Benrus 14k Gold Sky Chief Triple Date Chronograph in NOS
Case: 14k gold case with snap back, pointed lugs, polished bezel, rectangular pushers in the band, correctors in the left band, case in NOS condition with original manufacturer protection purple paint.
Dial: silvered with applied Arabic and dot numerals, outer date ring with central arrow date hand, two apertures below 12 o’clock for month and day, three subsidiary dials for constant seconds and 30 minute and 12 hour registers, central chronograph hand. Two millimiter hairline scratch above 7 O'clock at the 10H level of the hour counter subdial
Movement: Cal. 72C, rhodium-plated, 17 jewels, straight line lever escapement, mono-metallic balance, self-compensating flat balance-spring. Movement is NOS
Diameter: 35mm Thickness: 12mm
In 1921, the Lazrus brothers (Benjamin, Oscar, and Ralph) joined together to create Benrus, an American watchmaking company with the goal of re-imagining the industry. Most of the watch movements and dials were produced at the company’s manufacture in Switzerland, while cases were produced in Connecticut, building a reputation for mid-priced accurate wristwatches. In the late 1930’s, the company began producing “military” wristwatches, not officially issued by the US military, but with some of the specifications and available for civilian purchase. Out of this effort came the Sky Chief model, introduced in 1940.
The first Sky Chief models were produced as pilot’s watches, with chronograph function and luminous numerals and hands. One interesting feature of the Sky Chief is the markings on the 30 minute counter. Similar chronographs by other brands mark the minutes at 3, 6, and 9 minutes, but the Sky Chief marks 4, 8, and 12 minutes. There are several theories as to why this is the case, the most popular being that 3/6/9 has to do with timing phone calls to Europe (pay phones required a coin deposit every 3 minutes), while 4/8/12 has to do with aviation professionals – either measuring changes in celestial bodies (sun and stars) for air navigation, or for doing a standard holding pattern.
After the war ended, Benrus became the official supplier to a number of commercial airlines. With the popularity of the Sky Chief chronograph model, Benrus produced a triple-date chronograph version that was available in both stainless steel and 14k gold. The present example, in a NOS 14k gold case and with beautifully preserved silvered dial, is an excellent opportunity to collect an attractive and complicated timepiece.