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    

Vintage 1965 Benrus 17 Jewel Wind Military Men's Watch Vietnam Hack Dtu-2a/pBenrus Type 2 Class A Military Wrist Watch 1978 Nice! Running30mm Benrus Day/date Men's Wrist Watch - 10k Rgp Bezel - Runs (n168)Benrus 3 Star 17 Jewels Self Winding Automatic Black Dial Fancy Claw Lugs WatchClean!!! Mens Vintage Solid 14k Gold Benrus Fancy Art Deco Lugs Wrist WatchBenrus Military Stainless Steel Handwind Mens WatchVintage Gold Filled 10k Rolled Gold Men's Benrus Wristwatch W SecondsVintage Gold-filled Benrus Mechanical Wristwatch - Excellent Design - Orig. DialNice Vintage Benrus Wrist Watch* *runs*Vintage Lot Of Men's Watches,bands & Some Ladies, Omega,benrusOld Benrus Wrist Alarm Watch Waterproof Wristwatch Watchmaker For Repair PartsMen's Vintage Wrist Watch Lot 21pc Longines, Elgin, Benrus, Illinois + As ShownVintage Benrus 17 J Men's Automatic Wrist Watch 12gib2 Cal 339 Runs 14 K ElectroBenrus Bulova Mens Gold Filled / Stainless Vintage Watch Lot For Parts/repairVintage Benrus Rare Tricolor Dial Mens Watch Circa 1940s WorksVintage 1982 Military Hamilton Benrus Gg-w-113 No. 6645-00-066-4279 OriginalBenrus Jump Hour WatchVintage 17 J Benrus Swiss Ba 2 Wind-up Mens Watch 10k Rolled Gold Pl Sub-second Nos-benrus-alarm-case-with-crowns-dial-and-hands Black Dial Vintage Diamond Benrus With Flower Gold-filled Band Art Deco Ladies WatchBenrus Self Winding Men Wrist Watch W/ Date Runs 14k Solid Yellow Gold #32-623 Pcs Vintage Wrist Watch Lot 14k Gf Mauran M Mathey Benrus Bulova FairfaxLot Of 5 Vintage Lady's Wristwatches Crosby, Benrus Etc. For Parts-repairVintage Benrus (nautical) Mint-crystal Rare (kreisler A. Caiman Band) Mens WatchVintage Mens Windup Watch Repair Parts Lot Elgin Natl Pocket Timex Benrus AvalonVintage Benrus Alarm Beautiful Blue Dial Hand-wind Early 1960s No Reserve #143Vintage Assorted Watches Bulova,gucci,seiko,gruen,benrus,timex Or RepairMens Vintage 1950/60's Benrus*serviced*copper Tone Dial*ready2wearVintage Benrus Watch Bottle Cap Case Fancy Lugs 1950'sAntique Lot Of 2 Benrus Men's Swiss Wristwatches. Benrus Dial O Rama Fg25, 17 JVintage Lot Of 5 Mens Wristwatches Benrus Caravelle Timex Ralco Gem 17 All Work!Vintage Lot Of 6 Watches Bulova Elgin Benrus, Others For Repair Or PartsVintage Ladies Watch Movement Lot Bulova Benrus Elgin And OthersLot Of Vintage Gruen Benrus Waltham Wittnauer Watches Parts Or Repair D 2Vintage 17 J Benrus Swiss Wind-up Mens Watch 10k Gold Filled F&s New Stitched BJob Lot Mens Vintage Watches Needing Attention Benrus Citizen Sekonda Camy Ect 8March 1968 U.s.m.c. Issued Military Wristwatch, Benrus? W/"hack", U.s. MarkedVintage Lot Of 13 Pocket Watches/case-waltham-westclox-benrus-remington-keystoneStrada, Men's Watch, Women Gucci, Diamond Quartz, Milan, Benrus, Watch Lot Of 6Wrist Watch Lot Swiss Elgin Bulova Hamilton Benrus La Cloche Men's Vtg Old Vintage Ladies Watch Movement Lot Bulova Hamilton Benrus LonginesVintage 25 Jewel Benrus 3 Star Automatic Men's Wrist Watch Ticks- G.f. Case (ct)Ladies Watch Lot For Parts Or Repair Gruen Benrus ++Lot Of 6 Vintage Ladies Watches Bulova (2) Wittnauer, Benrus 4 Gold Fill BandsVintage Benrus 17j Mens Wristwatch Parts Or Repair1960 Era Benrus Veri-thin Man's Wristwatch, 17j, Gf Bezel & Expansion BandNice Find - Benrus Wrist Alarm Swiss 34mm Men's Wrist Watch - Runs4vintage Ladies Watches Art Deco Gruen Bulova Benrus Benrus Germany Wrist Alarm/alarm Sets Fine-missing Knob-functions????Vintage Swiss Benrus 17 Jewels Wristwatch Rare Model Ce 13, 10k Rgp Bezel, RunsMens Vintage 1940's/50's Benrus*clean Dial*newly Serviced*ready 2 Wear*1 Men's Watch( Benrus 3 Stars, Self Winding( Automatic ), Swiss, Works )Vintage Gold Fd Large Antique Art Deco Benrus Multifunction Chronograph Watch NrLot Of Vintage Bulova Gruen Benrus Watches Running See Descrip Before Bid D 6Huge Watch Lot 79 Helbros Timex Disney Geneva Benrus Seiko Fossil Gruen MonetLot Of 5 Men's Wristwatches: Benrus, Unused Russian Paratrooper And ChronographWatch Lot Vintage 9 Rare Helbros Fontaine, Elgin, Benrus, TimexVintage Ladies Benrus 17j Wristwatch,14k White Gold Case,not Running Condition Vintage Swiss Benrus Men's WristwatchBenrus White Style Series Engraved #3061 Men's Wrist Watch, Mechanical Hand Wind