Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Benrus DTU-2A/P watch

This a review of the Benrus DTU-2A/P military watch. This watch conforms to the requirements of MIL-W-3818B that came out in 1964. The other company that came out with watches that conforms to that specification is Bulova. These watches were issued to US Army personnel. This watch was issued from 1964 to 1969. From my reading, this watch was replaced by the GG-W-113 in 1969.

There are some interesting aspects to the watch and these are explained below. I have made comparisons to other watches of the same make and also watches from the same Contract Number and year of issue (but different month).

General Specifications:

Function: Hour, minutes and seconds, 24 hour indicator
Case: Parkerized steel
Movement: 17 jewel Benrus DR2 F2 hand wind hacking movement


This watch comes in single case design (one-piece case). The case is made of corrosion resistant steel (parkerized?). The case has a matte grey finish. It is 34 mm in diameter and measures 41mm lug to lug. Lug width is 18 mm and it is 10 mm in height. The case is well made and there are no shape edges. The lugs are drilled and unlike other military watches, this watch does not come with the fixed bars. The watch has been fitted with new spring bars. I like this design as it allows the owner a wider selection of straps to be fitted to the watch. The drilled lugs makes removal of the spring bars easier.

The drilled lugs.

Servicing these watches is possible but best left to the professional as access to the movement on the one-piece design is via removal of the crystal. The photographs below shows the watch in disassembled state. As we can see from the photograph, the case back is thin as we can see the engravings on the case back inside the case. The inside of the case is polished.

The case with the movement removed. This is before the case was cleaned. Note the marks on the base of the case from the engraving on the case back.

After cleaning.

The markings on the case back, in the center of the case back: Contract Number (?), Serial number and date (issue date?). Around the perimeter of the case back we find: Fed Stock Number. 6645-066-4279, U.S., Manufacturer Part Number XZ73065 and Wrist Watch DTU-2A/P Mil-W-3818B. This watch is from 1969. The case back may look like it can be removed, but it cannot.

The crown is non screw down crown. It is 5 mm in diameter and 2.5 mm thick. The crown has 2 position, the first is for winding and the second for adjustment of the hands. The crown is wonderful to use and pulling out the crown for adjustment is easy. There is a 'dimple (more like a line)' on the crown. This is to indicate the position of the stem (male). If the line is vertical to the case, the movement can be removed as the 2-piece stem is align for removal. Look at the attached photographs.

The crown and the male portion of the 2 part stem (uncleaned).

Another view.

The female portion of the 2 stem design (not cleaned).

Another view.

The crown (male) after it has been cleaned. It looks like the stem is threaded into the male end of the stem.

Another view.

The crown in the case ready for the movement. Note the male part of the stem in vertical position to receive the female portion of the stem.

The water resistance rating of the watch? Well based on the MIL-W-3818B specifications, the watch is to be tested to 5.5 inches of mercury. That equates to 6 to 7 feet of water. As such the water resistant rating of this watch is 0.19 ATM (1 ATM = 32 feet).


The movement that drives the watch is made by Benrus. It is the DR2 F2. I understand it is based on the ETA 2370. It is a Swiss made 11.5 ligne, 17 jewels hand-wound movement. It beats at 18,000 A/h and has a power reserve of 46 hours. The movement has the hacking capability.

The movement is a basic 3 hand movement, with a central sweep second. There is no date complication. As such the crown has a 2 position setting. In for winding the movement and position 1 (pulled) for setting the time.

The interesting about the movement that powers my watch is the balance cock. It is brass colour unlike the rest of the movement. I have seen other DR2 F2 movement and all those movement are the same colour. I wonder of the balance cock has been replaced. However the markings on the balance cock 'AXZ/ ANZ (?)' is the same as other DR2 F2 movements that I have seen. If you at the photograph below, you will see that the ETA signature below the balance has been removed leaving a partial '2'.

The movement holder is made of metal. This I like.


This is a simple watch as can be seen for the photographs. The dial is matte black. Although the dial has the 12 hour and 24 hour markers, the dial does not look busy. The font chosen for the hour markers is good and makes reading the time easy. The 24 hour markers are smaller as compared to the 12 hour markers.

