I’m going to kick off this evaluate with an admission that I’ve lengthy been a fan of the Benrus Sort I and II MIL-W-50717 designs. A definitive navy software dive watch by one of many late, nice, although just lately re-resurrected American watch manufacturers, I’ve encountered quite a few classic fashions and different comparable watches which have descended from the identical tried and true mil-spec through the years, and have at all times admired them. It’s the closest there’s to an iconic American dive watch, and in its blunt, overbuilt, no-fuss kind-of-way, type of the proper look ahead to that honor. So, in the case of the design of the 2020 Benrus Sort I reissue, which is an in depth remake (although with some vital variations), I’m already bought.
Nicely, probably not, however in the case of the general design, I don’t want convincing. However earlier than we get there, let’s take a fast take a look at the model. Based in 1921 in our hometown of NYC by Benjamin Lazarus (BEN-RUS), Benrus has a wealthy historical past and catalog filled with nice watches and designs. Although they’re most well-known, or maybe well-known for his or her military-issued watches, their different achievements embody one of many sexiest “tremendous compressor” divers you’ll ever see, unbelievable soar hour gown watches, being on Steve McQueen’s wrist, and far more. However, like many manufacturers, they didn’t survive the Quartz disaster, and after a couple of possession modifications, the model all however disappeared.
Nicely, till now. You see, Benrus, lastly, was introduced again to life by individuals who need to pay some respect to its historical past. Certain, it’s the stylish factor to do lately, however for a few years Benrus was one thing odd that, to be sincere, wasn’t price listening to. It was simply an outdated identify with no connection to its historical past or seemingly what was taking place within the trade. With the Sort I, that’s altering. They obtained an archivist, they’ve dusted off the outdated catalogs, and so they landed on maybe their most well-known design from an fanatic’s perspective.
Created to be the hardest watch in its day, and issued to solely probably the most elite models of the US armed forces, the Sort I used to be purposeful, sensible, constructed like a rock, and charmingly understated. To get the complete run-down on the originals, take a look at our article Benrus Type I and Type II MIL-W-50717 Military Dive Watches. A “sleeper” of kinds, the Sort I can in all probability beat up your different watches however doesn’t must as a result of it is aware of it may possibly, if you already know what I imply. Practically 43mm in diameter, with 300m of water resistance, the unique will need to have been very imposing in 1972.
Evaluation: the Benrus Sort I Reissue
Matte Stainless Metal
42.5 x 47.7mm
The fashionable watch retains this aggressive stance and the general design is unchanged to the bare eye, measuring in at 42.5 x 47.7 x 14.8mm. The blocky design has no bevels or another ornamental parts, but its angular, prolonged proper facet, which protects the screw-down crown, is a particular function. This offers the case with an unmistakable character and makes it recognizable at-a-glance. Benrus upped the lug-width from 19.5 to 20mm for apparent causes.
Wanting down the lugs, the bezel slopes with a stunning quantity of class right into a double-domed sapphire crystal, one of many upgraded parts. If little particulars make all of the distinction, Benrus did an important job on the bezel, with the etched, paint-filled numerals on the bezel trying proper off a ‘70s mannequin. That stated, it too went from acrylic to a extra trendy aluminum insert, although you’d hardly have the ability to inform at a look. Whereas on the subject, the 12-hr bezel with markings for the primary 20-minutes is a personal-favorite structure, and the Sort I and Sort II are a few of, if not the primary, to make use of such a design.
As with the unique, the bezel is bi-directional and non-ratcheting, so no clicks to wax poetic about. That stated, the bezel offers loads of resistance and a pleasantly easy really feel, so unintended turning is unlikely, although not not possible. The toothed edge additionally provides loads of grip.
