When it comes to military-issued watches from America’s history, no conversation could be complete without mentioning Benrus. Originally founded by the Lazrus brothers in 1921, Benrus famously supplied watches to the United States military from the early 1960s through the 1980s. Following the brand’s relaunch in 2020, Benrus has been reviving some of its most famous past designs, including the Type I dive watch that was produced from 1972 until 1980 and issued to members of the U.S. armed forces. The Benrus Type I was based on Mil-Spec MIL-W-50717, which was written by the United States military and outlined the design details for a purpose-built dive watch. However, Mil-Spec MIL-W-50717 also contained an additional specification for a version of the watch that was more suited to field operations and quick conversions between 12-hour and 24-hour time — and this model was known as the Benrus Type II. Following the 2021 limited-edition revival of the Type I, Benrus is now doing the same with the Type II and is bringing back the field-oriented version of its historic military-issued watch as a 500-piece limited edition.
Just like the original from the 1970s, the new Benrus Type II has the same asymmetric case as its Type I sibling, which extends on the right-hand side to offer protection for its screw-down winding crown. Measuring 42.5mm in diameter and crafted from 316L stainless steel with a sandblasted finish, the case of the Type II is virtually identical to the one that is found on the Type I reissue from last year, and it benefits from the same subtle modern enhancements including its double-domed sapphire crystal. Additionally, just like the limited edition of the Type I revival, the top of the case of the new Benrus Type II is fitted with a bidirectional rotating bezel that has a 12-hour insert with minute markings for the first 20 minutes. The solid stainless steel caseback helps provide the Benrus Type II Limited Edition with 300 meters of water resistance, and it is engraved with its original mil-spec markings, along with each watch’s individual number out of 500 pieces.
Like the original military-issued Benrus watches from the 1970s, the key difference between the Type I and the Type II is rooted in their dial design, as the two watches share identical external cases. The Type I was intended to be a dive watch and was therefore fitted with a dial that featured geometric shapes for its hour markers. Meanwhile, the dial fitted to the Benrus Type II followed more of a traditional field watch design, with large Arabic numeral hour markers and a secondary scale for referencing 24-hour time positioned along its interior. The dial of the new Benrus Type II Limited Edition faithfully follows the design of the original model, and it includes a time-only display that maintains the sterile design of the military-issued version and lacks any type of company name or branding whatsoever, with just its hands and markings finished in BWG9 Super-LumiNova.
Powering the new Benrus Type II Limited Edition is the Swiss-Made Soprod P024 automatic movement, which is essentially the Soprod equivalent of the ETA 2824-2 or Sellita SW200. This core movement design will be familiar to most people and serves as the go-to option for most affordable three-handed automatic watches that rely on Swiss Made calibers. Consequently, the Soprod P024 powering the Benrus Type II runs at a standard frequency of 28,800vph, while also offering users a familiar 38-hour power reserve. A proven design that is reliable and easily serviced, the Soprod P024 is an appropriate choice for a tool watch like the Benrus Type II, given that the model itself is not about intricate finishing or the horological bragging rights of an in-house movement. Completing the watch is a two-piece black nylon “seatbelt” strap that is fitted with NATO-style hardware, and given that the Type II has standard 20mm lugs, you won’t have any issues swapping out the included strap for virtually any third-party option of your choice.
At the end of the day, the new Benrus Type II Limited Edition is largely the exact same watch as the Type I, except for the fact that it features a field watch style dial. However, that is exactly what the original 1970s model was intended to be because that’s what was outlined by the specific perimeters of Mil-Spec MIL-W-50717. The whole point of the Benrus Type II was to offer other military personnel working in various demanding environments the same practical and robust watch design that was available to its divers, and the modern recreation certainly delivers upon that same original promise. Official retail pricing of the Benrus Type II Limited Edition will be $1,495 USD and production of the model will be limited to 500 pieces worldwide. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.