Meet The Benrus Type I

Meet The Benrus Type I

The historic American brand is reissuing its most sought-after military timepiece: the Type I.

By Rhonda Riche

Military watches are cool. With their (usually) black dials and easy-to-read layouts, they look cool. And while war is never a good thing, there is a certain romance in wearing a timepiece with a connection to the armed forces.

This “coolness factor” is why we are so excited that Benrus has reissued the Type I dive and field watch – a purpose-built, mil-spec classic produced from 1972 through 1980.

Just My Type

The original Benrus Type I was created in 1972 after the promulgation of MIL-W-50717, an equipment design standard issued by the United States Department of Defense for a combination field and diving watch for military personnel. The mil-spec order was a challenge to fulfill because, at the time, it had the most detailed list of requirements ever issued.

For starters, it had to be larger, waterproof, shockproof, self-winding, and highly legible. And to meet the needs of covert organizations like the CIA and specialized teams like the Navy SEALs and Army Rangers, the new specifications also required a depth rating of 1,200 feet (which was unheard of prior to the Type I), perfect performance at an altitude of 35,000 feet, and an automatic movement that could resist physical and temperature shock.

Benrus was the only brand that was able to meet these exacting standards.

Benrus produced two models for the DoD: the Type I and Type II.

Amazingly, the original Type I was so well-executed that no design changes were made during the almost two decades it was in production. The Type I of 2021 preserves the same no-nonsense spirit as the original. Powered by a dependable Swiss ETA 2681 hacking automatic movement, this reissue has a sturdy 42.50mm stainless steel asymmetric case with a bead-blasted finish. The face also recreates the original lean look with its bidirectional rotating hour bezel.

There are a few upgrades to the new Type I, like the double-domed sapphire crystal, but they only enhance reliability while leaving the original design specs intact. Placed side-by-side, you would be hard-pressed to tell them apart.

Finally, the new Type I has a 40-hour power reserve, water-resistant to 30 ATM, comes on a black two-piece nylon seatbelt NATO strap, and is assembled in the good ol’ US of A.

Military Reissue

Thanks to its super-solid case, ultra-legible dial, and easy-to-use features like the deeply notched bezel and high grip crown, the Type I was a favorite of GIs. But it was only after it ceased production that it became a classic among field and dive watch enthusiasts.

Another quirk that makes the Type I so attractive to collectors is that it was only ever available to military personnel. That is, until now.

Priced at $1,695, the new Benrus Type I very accessible to civilians. Although it is a limited edition of just 1,000 pieces, so you’ll have to act fast to get your hands on one.

Sales from the Benrus Type I help support the Boulder Crest Foundation, a non-profit that works to ensure combat veterans, first responders, and their families can live the lives they want in the aftermath of trauma.

The Benrus Type I is available now from Benrus’ website.

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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