Benrus has a long and storied history in the pantheon of military tool watches. The original Benrus Type I graced the wrists of soldiers throughout the Vietnam War, a distinction that makes the company’s new Type I-C particularly interesting.

The watch itself is a reissue of a reissue. It’s based on Bernus’ original Type I reissue and the C in the name indicates the fact that these bad boys come in multiple colors, including white, blue, black, and red. The $1,495 watch runs a Soprod P024 movement 38-hour power reserve and features a non-clicking dive/timezone bezel. It has a bead blasted 316L stainless steel 42.5mm case case and a large screw down crown.

The Type I-C minimalistic yet highly functional design. Known for its stark and sterile dial, the watch features a clean face devoid of any company logo or numerals, which enhances its legibility. This simplicity is complemented by large indices and luminous hands, making it easily readable under any conditions, a crucial feature for a tool intended for military use. The whole package is a little small on the wrist but it works harmoniously thanks to the white on white (or color on color) mix of the face and the strap.

As we noted, this isn’t a watch that screams its branding. As you can see, the face is completely empty except for the luminous pips and bold hands. The caseback engraving is almost ghostly, just a bit of laser etching into the bead blasted steel. The crown is well protected by the extremely bold and encompassing lugs.

The whole package is really lovely and nicely designed, which is definitely par for the course for Benrus.

My only problem? The price. At $1,495 you’re paying quite a bit for even a historic diver with an impeccable pedigree. I could see this priced at a less meaty $800 or so and that would be perfect but at $1,495 for a piece without complications I’m a little skeptical. That said, if you like the design, the style, and the colors, the I-C might be a nice addition to your summer ensemble.

The History the Benrus Type I

The Benrus Type I watch holds a notable place in the history of military timepieces, distinguished by its robust design and pioneering specifications. It was developed in response to the demanding needs of the U.S. military during an era of significant technological and strategic evolution. The inception of the Type I traces back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, a period marked by the Vietnam War and a growing reliance on specialized military units. The Department of Defense recognized the necessity for equipment that could endure the harsh conditions faced by operatives in covert and hazardous environments.

To meet these stringent requirements, Benrus, a company that had already secured the first Vietnam U.S. military watch contract, set out to create a watch that was both functional and extremely durable. The result was the Type I, introduced under military specification MIL-W-50717. This specification outlined the requirements for a watch that could withstand significant depths, extreme temperatures, and physical shocks—features essential for operations ranging from deep-sea dives to high-altitude missions. The watch featured an automatic movement, a depth rating of 1,000 feet below sea level, and a unique capability to remain functional 30,000 feet above sea level.

One of the most distinctive aspects of the Benrus Type I is its design. The watch features a simple, sterile dial without any company logo or numerals, which is not only a stylistic choice but also a functional one, aimed at maximizing legibility under any conditions. This design includes large, luminous hands and indices, making it instantly recognizable and easily readable, which is vital for soldiers who often operate in low-light scenarios.

The Benrus Type I quickly became a favored choice among U.S. military personnel, particularly those in elite units such as the Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, and Green Berets. Its adoption was not merely due to its compliance with military specifications but also because of its reliability in the field. The watch’s ruggedness and purpose-built design made it an ideal companion for the rigorous and unpredictable nature of military operations.

Today, the Benrus Type I is celebrated not only as a military standard but also as a collector’s item among watch enthusiasts and historians. While it has transitioned from a functional military tool to a vintage collectible, its legacy endures. Its impact on the design and functionality of military watches continues to be recognized, making it one of the most iconic military dive watches ever produced, cherished for both its historical significance and its pioneering design.

ByJohn Biggs

John lives in Brooklyn and has loved watches since he got his first Swatch Irony automatic in 1998. He is the editor of WristWatchReview.

Leave a Reply