Vintage military watches are one of the most interesting sub-sets of timepiece collecting. For many, they encapsulate the essence of "tool watch" in their most elemental form - if for no other reason than they were built to be issued to sailors, soldiers and airmen and brought into some of the harshest environments possible. Their stark, no-frills designs were universally practical, tough-as-a-brick-shithouse rugged, and a large number of them were actually used for what they were designed for, unlike the vast majority of "desk divers" we more commonly see today.
Benrus was one of the preferred suppliers of the US Government starting in the early 1960s, when they started producing pieces in large quantities for pilots and infantrymen in the Vietnam war. In the 1970s, the government created special sub-classes for their most demanding users - including elite military divers - and issued the MIL-W-50717 specification.
Once again, Benrus worked their magic, producing the Type I and Type II, which feature different dial designs but share the same 43mm asymmetrical corrosion-resistant steel case, ETA-based automatic movement and a depth rating of 1200 feet.
Within the Type II specification, fewer than 1,000 were designated as 'Class B,' hallmarked by non-luminous dials and painted, non-luminous hands, done to exclude even the small amounts of radioactivity generated by Radium and Tritium material that can interfere with sensitive instruments and sensors (like inside a nuclear submarine).
This particular example dates to September 1980, the very end of this model’s life and is one of the last true mechanical American military watches to be issued and worn by our fighting elite. While vintage military watches abound, there are few that are as interesting and impressive as the Benrus Type II.
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