Hands-On: Benrus Field Watch From the Heritage Collection The American Brand Returns with Retro-Themed Pieces by Michael StocktonJanuary 22, 2020 MIN READHands-On: Benrus Field Watch From the Heritage Collection
The return of a once-legendary watch brand is no small thing and we take a look at one of the first new pieces: the Benrus Field Watch.
You’ve no doubt heard of Benrus if you’re a fan of vintage watches. With well-known pieces such as the Sky Chief chronograph and the Vietnam-era MIL-W-3818B standard-issue watch, the company was a household name until it fell victim to the quartz crisis in the 1970s. But I researched Benrus further and was amazed to find out that they tried to maneuver a hostile takeover of Hamilton in the 1950s. The attempt failed and became a precedent-setting case in US Antitrust history. And then, at one point, Benrus was purchased by American entrepreneur Victor Kiam. If you’re old enough and American enough, you might remember his famous Remington Micro Screen electric shaver commercials: I do!
After that, it was a series of bankruptcies, restarts, and lawsuits. But now, Benrus has returned under the ownership of a holding company by the name of Lyft Brands Group and has gained a new lease on life. They even plan to move back to their original headquarters area in NYC within the Hippodrome Building with a showroom and archive. The heritage-themed Benrus Field Watch is one of the stand-out models marking the return of the brand.
A Planned Showroom and Archive in New York City
When you hear about a new showroom in a major American city and visit the Benrus website, it’s hard not to make some instant comparisons to a brand like Shinola. The site is nicely laid out, with the brand’s history and aspirations clearly stated. I make the Shinola comparison because this brand also draws heavily on being American-inspired, retro, and somewhat attuned to the current hipster vibe that we tend either to love or hate. As far as Benrus is concerned, that’s probably not a bad model to aim for. After all, this is a brand that’s been out of the mind’s eye for quite some time and drawing on their history (since 1921) isn’t a bad way to begin. With all that, let’s see how this new Benrus Field Watch stacks up versus some heady competition.
The Benrus Field Watch clocks in at 41mm
The Benrus Field Watch is a 41mm stainless steel watch with a polished case. The watch features a screw-down crown that certainly aids the stated 100-meter water resistance. Inside, we have the Miyota 9015 automatic with hacking and date function that’s visible via a display back.
Upon viewing the new Benrus Field Watch, one can see an immediate dial resemblance to the Vietnam-era MIL-spec watch.
That display back is buttoned-down with four flathead screws, giving it a more highly finished look. Intriguingly, Benrus chose a domed mineral glass crystal as the medium for gazing at the silvery-white dial (a black version and black IP-cased variants are also available) that’s finished with Super Luminova. A non-tapering thick, yet supple, brown leather strap with a signed pin buckle comes with the watch.
Inspiration from a Famous Military Watch
Upon viewing the new Benrus Field Watch, one can see an immediate dial resemblance to the Vietnam-era MIL-spec watch I mentioned above (it’s also akin to the similarly issued Hamilton Khaki Field Watch). With strong Arabic numerals, inward-pointing triangles at each hour and an inner 24-hour scale, it’s a look that we’re familiar with. Ditto that for the lume-filled hands and arrow-tipped sweep seconds indicator. What’s different here, of course, is the addition of a date window at 3 o’clock. Due to the relatively small 26mm diameter of the Miyota within a far larger case, the date cuts off part of the 3 numeral. This will immediately provoke outcry from the retro-faithful, but I am sure that a date-equipped watch appeals to a far wider audience. Frankly, I wasn’t a fan at first but after spending more and more time with the watch, I became accustomed to it.
A Wearable Size Despite the Numbers
The Benrus Field Watch sports a case that’s quite different from its military ancestor. Gone are the slender, tapering lugs and in are some rather beefy alternatives that give this watch a lot of visual heft. In its zipper-case pouch, it looks blocky, but once in the hand it’s actually kind of neat.
These lugs actually curve downward quite dramatically and that makes what is a relatively large watch work on a smaller wrist like mine. In fact, the lug-to-lug length is just shy of 50mm. Thickness wise, I measured 13mm and that makes it quite wearable. You can see above that Benrus broke up the flat case side with its name and three-star logo.
Overall Finishing and the Strap
When handling the Benrus Field Watch, aside from the different sound that mineral glass emits when tapped, the watch feels of more than decent quality. Some will complain that the case lacks any real transformation points from matte to polished surfaces and that it’s fairly basic. That said, I think that works for a watch that’s meant to evoke a more rugged style. Furthermore, I’ve viewed and tested plenty of other watches that vary the surface finishing with only a modicum of success. It’s not really something brands should try unless they are willing to invest enough capital in it to get it right. So, honestly, I’d rather have consistent surfaces instead of vague transitions.
The strap is thick but somehow supple…
I’ll also avow that the screw-down crown worked well and exhibited none of the grittiness that I often find in this feature from smaller brands. The strap is thick but somehow supple. It’s definitely a nice addition to the watch and the inclusion of quick-release spring bars is also a pleasant convenience as the lugs are not cross-drilled. Again, I typically favor a tapering strap, but the constant 22mm nicely balances the heft of the watch on the wrist.
Final Thoughts and Pricing
When I first saw pictures of the new Benrus Field Watch, I wasn’t overly sure of its looks but that admittedly owed to the date window. Furthermore, the size was a bit of a surprise in light of the historical inspiration’s 35mm diameter. Again, though, it fitted me well and would definitely work for those who struggle to wear anything below that magic 40mm mark. What I do wish Benrus would reconsider is the use of mineral glass. Sapphire adds so much to watch of this nature. It is of higher quality and more resistant to scratches.
We’re glad the brand is back in business…
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Miyota movement, but something Swiss would be more in-keeping with the brand’s heritage. It would also better fit the brand’s pricing goals. After all, at $1,095, the Benrus Field Watch isn’t inexpensive and faces a lot of competition in this range. Still, we’re glad the brand is back in business and if some of the rumors we hear are correct, we look forward to the brand’s upcoming releases. For additional information on the Benrus Field Watch, visit the brand’s official site.
Brand Benrus ModelField WatchReferenceB/FIE_3DialSatin white with Super Luminova printed numeralsCase Material316L Stainless SteelCase Dimensions41mm Diameter, 50mm Lug to Lug, 22mm Lug Width, 13mm ThicknessCrystalK-1 Hardened Domed Mineral GlassCase BackScrew-down with display backMovementMiyota 9015 automatic, hacking, hand-winding, quick set date, 28,800 vph, 41 hour power reserveWater Resistance100 metersStrapBrown leather with signed pin buckle and quick release spring barsFunctionsTime (HH:MM:SS), DatePrice$1,095Warranty2 Years Watch of the Week
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About the author
Michael was born in South Florida in the USA. As a full-time role, he works in the Automotive Industry. He's lived and worked in many locations and when he's not cruising at 30,000 feet, he calls Germany home. Michael became… read more
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