At Watch Time New York 2019 (last October) I was introduced to the head designer of Benrus, Fredi Brodmann. His company was not showing at the exhibition but he was there to network and he was not walking around empty-handed either, he had a prototype Air Chief Chronograph from the soon-to-be-launched Benrus watch brand on his wrist.
Brodmann enthusiastically told me about Benrus’ plans to relaunch the entire collection in 2020, as I took the shot (pictured). At the time, I recalled the name from the vintage market and my reaction was that this is a perfect watch brand to be rejuvenated.
He explained how the chronograph is a quartz-driven timepiece (Ronda Swiss Split Time Chronograph) but that much of the collection will be automatic. Quartz is fine but you also need mechanical models in your lineup to be taken seriously by watch enthusiasts, and the Benrus collection does, in fact, have mostly mechanically powered wristwatches available at launch.
Originally founded in 1921 as a watch repair shop in New York City, Benrus eventually went on to make attractive military watches with Swiss movements. The company was once headquartered out of the Hippodrome Building in NYC and for the brand’s revival they are back at that location, led by Mergers & Acquisitions Lawyer, Michael Sweeney. (You can read more about the brand history here.)
Brodmann went on to explain the design details of the prototype watch — such as the inspiration from the company’s vintage Sky Chief, the stencil dial (sandwich dial), a dome crystal (K1 hardened mineral), a screw-down knurled crown, 100 meters of water-resistance, and a satin-finished case — and the price range. At 41 mm, the case size is ideal for many wrists and I imagine there are people searching in this accessible price range that want something distinctive to choose from and with a bit of history backing it up, I know I do.
The red leather strap shown is not standard, but you can get an idea of how the new Benrus collection looks. The Heritage line is affordably priced, starting at $895.
Learn more at Benrus.