Old 11-12-2012, 07:59   #1
ender18d
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Question Benrus Dive Watches

I'm a bit of a watch guy, and I've been doing my homework on the Benrus dive watches that were issued to the SEALs and *allegedly* some Special Forces teams back in the 70's and 80's.

They look like this:
http://scubawatch.org/TYPE2.html

Anyway, there are multiple different versions of this watch (Type I, Type II, "sterile"). I am curious as to whether any of you folks from that era were actually issued one of these. If so, what version do you have? I'm a great lover of history, and it would be neat to wear a watch historically associated with our regiment... but only if its truly an SF watch as well and not just some SEAL thing.

Point being, I'd want to be sure it was really an SF watch and that I bought the correct version. I have found one site that said:

"There exists a sterile version of Type I Class A that has no specification markings whatsoever on the caseback other than a serial number identifying the watch. These were mostly issued to Green Berets, Special Forces, and CIA members who were engaged in behind-the-line operations and other covert missions. The watches and equipments they used had to have no trace of evidence indicating the country they were serving."

Last edited by ender18d; 11-12-2012 at 08:06.
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:20   #2
longrange1947
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The only watches issued to me were first cheap pot metal and then plastic cases in the color green, well the cheap pot metal was a kinda green/patina color. They did tell time and worked quite well though. At least the ones I had.

Should have mentioned that this was from 1968 to 1990. Most of the dive guys wore Rolex or Seiko dive watches. Being cheap, I wore the Seiko and later a Citizen Dive Watch.
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Last edited by longrange1947; 11-12-2012 at 11:43. Reason: Edited to add dates
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Old 11-12-2012, 11:04   #3
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We had Tudors in '78-82. Never took them out of the team room, nobody could afford the inevitable statement of charges. Of course that was the same for the Timexes (the original disposable watch). The guys who got the Roof Shingle missions usually bought Rolexes, the rest of us had Seikos and eventually G-Shocks. No "sterile" anything in general issue during that period.
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Old 11-12-2012, 14:26   #4
ender18d
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peregrino View Post
No "sterile" anything in general issue during that period.
Yeah, I've also seen it put forward that the "sterile" thing just meant the watches were prototypes, rather than the sexy secret-squirrel explanation. (http://scubawatch.org/type1.html) That said, those are the only models I've seen explicitly linked to "Green Berets" as opposed to the chronically mis-applied "Special Forces" designation.

I was just researching dive watches since I might have a chance to go to scuba school (Navy version, not CDQC**) this summer and happened across that Benrus story. Obviously, an expensive vintage mechanical piece isn't the most practical operational watch, but the only "operating" I'm likely to do at this point is with a scalpel anyway. Plus, I already have my practical Suunto.

**(Dive school will help me along my way towards DMO, and hopefully a return to Group eventually. Unfortunately, CDQC doesn't fit the block of time available even if I could score a slot.)

Last edited by ender18d; 11-12-2012 at 14:54.
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Old 11-12-2012, 15:08   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ender18d View Post

**(Dive school will help me along my way towards DMO, and hopefully a return to Group eventually. Unfortunately, CDQC doesn't fit the block of time available even if I could score a slot.)
Your first clue of something "goofy" was in the description:
Quote:
These were mostly issued to Green Berets, Special Forces, and CIA members
Prior to the era of SOF...GB's and SF were rarely confused as being anything other than synonymous. Marketing gimmick-

WRT CDQC and DMO:
They really have little to do with one another. Get to GP as a physician and you get a shot at DMO (Classes are Feb and Aug).

Good luck in your endeavors
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Old 11-12-2012, 15:15   #6
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I had a couple of the plastic ones.

They worked well and were moderately water proof to couple feet. As I never held the squirrel under water to long, they were GTG..

They did not pass the back-handed wall-knocker test, but neither did my knuckles..
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Old 11-12-2012, 15:20   #7
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JJ, I never did break one of mine. Had one until just a few years ago when I got rid of a bunch of old stuff to a collector of old s**t.

Forgot to mention, old man bought me a Bulova Dive watch many years ago, broke that one.
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Old 11-12-2012, 21:33   #8
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The main thing I remember about the plastic issued ones was not to get bug juice on them or they would melt into a blob, most rickey tick.

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Old 11-12-2012, 22:26   #9
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The plastic "crystal" would melt on the metal one as well.
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Old 02-26-2013, 17:12   #10
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I was issued a Chronosport UDT in the late '80's. Still have it. I have seen the Benrus watches, but don't recall the story. I saw lots of SEALs with the Tudors. And I saw quite a few people in SF, Force Recon and Seals wearing Rolexes. I bought a Rolex Sea Dweller at the advice of a fellow Recon Marine in 1978. I paid $564 for it and because its a "Double Red Sea Dweller" it's worth north of $20,000 today. I don't wear it anymore, but wore it daily for 20 years, jumping, diving, climbing, in SFQC., etc.
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Old 07-11-2020, 11:05   #11
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Benrus Authentic Reissue Type 1

My pseudo step daughter is the PR lead for the Benrus Authentic Reissue Type 1. The launch is scheduled for early fall 2020. They are in search of anyone who has an original issue and would be interested in speaking with you, personal reflections, etc.,
if you have one and are interested, please DM/email me. Thx, Penn

Scroll through the pictures, details of Type 1 on back of case. Sterile, no details.

https://shop.analogshift.com/products/benrus-type-1
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Old 07-11-2020, 23:11   #12
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Don't remember any Benrus watches. Dive teams in 1/5th at Bragg/Campbell and 1/10 Bad Tolz used the Tudors. As the team S4, I signed for them. When working with ST2 in Machrihanish, Scotland, don't remember any there either but they could have. This was mid to late 80s.

