The History of BENRUS
Benjamin Lazrus started Benrus (BENjamin LazRUS) in 1921 in New York. At first, Benjamin Lazrus with his two brothers saved up $5,000 and started importing Swiss watch movements to create cases for them in New York City. The headquarters were – and still are – in Manhattan’s Hippodrome building, located in what is known as the jewelry district.
In 1929, the Airman watch was introduced. It had a cut-corner case with stylized eagle-heads in each corner, and fittingly became the unofficial default watch for the National Air Transport (later United Airlines). The same year, BENRUS solidified its position as a household name when one of the greatest baseball players, Babe Ruth, promoted their sportsman’s watch.
The following decades brought additional success, as new BENRUS timepieces became more and more popular. Their Air Chief pilot watch became known as the “Official Watch of Famous Airlines” in the ‘40s, and in the ‘60s they started producing field watches for American soldiers in Vietnam.
Shortly thereafter, BENRUS made a compressor-style dive watch available to the public, and this style of dive watches is seeing a new wave of popularity today.
A Part of History
We all love watches and brands that are part of history, and Benrus has some epic moments.
In 1963, the DNC gifted the late President, John F. Kennedy, a custom made BENRUS watch that became part of his one-of-a-kind collection.
In 1968, Steve McQueen (the king of cool) wore a BENRUS watch in the “Bullitt” action movie.
Where Are BENRUS Watches Made?
BENRUS is headquartered in New York, and the watches are assembled in the USA, using Swiss-made movements.
BENRUS Watch Movements
BENRUS is using Swiss automatic movements, provided by Soprod, Sellita, and ETA. The movement provider influences the price of the BENRUS watches, that’s one of the reasons why you’ll see a price range for their timepieces.
Takeaway: Are BENRUS Watches Good?
Short answer: Yes!
Longer answer: BENRUS watches are great watches in our opinion. Their movements are reliable, and the materials they’re using to create the timepieces are top quality. And of course, let’s not forget the legacy: BENRUS has been part of the American watch making industry since the 1920s, and we’re excited to see their reissued models.
Buyer’s Guide: BENRUS Watches
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Benrus Orbit Robot Skindiver
The Benrus Orbit Robot Skindiver is a show-stopping reissued version of the 1972 original model. The classic design is tastefully updated with modern materials to harmonize vintage and contemporary elements. The cushion case design retains the retro feel of the watch, boasting a comfortable 41 mm width, which works well for most wrist sizes. The brushed stainless steel bezel, case, and bracelet pair beautifully with the grey fumé dial. The dial has a lighter metallic color at the center—connecting it visually back to the case—while progressively getting darker towards the outer edge, providing a great contrast and visual frame. The orange wide baton hour and minute hands make the watch look very robust. It comes equipped with the Soprod P024 Swiss automatic movement, providing a 38-hour power reserve. The Orbit Robot Skindiver is an elegant statement piece.
Read our BENRUS Orbit Robot hands-on review.
Benrus Sea Lord Diver
The Benrus Sea Lord Diver watch was one of the most popular Benrus watches back in the day, and deservedly so. Understated in its simplicity, the design highlights the classic features of a robust dive watch. The overall design makes this watch a versatile addition to a collection as it can easily be dressed up for more formal events, or down for more casual, sporty activities. In other words, it’s a great everyday go-to watch. The 39 mm case width makes it perfectly comfortable for all wrist sizes. The wide baton hour and minute hands pair well with the understated features of the watch, while the black dial and the faux patina for the hour markers counterbalances the ruggedness and brings a touch of elegance. The Benrus Sea Lord comes with the Soprod P024 Swiss automatic movement, providing a 38-hour power reserve.
Benrus Type I
The Benrus Type I watch was developed for the US Military in 1972. It was designed to be more durable than any previous watches and to meet the specific needs of UDT (Underwater Demolitions Team) divers, as well as for use in the field. Although it was produced between 1972 and 1980, it was never released to the general public.
Today, a limited edition is available with the original design, great quality ETA Swiss automatic movement, and a very impressive water resistance of 30 ATM (300 meter).
The Benrus DTU is a field watch with bona fide military heritage, originally issued in 1964 when the US military requested the combat watch with extended service life. This DTU 2A/P field watch is revisited today and is available again with the Sellita SW200 Swiss automatic movement, providing a 38-hour power reserve. The syringe hour and minute hands are an elegant choice for the classic field watch dial design. The double domed acrylic crystal provides an element of vintage, and we absolutely love the removable military compass attached to the NATO strap.