It’s an attractive watch that offers a vintage vibe with modern innovations such as replacement materials for the previous acrylic bezel insert and other features. The back of the watch has a stainless steel solid case. You will find engravements of information about the model of the timepiece and other relevant details for authentication.

The dial

The dial features a background that is matte black, with applied dot and stick-style indices that stand out nicely in white. The contrast provides amazing legibility. The luminous coating makes them glow brilliantly when the natural light fades. The chunky arrow hands and thin needle second’s hand are also treated with lume for high visibility in low light conditions such as dusk, or deep water diving. It’s worth noting that the lume has been upgraded from the original tritium to a new and more powerful BW G9 Super-LumiNova. All this is covered with a double domed sapphire crystal lens. The watch is water-resistant to 30 ATM.

The movement

The Benrus Type I Limited Edition is powered by an automatic ETA caliber 2681 movement with a hacking function. It’s a Swiss-made movement that has proven itself to be accurate and dependable. It’s not a fancy movement but it does the job and is designed to provide steadiness and reliability under adverse environmental conditions through thoughtful case design.

Other features of the Benrus Type I Limited Edition

The strap of the Benrus Type I Limited Edition is made in two pieces. It is constructed of seatbelt nylon NATO material for strength and durability. The hardware is also made of 316L stainless steel material to complement the case, lending a bit of symmetry to the attractive black and silver them going on.

A collector’s item in the making

The Benrus Type I Limited Edition wristwatch is destined to be a collector. It is a fairly rare watch and has been since its release for sale to the general public. The watch that was once intended for military personnel from the most elite branches of the service has now been made available to everyone. That is, everyone who is among the first 1,000 takers on this unique military diving watch. It is manufactured in the United States of America and strictly limited to a one-time production run of just 1,000 pieces. Already a collectible piece that gives a nod to the history of military timekeeping, it will likely increase in value if properly maintained over time. The asking price for the new Benrus Type I Limited Edition is set at $1,695.

Donating to a worthy cause

Benrus has most generously set up a charitable agreement to direct part of the proceeds from each sale of the Benrus Type I Limited Edition to a worthy cause. Your purchase will help support the Boulder Crest Foundation. This is an organization that provides support and assistance for veterans of the military diagnosed with PTSD.

Final thoughts

The Benrus Type I from the early 1970s is back in circulation. Not many are available, which makes this modernization of the vintage timepiece worn by Steve McQueen and elite military units all the more desirable. Benrus has made a few notable upgrades, but overall, they’ve maintained the original design nicely.

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