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Old 07-12-2020, 07:25   #13
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Dive Watches:

I have a Zodiac Sea Wolf/ Automatic SS engraved on back of case, water tested 20 Atm. Especially... Radium Dial has a cyclops eye for the date, and a bezel with markings, and a SS bracelet still runs & keeps good time, has 1 tour in Vietnam 1964. Watch was a gift from my wife in 1963. I think she paid @ $100. When I returned to Okinawa from Vietnam in 1965 I bought a Rolex GMT in the PX for $143.00 still have it & wear it every day.
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Old 07-23-2020, 07:12   #14
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Benrus 1 & 2

Dear Veteran,
I am reaching out on behalf of BENRUS Watch Company, a historic American watch brand that has recently been re-launched.
For the past year, we have been working on the development of a very historical and iconic military timepiece that holds much merit still to this day – the BENRUS Type I.
I am sure you may be familiar with the story behind this particular watch, which is one of the most sought-after historic military timepieces today.
As we prepare to reissue this watch in limited quantity, we are searching for those who have been issued an original Type I and may want to tell their story of wearing it.
We are hoping to feature select stories from the past about Type I on our digital platforms, in order to help educate and retell our past.
Should you wish to learn more about BENRUS’ military history or understand better the specific deliverables we are looking for, please view the document below.
Thank you in advance, The BENRUS Team

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
With the experience gained through the beginning of the Vietnam War and the increasing use of covert and specialized military teams such as the UDT, the department of defense determined that our troops needed a more robust field and dive watch that would be purpose built to meet the highest standards of the military and its operatives. As a result, the military wrote Mil Spec MIL-W-50717, that specified the design details for the Type I diving / field watch. For the first time, the military really wrote a specification heavy requirement with details previously never requested. This was to be a larger, shock proof, highly legible, waterproof and self- winding watch that was truly durable enough for the military divisions to whom they would be issued. The new specifications included a depth rating of 1,200 feet, which was unheard of prior to the Type I, and an automatic movement that could resist physical and temperature shock. This had to be a truly rugged watch. Interestingly, the specification of this watch essentially became the standard for what a tool watch should be: purpose built, rugged and simple.
During the Vietnam War, the practice of issuing all soldiers a watch was discontinued, meaning soldiers needed to procure their own watches. Although the military did continue to procure watches, they were limited in their
distribution. Watches were issued only to personnel whose mission required purpose built, rugged timepieces. Approximately 16,000 Type I and II and Class A and B versions were produced. They were issued to the Elite Forces Army Rangers, Green Berets, UDT Divers and even CIA agents throughout the Vietnam War, making the Types I and II some of the most famous and coveted U.S. military dive watches ever.
Before the Type I, BENRUS had been producing the DTU-2A Field Watch for the military since 1964, so when the concept of the Type I arose, BENRUS was in prime position to bid for the Type I contract. One can find countless photos of our
brave soldiers wearing the original simple field watches which were sought after in both their steel and plastic versions. The plastic DTU2 is believed to be the first military watch constructed in plastic.
BENRUS was awarded the Mil-Spec contract and began production of the Iconic Type I. As a result of both adaptation to the military's needs, as well as different applications, the contract led to the Type I (A and B) and Type II (A and B). The original dial design in the Mil Spec is simple with only block markings for the hours and minutes, and no other markings on the dial whatsoever. The later Type II was the same watch, but with a modified dial which showed standard and military time. The last differentiation for each model was the designation of Class A or B. Class A

watches had tritium hands and markers for visibility at night, while the Class B was designed without any lume or radioactive material as they might be used in locations containing delicate instruments that were sensitive to even the smallest amounts of tritium contained in the lume (for example, on nuclear-powered submarines). While not for a specific branch of the services, the Type I was most commonly issued to the UDT teams where dive operations required this type of watch, but also found its way to the field and even the CIA.
The Type I and Type II in all their variants were produced from 1972 through 1980 with no changes to the design in that time signaling the importance of the design. In total, there were roughly 16,000 produced which with much fewer circulating today.
It is important to note that unlike many of the now "collectible" military pieces, the BENRUS Type I and II were never made available to the public or designed as such. It was a purpose built tool that many years later became recognized for it's advanced design and merits. The watch itself remains fully contemporary in design, but at the same time a mystery to many since this wasn't a watch you could just go out and
buy.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf BENRUS_Type I_Veteran Content Series_Letter.pdf (1,001.6 KB, 7 views)

Last edited by Penn; 07-23-2020 at 07:18. Reason: Add Letter and Photographs of the watch
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