Evaluation: the Benrus Sort I Reissue

I’m going to kick off this evaluate with an admission that I’ve lengthy been keen on the Benrus Sort I and II MIL-W-50717 designs. A definitive navy instrument dive watch by way of one of the most overdue, nice, even though just lately re-resurrected American watch brands, I’ve encountered a large number of antique fashions and different equivalent watches that experience descended from the similar attempted and true mil-spec over time, and feature at all times admired them. It’s the nearest there may be to an iconic American dive watch, and in its blunt, overbuilt, no-fuss kind-of-way, type of the very best watch for that honor. So, relating to the pattern of the 2020 Benrus Sort I reissue, which is an in depth remake (even though with some essential variations), I’m already bought.

Neatly, now not in point of fact, however relating to the full pattern, I don’t want convincing. However ahead of we get there, let’s take a snappy take a look at the brand. Based in 1921 in our native land of NYC by way of Benjamin Lazarus (BEN-RUS), Benrus has a wealthy historical past and catalog complete of significant watches and designs. Despite the fact that they’re most famed, or possibly well known for his or her military-issued watches, their different achievements come with one of the most sexiest “super compressor” divers you’ll ever see, implausible leap hour get dressed watches, being on Steve McQueen’s wrist, and a lot more. However, like many brands, they didn’t live to tell the tale the Battery operated disaster, and after a couple of possession adjustments, the brand all however disappeared.


Neatly, till now. You spot, Benrus, in any case, used to be introduced back to existence by way of individuals who wish to pay some recognize to its historical past. Positive, it’s the stylish factor to do at the present time, however for a few years Benrus used to be one thing unusual that, to be sincere, wasn’t value being attentive to. It used to be simply an old call without a connection to its historical past or reputedly what used to be taking place within the business. With the Sort I, that’s replacing. They were given an archivist, they’ve dusted off the old catalogs, they usually landed on possibly their most famed pattern from an fanatic’s viewpoint.

Created to be the hardest watch in its day, and issued to only probably the most elite devices of the US military, the Sort I used to be functional, sensible, constructed like a rock, and charmingly understated. To get the whole run-down at the originals, take a look at our article Benrus Type I and Type II MIL-W-50717 Military Dive Watches. A “sleeper” of types, the Sort I will most probably beat up your different watches however doesn’t want to as it is aware of it may, if what I imply. Just about 43mm in diameter, with 300m of water resistance, the authentic must had been very enforcing in 1972.


Evaluation: the Benrus Sort I Reissue


Semigloss Stainless Metal


ETA 2681






Domed Glass



Water Resistance



42.5 x 47.7mm



Lug Width









The modern watch assists in keeping this competitive stance and the full pattern is unchanged to the bare eye, measuring in at 42.5 x 47.7 x 14.8mm. The blocky pattern has no bevels or every other ornamental components, but its angular, prolonged proper facet, which protects the screw-down crown, is a particular characteristic. This gives the case with an unmistakable character and makes it recognizable at-a-glance. Benrus upped the lug-width from 19.5 to 20mm for glaring causes.

The authentic

The Reissue

Taking a look down the lugs, the bezel slopes with a shocking quantity of class right into a double-domed glass glass, one of the most upgraded components. If little main points make the entire distinction, Benrus did a super activity at the bezel, with the etched, paint-filled numerals at the bezel having a look proper off a ‘70s model. That said, it too went from acrylic to a more modern aluminum insert, though you’d barely be capable of inform at a look. Whilst at the subject, the 12-hr bezel with markings for the primary 20-minutes is a personal-favorite format, and the Sort I and Sort II are a few of, if now not the primary, to make use of the sort of pattern.

As with the authentic, the bezel is bi-directional and non-ratcheting, so no clicks to wax poetic about. That stated, the bezel supplies numerous resistance and a pleasantly easy really feel, so unintended rotating is not likely, even though now not unimaginable. The toothed edge additionally provides numerous grip.

Asymmetrical case

Flipping the watch over, you’re met with some other set of preserved main points. The reputedly completely sealed case-back includes a easy domed pattern, which most likely provides to convenience at the wrist, and has been laser etched with markings within the taste of the originals. That is the only position that you simply’ll to find the call Benrus any place at the watch. For the restricted version, the date of assembly, in addition to the selection of the watch (of 1000), are integrated. “U.S.” is etched on the backside, which isn’t only correct to the authentic pattern, however is a reminder that this watch is, in reality, assembled within the US.

