The roots of Benrus go back to a watch-repair shop founded in New York City in 1921 by a Romanian immigrant named Benjamin Lazrus. One of three brothers, Lazrus quickly branched into the manufacture of watch cases, which he’d fill with movements, dials, and hands assembled in, and imported from, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. During the 1930s, Benrus watch cases got more stylish, and unlike a lot of other watch manufacturers, the firm did not have to produce watches for the U.S. military during World War II, although it was compelled to manufacture timing devices used in munitions.

By the end of the 1940s, Benrus had released a sophisticated calendar watch, a stylish chronograph called the Sky Chief, a slender ladies wristwatch of diamond-studded platinum, and a gold-plated timepiece for men with a mother-of-pearl dial. The 1950s saw a foiled hostile takeover of Hamilton, as well as the introduction of the Dial-a-Rama, the Wrist Alarm, and a winding indicator that showed the wearer how tightly the watch was wound at a glance, without requiring them to wind it perhaps more than was advisable in order to find out. One of its most unique watches of the 1950s was the one-piece Embraceable, which was put on the wrist like a bracelet, and Benrus also made character watches featuring the likenesses of Dick Tracy and Mickey Mouse.

Automatic, self-winding watches appeared in the early 1960s, which is also when the company made automobile clocks, which were mounted in a car’s steering wheel and wound themselves when the car was turned in one direction or another. The ’60s were also the decade when comedian Jerry Lewis was hired to pitch the Belforte, one of two modestly priced Benrus lines (the other was Sovereign). But in 1964, Benrus was found guilty by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission of misleading consumers when it came to pricing, due to its practice of setting its retail prices at artificially high levels compared to what retail customers actually paid for the watches (the FTC objected to the false impression given to consumers that they were getting an amazing deal—a year later, an appeals court upheld the FTC’s ruling).

In 1967, Benrus was sold to Victor Kiam, who also owned the Remington Razors. In an effort to diversify in the face of inexpensive wristwatches from Japan, Benrus made military watches for soldiers in Vietnam, tried to go after the costume-jewelry market with its Destino line, and made products branded as Christian Dior. But it was not enough, and by 1977, the company was bankrupt. Recently, in 2012, the Benrus brand was acquired by a high-end, luxury wristwatch company in Belgium, which is offering two Benrus models, the N°1 and the Philo, the later of which comes in two flavors, each limited to a run of just 100 timepieces.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Hard To Find Vintage 1940's Men's S/s Benrus Sky Chief Chronograph Watch SignedBenrus Military Chronometer, Mil-w-50717, Type !!, Class A, Dated July 1973Vintage 1950's Men's Benrus Gold Filled Calendar Watch 4 Repair Or PartsVintage Benrus Direct Reader Jumping Hour MovementsVintage 1960's Men's Benrus 3 Star Automatic Self-winding Great Lugs Watch NiceBenrus Mens, Very Rare & Very Nice, Diamond Dial, 17j, Gp/ss, Vintage, Watch.1940/50s Vintage Benrus Sky Chief Chronograph Venus 178 Parts. Incomplete As Is.Vintage Benrus Wristalarm Mens Windup Watch With Alarm 2 Crowns 31.75mm ***nrBenrus Jumping Hour 20microns Goldplated Handwind Mens WatchLadies Antique Art Deco Benrus Watch 15j 14k Gold Supported By Metal~mesh BandVintage Man's Benrus Wristwatch Working 1940's Rare Vintage Benrus Art Deco Roman Dial Swing Lugs H/w Gold Plate WatchVintage Benrus Dial O Rama Model Parts Movement And CaseLot Of 54 Signed Wrist Watch Crowns Elgin Longines Hamilton Bulova Benrus Etc.Vintage Mixed Watches Lot Bulova Bradley Harvel Vantage Waltham Benrus Lot#mx1Vintage Ladies Watch Movement Lot Hamilton Elgin Bulova Benrus LonginesVintage Benrus Black White Triangle Dial Men's Watch As Is Parts Or RepairMilitary Watch Hamilton For The Vietnam War Issued In 1971Vintage Mixed Watches Lot Hamilton Longines Benrus Bulova Elgin Lot#mx9Lot Of 4 Vintage Men's Watches. Seiko. Benrus.waltham.lucien Piccard Pennard Vintage Ladies Watch Movement Lot Hamilton Elgin Bulova Benrus1960s Benrus 14k Gold 21 Jewel Mens Winding Wrist Watch ServicedMilitary Watch Benrus Us Army For The Vietnam War Issued In 1968-1975Lot #360 Ladies Vintage 1930's - 40's Benrus 14k Watch Vtg Rugged Benrus Men Watch Ultra Steel Military Time Black DialVintage Watch Lot As Found Rolex Gucci Timex Lucerne Benrus Lucerne Pocket +++Lot Of 100+ Wrist Watches 10 Lbs Elgin Timex Lorus Fossil Benrus BulovaLot Watches 12 Vintage Titan Benrus Jaz Helbros Swatch Seiko Victorinox4 Vintage Wristwatches + Movement Incl Elgin Benrus For Spares Repair PartsVintage Benrus 17 Jewel Self Winding Men's Wrist Watch Fe 2d5 Runs Gold PlateBenrus 17j Us Military Veit Nam Era Wrist Watch For Parts Or RepairMoms Estate 30 Ladies Vintage Watches Repair/parts Hamilton Omega Benrus+moreBenrus 17 Jewel Wrist Alarm Men's Watch Gold Filled With Stainless Steel BackVintage Benrus Ladies 14k Yellow Gold Wristwatch Working (5671)Men's Benrus Quartz Watch ~ New Battery ~ Stainless Steel Band ~ Water ResistantVintage Benrus Rhinestone Dial Mens W/ Watch 1940sVintage Benrus Self-winding Automatic Watch Vintage Benrus 3 Star Self Winding Men's Wristwatch # 7021 Series WatchBenrus Hand Winding Mens WristwatchNice Vintage Watch Lot For Parts Or Repair,bulova,doxa,waltham,gruen,benrusVintage Benrus Men's Mechanical Gold-filled Wrist Watch For RepairMens Benrus Citation Electronic WatchAntique Solid 14k Gold Benrus Ladies Or Gents Watch~~running Exc~11.7 GramsBeautiful Mens 1960s Vintage Automatic Racing Competition Ii Benrus Wrist WatchVintage Benrus Wristwatch-day DateVintage Benrus Shock Absorber Gold Plated Mens Watch With Date Women's Vintage 1960's Benrus Diamond 10kt Gold Plate Hand Winding Watch RunsVintage Wrist Watch Benrus In Great Working Order.Vintage Wristwatch Benrus Black Dial Selfwinding 3 Star !jay6Vintage Men's Benrus Wristwatch Parts Or Repair Vintage Benrus 10k Gold Filled Wind Up Wrist Watch 1960s Men'sBenrus Type 1 Reissue Dive Watch Quartz PvdBenrus Mens, Very Rare, Tri Color Dial, 17j, 10k Rgp, Vintage, Working Watch.Vintage Watch Parts For Repair - Rolex Bulova Gruen Benrus Elgin Waltham1965 Benrus Model# 3021 Shock Absorber Mens WristwatchVintage Benrus Legacy Watch With Day/nightVintage Benrus Men's Wristwatch 17 Jewels 10k Gold Filled Case Runs Mens Benrus Series # 3021 Stainless Steel Watch Face Self Winding Working Vintage Men's Benrus Shockproof Wrist WatchVintage Retro Deco Benrus Swiss Running Mens Wrist Watch