It is no secret that we are big fans of military issued field watches and this Benrus GI Field Watch produced at the very end of the Vietnam era in March of 1975 is no exception. The disposable nature of this particular model, made for general enlisted (GI) soldiers, brings additional weight to the piece. There is something macabre about watches produced in plastic that were not meant to last for all that long or to ever be serviced. It is as if the watches didn’t need to last that long because the powers that be didn’t expect the GI soldier to live that long. It is the perseverance of the soldier that this watch was issued to and the perseverance of this watch to survive well beyond its intended lifespan that makes it so special.
The 34mm drab green tinted plastic case is in very good condition. The watch has certainly seen wear but the crystal shows no major scratches and the case back still retains all of its military markings which are the most important components of the watch. The crown looks to be correct for the watch as well.
The Dial and Hands
The dial and hands are in excellent condition, especially considering the intended lifespan of this watch. The lume has aged to a lovely caramel color and is consistent across the dial and hands. Unlike many other field watches this piece also has luminous material on the 12 which is a cool distinction for this model.
This watch features a non hacking, manually wound mechanical movement. The watch is running and the service history is unknown.
As an American watch brand started around the turn of the 20th century, Benrus’s story mirrors that of Bulova, which can be extremely confusing. Both started by immigrants to the US that saw a need in their home marketplace for Swiss-made watches and, later in the 1930s, oddly marketed around Charles Lindbergh using their products. For Berus, three Romanian brothers founded the company and named it Benrus for one of the brothers, Benjamin Lazrus—maybe because Benrus worked better than Oscrus or Ralrus for Oscar and Ralph the other brothers. That was in 1921. So the story goes, Ben, Oscar, and Ralph saw a shift in American taste towards wristwatches and jumped at the opportunity to provide this growing market with a Swiss-made product at an easy to swallow price. A movement manufacturing facility was opened in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, known as “watch valley,” then case production and assembly took place on US soil.
A headquarters was eventually established on Manhattan’s 44th street in the Hippodrome Building and off Benrus went. Prior to World War II, most production was focused on rectangular cased art deco styled wristwatches that came to be favorites of their official spokespeople such as the aforementioned Lindbergh and George Herman “Babe” Ruth. Collectors today focus on the company’s offerings following the Second World War including but not limited to the great Sky Chief chronograph— a watch which remains criminally underappreciated more broadly. Other post-war Benrus watches that get attention are their wrist alarms, Vietnam era US Military issued MIL-W-3818 field watches, and innovative Dial-O-Rama jump hours.
|Location||New York City|
|Model||GI Field Watch|
|Band Material||Nylon Strap|