For sale we have a beautiful 1950s dress watch from American brand Benrus. A watch very clearly styled in the mid-century era, it ozees mid-century modern class with a clean yellow gold case, with excellent horn lug design and silver satin dial with applied arrow and Arabic hour markers. Although the case is petite at 29mm x 29.5mm, the watch has considerable presence on the wrist with its horn lug design which increases the case length to 37.5mm tip to tip. Inside is an ETA based Benrus calibre 1281 which is of excellent quality and has been serviced.
The dial is original with a silver satin base tone. It is of a dished design with a flat face to the centre, which falls away. It does shows its age as there is wear to the lacquered finish around the exterior of the dial. It has gold tone applied hour markers with Arabic 9, 12, 3, 6. It has the Benrus logo signed with tri-coloured block, a nod to the founder’s Romanian heritage. It has a neat inset sub second dial with crosshair.
The Lance Alpha style hands are neat in a gold tone and balance the case tone, with the hour markers.
The case is formed of 14k yellow gold and is beautifully designed with prominent horn lugs. To the right is a neat coin edge crown and to the rear is the neat 14k yellow gold snap on case back.
The watch is presented on black genuine leather strap in good condition.
Inside is a Benrus DN 411 (ETA 1281) with 21 jewels. It is a high-quality manual wind movement with a frequency of 18,000 BPH and a power reserve of 55 hours. The movement was serviced by ourselves a year ago. It’s keeping time to +33 seconds a day, with an amplitude of 240 degrees.
The case strictly measured is small, but the lugs add significant presence and length to the case. This was originally a gents watch, but modern tastes favour larger watches. If you are a gent that is used to smaller watches this will be suitable, or it will be equally at home on a ladies wrist.
Benrus watch company history:
Benrus was founded in New York by Benjamin Lazrus and his two brothers. It took its name from the first syllable of his name and the last syllable of the family name. With combined savings of $5,000 they began to import Swiss watch movements, casing them in New York. They set up HQ at the iconic Hippodrome building in the jewellery district in the heart of the city.
Benrus were a brand who knew how to market watches, making use of promotion with big names, such as Charles Lindbergh. They also had aviation connections right from the early days of commercial air travel, with the Airman watch which was released in 1929. This was dubbed the official watch of National Air Transport, which later became United Airlines. They followed this up with the creation of watches such as the Sky Chief which was created solely for pilot useage. It proved so popular with airlines, the brand used the slogan “Official Watch of Famous airlines”.
They also created the Sportman watch line, which was worn and promoted by one of the greatest baseball players, Babe Ruth.
Benrus provided military issue watches for the U.S. for Vietnam, whilst also designing deep diving and super compressor watches.
The Democratic National Convention also gifted President John F Kennedy a custom made Benrus watch, whilst in 1968 Steve McQueen wore his own Benrus in the iconic movie ‘Bullitt’.
A highly esteemed company, with a rich history, but one of the many brands who fell to the sword of the Quartz crisis. They exist today under new ownership offering Reissues of their iconic watches.
Full condition report below. Please see the images as these compliment and aid the description provided below.
The dial is original with a silver satin base tone. There is wear to the lacquered finish around the exterior of the dial around 12 O’clock and 3 O’clock to 6 o’clock. It has gold tone applied hour markers with Arabic 9, 12, 3, 6. It has the Benrus logo signed, with inset sub second dial with crosshair.
The hands are original of Lance Alpha style, in a gold tone. They are in good condition with no bending or corrosion. The sub-second hand is also original.
The acrylic crystal is a replacement which is in very good condition with no marking.
The gold plated crown is a well matched replacement in good condition.
The case is formed of 14k yellow gold and is in very good condition with light surface scratching. It has a polished finish with a good shine.
The case back holds the movement and is formed of 14ct gold. It is in good condition with a polished finish and light surface scratching associated with ageing. It engraved signing is clear.
The movement is a Benrus DN 411 (ETA 1281) with 21 jewels. It is a high quality manual wind movement with a frequency of 18,000 BPH and a power reserve of 55 hours.
The movement was serviced by ourselves a year ago. It’s keeping time to +33 seconds a day, with an amplitude of 240 degrees and a beat error of 3.3m/s.
Case width: 29mm
Case width with crown: 30.5mm
Case length: 29.5mm
Case length lug to lug: 37.5mm
Case Depth: 8.5mm
Lug width: 18mm
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