Flipping the watch over, you’re met with one other set of preserved particulars. The seemingly completely sealed case-back includes a easy domed design, which possible provides to consolation on the wrist, and has been laser etched with markings within the model of the originals. That is the one place that you simply’ll discover the identify Benrus wherever on the watch. For the restricted version, the date of meeting, in addition to the variety of the watch (of 1000), are included. “U.S.” is etched on the backside, which isn’t solely correct to the unique design, however is a reminder that this watch is, in truth, assembled within the US.
These very accustomed to the unique Sort I’ve possible observed a small, however conceptually vital distinction between the unique and the remake: no dimple on the crown. Because of the high load development of the originals a two-piece stem was used to take away the crown, thus permitting the motion to be eliminated/put in into the case. The dimple on the crown was there because it indicated when the crown was in place for the stem to come back aside. The brand new Sort I, regardless of not trying prefer it, really includes a detachable screw-in case again, so this two-piece system was not wanted.
In talking with Darius Solomon, Benrus’ archivist, I discovered that within the means of remaking the watch, they went via an inside battle over little particulars like this. On one hand, they needed to remain trustworthy, however, they needed to make a watch that was sturdy and as much as trendy requirements. The 2-piece stem was a spot the place they felt the design may very well be improved, as the unique allowed for unintended elimination of the crown. With out the system, it then didn’t appear genuine to have the dimple, as it might now not have a goal. Sort I die-hards may bemoan this determination, together with the crystal and bezel, however I agree that it makes it a extra commercially viable product.
The dial of the Sort I is a research in simplicity. The diver lowered to its most important parts. There are massive markers per hour, with a big triangle at 12, thick rectangles and three, 6, and 9, and small circles in between, all in white. Although much like many different iconic divers, the stability is a bit totally different, with extra emphasis on the cardinal markers. An attention-grabbing function is that the lume plots aren’t persistently sized in comparison with the white marks printed beneath. For instance, the circles function small dots with a noticeable border, the rectangles function slim traces bisecting the print beneath, with a considerable quantity of uncovered space, and the triangle is almost absolutely lumed, save a small line on high. All glow brightly due to BGW9 Tremendous-Luminova.
Exterior of the massive hour markers are skinny white traces for the minutes, which get a contact thicker at intervals of 5. Past this, the dial is empty. A real sterile-dial, there isn’t any branding, no superfluous textual content, no date – nothing. And it’s surprisingly great as such. Although a standard trait for mil-spec watches, the dearth of branding feels intentional and hanging. A daring graphic assertion meant to push the eyes solely to the indexes making a void on the center of the watch, it makes as a lot of an announcement because it’s meant to remove.
Gloss white fence submit palms make studying the time easy, going to point out that exaggerated shapes are extra type than operate. The lume software is curious, however refers back to the originals. On the hour and minute hand there are a collection of rectangles stamped into the palms, two on the hours and three on the minutes. Lume is then utilized to solely one of many rectangles on the hour, and two on the minutes, leaving an empty spot on each. It’s odd, however correct.
Powering the brand new Sort I is the ETA 2681. “The what?” you is perhaps asking. Yep, the 2681, an ETA automated 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 possible haven’t heard about it’s that it’s usually 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 assured me that they put the 2681 via a battery or assessments to ensure it was a strong choice for the Sort I that might carry out properly. Additionally, in use, you’ll be able to’t inform that the motion is small.
Regardless, this looks as if an odd selection. I requested why they used the 2681, and it got here down to 2 issues, the primary was that utilizing a hacking ETA (vs Sellita or different choices) was vital to them because the originals have been ETA. The second was merely availability. Whereas I’m not of their sneakers, I do discover each a bit questionable, as I really feel that utilizing a widely known and regarded motion that was sized for the watch, like an SW200, wouldn’t have taken away from the watch besides to maybe the snobbiest of snobs, who would possible already be delay by the sapphire crystal, no dimple crown, and so forth. So far as swords to die on, I’m undecided this one was price it, as there’s simply one thing about figuring out your watch has an undersized motion in it that’s off-putting.
