This Benrus Type I watch was issued to a member of a U. S. Navy, EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Team. EOD is part of USN Special Operations, with personnel who dismantle and render safe unexploded ordnance, including underwater mines, landmines and IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Team members are trained in diving, parachuting, combat and explosives.
With the experience gained through the beginning of the Vietnam War and the increasing use of covert and specialized military teams such as, the US Navy UDT/SEALs, US Navy EOD, US Navy Divers, Army Rangers, Green Berets, and CIA operatives, Circa 1970, the Department of Defense determined that specialists in these units needed a robust, purpose-built dive watch. The military wrote Mil-Spec MIL-W-50717, that specified the design details for the BENRUS Type I diving and field watch.
The Type I would be a larger, shock proof, highly legible, waterproof (to 1,200 feet), self-winding watch that was truly durable enough for the special military units to whom the watches would be issued.
Yes, Benrus is right . . . the Type I is “the watch of American heroes”. When time permits, I’ll publish the story of the hero who wore this particular watch. This watch was produced by Benrus circa 1979.
Special thanks to Robert Jackson for information and advice relating to this watch.
For information about the history of these watches, see the posting on Worn and Wound — Benrus Type I and Type II MIL-W-50717 Military Dive Watches. Benrus produced a re-issue of the original Type I in 2020; this posting provides information about the original watch, as well as the re-issue — Review: the Benrus Type I Reissue.