The hour index markers are luminous. The hands are also luminous and that includes the second hand. The lume on this watch have aged well and is even across the dial and hands. I just love the patina. I believe the luminous material used is 'Tritium' as there is a 'T' marking above the 12 o'clock marker.

Now the interesting thing about the dial. The '12' hour marker at the 12 o'clock position is also luminous. This is not as per the requirements of MIL-W-3818. This however appears on the requirements of MIL-W-46374. I do not know if the dial on my watch is original to the watch or has been changed sometime during its life. However I was informed by the seller that he got the watches that way. I do know that Benrus also made watches that meet MIL-W-46374 specifications. Could it be that the dial is from MIL-W-46374 specifications fitted to this watch as the MIL-W-46374 came out after the MIL-W-3818B. The application of the luminous material on the number '12' is not very good as can be seen from the photographs. There are some 'spread'.

The other interesting aspect of the dial is the legend below the 6 o'clock marker. On some dials that I have seen on the Internet, the only legend is 'SWISS'. However on this dial, the legend is '2155 SWISS 6015 (?)'. The only other dial I have seen with such legend is on Hyunsuk's website (although the pictures are not that clear).


The hands on the watch is well made. The hour and minute hands are of the skeleton hands design. The hands (except the sweep second) are rendered in white. The center portion of the hour and minute hands are filled with luminous material. The minute hand extends to the minute scale while the hour hand extends to the Arabic numeral hour marker. This makes reading the time at a glance easy.

The sweep second hand is rendered in 3 colours. The balance portion of the second hand is rendered in white while the hands are luminous coated (same material as the hour and minute hands). The triangle tip is luminous orange. You can just make out the colours on the second hand.


The crystal is I believe acrylic. I know (from readings) the crystal is a Stella WEC (size 27.5) crystal. The crystal also holds the movement in place. The crystal is of the wedge ledge design. There are no anti-reflection coating on the crystal.


The watch came without the band. I currently have the watch on a generic black NATO strap.


I like this watch. It may end up being a franken-watch (assuming the dial and balance is not original to the watch), but I still like it. It may be a small at 34 mm in diameter, but the all dial design (no bezel) makes it looks bigger. It is light and comfortable. The matte case and dial makes it discrete and can be worn in any occasion. It may not have the water resistant of many modern watches, but I guess if it is good enough for the military, it must be good.


  1. Great review. It's great to take such a close look at this one. Thanks.

  2. Hi Riley,

    Thank you for the kind words. Will strive to improve the reviews.

    Best regards,


  3. Hi Ivan,
    I have picked up a couple of these cheaply with the full expectation that they were probably fake. However they seem to conform exactly to your descriptions and photos above with the exceptions of the tri colour sweep seconds hand (a re-paint, I think) and the crown which does not have a dimple or alignment mark. So, I cannot examine the movements. One telling point is the serial numbers. One is 019332 dated Dec 1969 and the other 019341 dated Dec 1967. So unless they re-commenced serial numbers each year, I guess I was right in my suspicions. Any ideas?? Cheers and what a great review from you. Warren

  4. Hi Warren,

    Welcome to the blog. Thank you for the kind words. I am no expert on the Benrus watches, but I remember reading that the serial number of the watch was reset sometime in 1967. As such I would not discount the fact that it could be original. As for the crown, I have seen a number of these watches where the crown does not have the alignment marks or dimple.

    I would suggest you post the pictures of your watches on the MWR forum and ask the experts there if your watch is original or not. I believe there is a gentleman there that maintains the serial numbers of military watches. Maybe he has the serial numbers for the Benrus DTU 2A/P.

    Sorry I could not be of more help.

    Best regards,


  5. Hi everybody,

    It's great to have made this beautiful review.
    I began to be interested in US military watches very recently.
    And I bough a Benrus DTU 2ap Watch in great shape like this one in december.
    Looking for spare parts on the web ( I am very carefull)I think I have an explanation for the brass balance cock :
    It came from a Benrus DR 25 movement, witch is very similar but doesn't have the balance-anchor setting capability, if you know what a little frenchy want to explain !