Straps and Wearability
Unique Sort 1s and 2s had fastened lug bars, as did most, if not all, military-issued watches of the period. The fashionable watch options spring bars, which ought to come as no shock given the opposite user-friendly modifications. With that stated, I used to be nonetheless shocked by the strap the watch got here on. Relatively than a single-pass strap that might have simulated what the originals would have come on, it comes on a really thick, two-piece nylon strap. mil-strap-esque, but the fabric doesn’t fold again and thru the metallic keepers. It’s of first rate high quality, however not a strap I discovered very conceptually or aesthetically interesting. I consider the objective was to permit for the caseback to be simply seen, which looks as if a foolish factor to sacrifice a strap for, particularly so far as fanatics are involved. Moreover, at $1,700, give me the strap that appears proper, a stunning leather-based strap, and possibly this two-piece for one more nylon choice.
Anyway, after eradicating the strap and placing in on a single move, the watch appeared and felt proper. Inexperienced, grey, black, all of them look strong. However because it’s obtained spring bars and 20mm lugs, I additionally tried it on leather-based, and I’ve to say, I used to be very shocked by the end result. With out the fabric beneath, it wears flatter, which is at all times good, however extra importantly, the unabashedly rugged design simply seems killer on darkish, matte leather-based. I imply, it’s a software watch in any case.
Regardless of missing most of the methods employed to make a watch look and put on smaller, I’m at all times amazed by how properly the Sort I wears. Very like a Speedmaster, the diameter describes the asymmetrical extension, so it’s a little bit of a false dimension. The bezel, which measures 39.4mm, is a greater quantity to go by. Equally, a portion of the peak comes from the domed bezel and crystal, which reads thinner than it might if it was pure case-side, and the case-back domes. And, as is, the mid-case is definitely comparatively skinny, shortly reducing in in the direction of the case-back, avoiding an excessive amount of slab. In different phrases, don’t be intimidated by the 14.8mm measurement. On my seven-inch wrist, it actually had a commanding presence, however I by no means felt prefer it was outsized or awkward. Really, I fairly preferred sporting one thing a bit bigger for a change.
All stated and executed, I believe the brand new Benrus Sort I is a compelling, pleasant watch and, extra importantly, an indication that the model is getting heading in the right direction. I don’t envy anybody making an attempt to carry again an iconic watch that has a cult following, as you’re by no means going to please everybody. On one hand, you will have purists who desire a 1:1 recreation (although, maybe a real 1:1 merely wouldn’t be accessible to the general public), and on the opposite you will have an ever-growing and ever-pickier group of fanatics who’re armed with simply sufficient data on the historical past of a watch to be anal, but additionally demand one of the best specs. On this occasion, there must be some give both path.
That stated, I do suppose the motion wasn’t the fitting selection, and fewer considerably, the strap. This leads me to the actual robust capsule to swallow – the value. At $1,700, we’re simply used to extra at this level. You will get finely-made and completed Swiss chronometers for much less, or tough-as-nails German software watches. And for one thing in an identical model, you will have the Marathon Navigator, which is provided to the US Armed forces and prices far much less, although is plastic and quartz, and the MKII Paradive, do you have to have the ability to discover one, which is type of a next-gen model of the Sort I.
Certain, American-assembled can account for one thing, however there are manufacturers, like Vaer, doing that for much less as properly. In the end, I can’t converse to their prices, however at $1,700 I don’t need the next-best-movement, I would like the one I do know and belief, which at this level can be Sellita, Soprod, or Seiko and Miyota, and a few actually good straps. With that stated, if that is the watch you’ve set your eyes on, and the value is just not a difficulty (it’s admittedly the fraction of the value of a classic Sort I at this level), then you definitely’ll be proud of the expertise of the watch. The Sort I could be very pleasant to put on and take a look at, it’s actually well-built, and Benrus did an important job in recreating the weather that you simply’ll admire when glancing down at your wrist. I hope that they take what they’ve discovered in creating this primary LE, and convey it to a extra accessible model sooner or later. Benrus