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.
Benrus applied for a patent bearing the name Dial-O-Rama in 1956, introducing a jump hour style, round-cased product line of wristwatches the following year in 1957. This style of watch was growing in popularity through the 1930s especially but it is interesting to see Benrus bring a new offering to the market a few decades later in the 1950s. The many variants of the Dial-O-Rama represent the spirit of The Space Age bubbling up in pop culture at the time, looking at what life will be like in the distant future with the flying cars of The Jetsons and watches with digitized numbers instead of hands.
The Dial-O-Rama for auction here is a very wearable iteration of that spirit with super 1950s styling dumbed down ever so slightly to create a variant that is every bit 2020s as it is from its own time.
This Benrus’s chromed case is in average to good condition showing signs of wear but not polishing. The lugs have sharp edges but sleeve rubbing and general wear has worn the finish in areas. The crystal is in good condition with no significant scratches noted. For the stainless-steel caseback, there are no deep scratches or marks from removing. The signed crown is in good condition that matches the caseback very well.
The Dial and Hands
The dial is in overall good to great condition. A few imperfections are noticeable right in the center circle but the vast space on the bottom half of the dial presents really nicely, aging to a slight cream color.
There are no hands but the hour and minute disks are in good condition. Normally I would say the differing finishes of these disks is a red flag but looking at other examples, Benrus must have used a different finish on the two to differentiate one from the other further. A general note when looking at a triple date or another watch with multiple disks behind the dial is that they should match in finish and printing.
This example’s Benrus caliber FG 25 is in good running order. Service history is unknown.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Manual, Benrus cal. FG 25|
|Dial||Direct read white metallic finish|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|
|Clasp Type||Stainless Steel Buckle|