What does Benrus have in common with Jaeger-LeCoultre, Longines, Blancpain, Universal Geneve, Bulova, and Zenith? When it came to divers, they all sold the same damned watch.
Super Compressor diving watches are a category unto themselves, and many of the best Swiss brands sold their own variants of the distinctive dual crown watches that have been one of the most popular types of collectable dive watches for years.
The Super Compressor name refers to the innovative case design, which utilizes a "compressor" system designed to become more watertight the deeper that the watch travels under water. As atmospheric pressure increases along with depth, the case back is compressed inwards, pushing on the gaskets and creating a tighter seal to protect the internals.
The compressor case didn't turn out to be any better at preventing water intrusion than other 1960s innovations (such as screw-down crowns), but due to their good looks, compressor cases proved to be popular amongst consumers. Eager to get into the burgeoning dive watch market, many of the best Swiss brands turned to EPSA (Ervin Piquerez, S.A.), the leading manufacturer of compressor cases at the time, for cases to build their divers around.
This particular example is branded by the US based company Benrus, and features a classic 36mm ESPA case with dual crowns and an internal rotating dive bezel. The idea behind the design is that they’re less prone to accidental rotation that an external bezel. It is perhaps this feature that has become the most endearing feature of Super Compressors to collectors today. Practically, they worked out great for warm water divers, but anyone with gloved hands would have struggled.
This particular example is in excellent condition throughout, with crisp original lume and "Cathedral" hands, and comes with a period-correct JB Champion multilink "Brick" bracelet. It is sporty yet comfortably sized, and conveniently houses an automatic Swiss movement. Nice examples of Super Compressors are drying up, so now’s the time to dive in!
For more information on the history of compressor-cased diving watches, click over to Scubawatch.org, HERE.
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