The ones very conversant in the authentic Sort I’ve most likely spotted a small, however conceptually important distinction between the authentic and the remake: no dimple at the crown. Because of the highest load development of the originals a two-piece stem used to be used to take away the crown, thus permitting the movement to be got rid of/put in into the case. The dimple at the crown used to be there because it indicated when the crown used to be in place for the stem to come back aside. The brand new Sort I, in spite of now not having a look love it, in reality includes a detachable screw-in case back, so this two-piece machine used to be now not wanted.

Laser-etched case back

In talking with Darius Solomon, Benrus’ archivist, I discovered that within the strategy of remaking the watch, they went thru an inside fight over little main points like this. On one hand, they sought after to stick faithful, at the different hand, they sought after to make a watch that used to be sturdy and as much as modern requirements. The 2-piece stem used to be a spot the place they felt the pattern might be progressed, because the authentic allowed for unintended elimination of the crown. With out the machine, it then didn’t appear genuine to have the dimple, as it will not have a goal. Sort I die-hards may bemoan this resolution, together with the glass and bezel, however I agree that it makes it a extra commercially viable product.


The dial of the Sort I is a find out about in simplicity. The diver decreased to its maximum very important components. There are huge markers consistent with hour, with a big triangle at 12, thick rectangles and three, 6, and 9, and small circles in between, all in white. Despite the fact that very similar to many different iconic divers, the balance is slightly other, with extra emphasis at the cardinal markers. An enchanting characteristic is that the lume plots aren’t persistently sized in comparison to the white scuffs published beneath. For instance, the circles characteristic small dots with a noticeable border, the rectangles characteristic slim strains bisecting the print beneath, with a great deal of exposed space, and the triangle is just about totally lumed, save a small line on best. All glow brightly due to BGW9 Tremendous-Luminova.

A stripped down diver

Distinctive markers

Curious lume placements

Outdoor of the massive hour markers are skinny white strains for the minutes, which get a slightly thicker at durations of 5. Past this, the dial is empty. A real sterile-dial, there is not any branding, no superfluous textual content, no date – not anything. And it’s unusually superb as such. Despite the fact that a commonplace trait for mil-spec watches, the loss of branding feels intentional and putting. A daring graphic commentary intended to push the eyes only to the indexes making a void on the center of the watch, it makes as a lot of a commentary because it’s intended to remove.

Gloss white fence post hands make studying the time easy, going to turn that exaggerated shapes are extra shape than function. The lume utility is curious, however refers back to the originals. At the hour and minute hand there are a sequence of rectangles stamped into the hands, two at the hours and 3 at the minutes. Luminescence is then carried out to only one of the most rectangles at the hour, and two at the minutes, leaving an empty spot on each. It’s unusual, however correct.


Powering the brand new Sort I is the ETA 2681. “The what?” you may well be asking. Yep, the 2681, an ETA automatic with hacking, handwinding, 25-jewels, date (sure, there’s a phantom crown place) a frequency of 28,800bph and roughly 44 hours of energy reserve. The explanation you most likely haven’t heard about it’s that it’s generally utilized in smaller watches because it’s 8.75 ligne or 19.4mm in diameter. For comparability, the 2824 is 11.5 ligne or 25.6mm in diameter. Darius Solomon confident me that they put the 2681 thru a battery or assessments to ensure it used to be a solid choice for the Sort I that will carry out nicely. Additionally, in use, you’ll’t inform that the movement is small.

a big watch with a small movement

Regardless, this turns out like an unusual selection. I requested why they used the 2681, and it got here down to 2 issues, the primary used to be that the use of a hacking ETA (vs Sellita or different choices) used to be essential to them because the originals had been ETA. The second one used to be merely availability. Whilst I’m now not of their sneakers, I do to find each slightly questionable, as I believe that the use of a well known and thought of movement that used to be sized for the watch, like an SW200, should not have taken clear of the watch with the exception of to possibly the snobbiest of snobs, who would most likely already be cast off by way of the glass glass, no dimple crown, and so forth. So far as swords to die on, I’m now not positive this one used to be value it, as there may be simply one thing about figuring out your watch has an undersized movement in it this is off-putting.