    Best regards


  6. Hi Jean-Michel,

    Welcome to the blog. That is an interesting explanation. Will check it out.


    Best regards,


  7. As far as serial numbers go. I have one of these with a known history that I received from my uncle who bought it new when he was in the USAF. It is dated OCT 1965 and has a serial number of 074908. So I would doubt the authenticity of the watch. The correct band for this watch is a fairly heavy nylon strap and the one I have is a brownish olive color with a clasp of brass/bronze coated steel. The strap is one piece and is threaded over the bars and under the case.

    These were tritium illuminated originally but with a half life of a little more than 12 year they are no longer self illuminating. They will glow for a while when exposed to light but fade after a few minutes.

    It keeps fairly good time (2 months of use with out adjusting to a different time zone and it only gained 14 seconds) for a watch that is 49 years old.

    1. Hi Bob,

      Welcome to the blog. Congrats on the watch and wear it with good health.

      Best regards,


  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Hi, I have a benrus 3818B, I think some one put too hard the stem locking system is broken, now the stem won't stay on or set times, do you know the part #?, it's call setting lever?, thanks for your time

  10. hello, just came across your blog and was so pleased to see such appreciation for these less expensive classics. I have my grandfathers sept. 1964 and ware it often and it's my my favorite, in part for the history i admit. Mine does not have a illuminated 12th hr. on it and I have done some research on it when I saw many with it illuminated. It was a couple years ago so I'm sorry i don't remember the site I found it at. I did manage to see the military order with the specs on it and the original face did not call for an illuminated 12th hr. BUT, it was revised a few years later to include it so you quite possibly do have the original. You would have to check the date of issue and compare tit to the revision. I'm sure with a little effort you would bump into the site I found it at, and just from memory it some kind of online watch collectors club. I found this on accident when researching, and don't laugh at me, what was this hacking feature they keep referring to. As I am from the era where hacking refers to computers I was really interested in this feature and so disappointed when I found out it meant to stop the second hand. Although I still have not found anywhere that will explain to me just how I do that. If you could tell me I would appreciate it greatly. I would recommend a new band, I have the one my grandfather used still on mine. I think it really up classes the watch allot. It's a custom fit stretch band in perfectly matching dulled down stainless. I would give you pic but I see no option for that on your page. I'll check back in a few days and weeks to see if you could help me out with how to hack my watch. Thank you

  11. I have two that my grandfather gave me he was in the USAF for 43 years many of which were spent as a inventory clerk so he ended up collecting all sorts of bizzare GI issue things over that time. One is a dtu-2a/p made in April of 1969 and has the basic dial with no Swiss marking or illuminated 12 marker.The other is a gg-w-113 from 1971, the dial on it is more akin to yours with the brighter illuminated orange paint but without the Swiss marking and maybe the 12 had been painted at one point and just faded.from all the examples I've seen the GI watches tended to avoid putting anything other than the the basic 24 hour markings on the dial until they started putting the Swiss markings and a radioactive waste marking on the dials in the 80s . but the case markings on yours along with the movements markings are the same as the dtu-2a/ps I've seen so I'd assume that at some point the face had cracked or something similar and someone just replaced the glass and dial itself with newer ones just my two cents worth but I figured I'd throw it out there. Also icodious you're right hacking on a manual watch isn't breaking into the backdoor of a government website, it just means that the second arm stops when you pull out the stem generally it's used for more accurate time setting. Anyways thanks for your time have a good one.

    1. Here's a good reference page for all the different models and specs along with a guide for spotting counterfeits.

  12. I just cleaned out a garage containing about 60 years worth of hoarding and the only thing I took home with me was a watch dated 1965. I googled the part # only and the first hit was this page. Very cool to have come across this today!

  13. Thank you for your breakdown! I just recently discovered my father's October 1968 Benrus DTU-2A/P MIL-W-3818B as it was tucked away in his flight bag. A beautiful watch with the serial number 001497.