Bracelets and Wearability

Genuine Sort 1s and 2s had overhauled lug bars, as did maximum, if now not all, military-issued watches of the technology. The modern watch options spring bars, which will have to come as no wonder given the opposite user-friendly adjustments. With that stated, I used to be nonetheless shocked by way of the band the watch got here on. Somewhat than a single-pass band that will have simulated what the originals would have come on, it comes on an excessively thick, two-piece nylon band. mil-strap-esque, but the fabric doesn’t fold back and throughout the steel keepers. It’s of respectable high quality, however now not a band I discovered very conceptually or aesthetically interesting. I imagine the function used to be to permit for the caseback to be simply visual, which turns out like a foolish factor to sacrifice a band for, particularly so far as lovers are involved. Moreover, at $1,700, give me the band that appears proper, a lovely leather-based band, and perhaps this two-piece for some other nylon choice.

The two-piece nylon this is integrated

Anyway, after getting rid of the band and putting in place on a unmarried go, the watch seemed and felt proper. Inexperienced, grey, black, all of them glance solid. However because it’s were given spring bars and 20mm lugs, I additionally attempted it on leather-based, and I’ve to mention, I used to be very shocked by way of the end result. With out the fabric beneath, it wears flatter, which is at all times excellent, however extra importantly, the unabashedly rugged pattern simply appears killer on darkish, semigloss leather-based. I imply, this is a instrument watch in the end.

In spite of missing lots of the tips hired to make a watch glance and wear smaller, I’m at all times amazed by way of how nicely the Sort I wears. Similar to a Speedmaster, the diameter describes the asymmetrical extension, so it’s slightly of a false measurement. The bezel, which measures 39.4mm, is a greater quantity to head by way of. In a similar way, a portion of the peak comes from the domed bezel and glass, which reads thinner than it will if it used to be natural case-side, and the case-back domes. And, as described, the mid-case is in reality fairly skinny, briefly reducing in against the case-back, averting an excessive amount of slab. In different phrases, don’t be intimidated by way of the 14.8mm dimension. On my seven-inch wrist, it no doubt had a commanding presence, however I by no means felt love it used to be outsized or awkward. In reality, I rather appreciated dressed in one thing slightly greater for a replace.

On a unmarried go

Easy bezel motion

rugged watch on rugged leather-based


All stated and finished, I believe the brand new Benrus Sort I is a compelling, stress-free watch and, extra importantly, a sign that the brand is getting at the proper track. I don’t envy any individual looking to carry back an iconic watch that has a cult following, as you’re by no means going to delight everybody. On one hand, you have got purists who need a 1:1 game (even though, possibly a real 1:1 merely wouldn’t be presented to the general public), and at the different you have got an ever-growing and ever-pickier staff of lovers who’re armed with simply sufficient wisdom at the historical past of a watch to be anal, but additionally call for the most productive specifications. On this example, there must be some give both path.

That stated, I do suppose the movement wasn’t the fitting selection, and not more considerably, the band. This leads me to the true difficult tablet to swallow – the associated fee. At $1,700, we’re simply used to extra at this level. You’ll be able to get finely-made and completed Swiss chronometers for much less, or tough-as-nails German instrument watches. And for one thing in a equivalent taste, you have got the Marathon Navigator, which is provided to the US Militia and prices some distance much less, even though is plastic and operated by battery, and the MKII Paradive, will have to you be capable of to find one, which is like a next-gen model of the Sort I.

An undeniably good-looking watch

Positive, American-assembled can account for one thing, however there are brands, like Vaer, doing that for much less as nicely. In the long run, I will’t talk to their prices, however at $1,700 I don’t need the next-best-movement, I would like the only I do know and believe, which at this level can be Sellita, Soprod, or Seiko and Miyota, and a few in point of fact excellent bands. With that stated, if that is the watch you’ve set your eyes on, and the associated fee isn’t a subject (it’s admittedly the fraction of the cost of a antique Sort I at this level), then you will be proud of the revel in of the watch. The Sort I may be very stress-free to wear and take a look at, it’s no doubt well-built, and Benrus did a super activity in recreating the weather that you simply’ll respect when glancing down at your wrist. I’m hoping that they take what they’ve discovered in creating this primary LE, and produce it to a extra out there model someday. Benrus

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