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Windup Watch Shop Exclusive - The Return of the Benrus Series #3061 from “Bullitt”
Words by Windup Watch Shop

Field watches are the work boots of the watch world. Simple, rugged, purposeful, they are function driven and unintentionally stylish. With dozens, if not hundreds of versions on the market and made through history, what distinguishes them apart are fine details, the brands behind them, and the provenance of individual models. Few field watches have as good of a story to tell as the Benrus Series #3061, which we’re excited to say returns today, launching exclusively at the Windup Watch Shop.

The film Bullitt is as well known for its epic car chase through the city of San Francisco as for its iconic star, Steve McQueen (ok, and his green Ford Mustang GT fastback). A man who exuded masculine style, anything McQueen touched was anointed as cool for the ages. Watches are no exception.

In the film, he plays Frank Bullitt, a SF detective up against the mob. His character is tough, but cool. He wears a blue turtleneck under a brown tweed jacket with charcoal slacks to contend with the San Franciscan weather. On his feet is some form of chukka, perhaps a British desert boot. Large Persol sunglasses cover his eyes. The costume designer was said to have been inspired by McQueen’s own wardrobe and style for the fit. The watch on his wrist? A very understated but timely variation on a field watch called the Benrus Series #3061.

What made the Benrus Series #3061 unique is that it was a civilian version of a military issued field watch. Built off of Mil-W-3818B spec from 1962, Benrus produced the DTU-2AP field watches in mass during the Vietnam War era. There are various differences between the civilian 3061 and the DTU-2AP models, but the easiest to spot are that the issued versions had matte cases and sterile (no logo) dials, whereas the civilian version were polished and had “Benrus” printed just below twelve. More subtle differences are the red tipped second hand and lumed numerals on the civilian model.

The #3061 was essentially a dressed up version of a watch designed for combat. Can you think of a more perfect watch for a well-dressed detective in the late ‘60s? A professional who might just have to race a car through city streets and kick some ass? Not a flashy watch, not even a watch that really stands out on film. It’s the right watch, which is why it’s so cool.

It’s with the excellent background that today’s announcement of the new Benrus Series #3061 is so exciting. It’s the return of a sleeper icon. A real McQueen watch. Updated for modern tastes, the reissued #3061 keeps the reserved, confident style of the original that made it the right choice for Frank Bullitt’s wrist. Upsized from the original to 39.5mm x 48mm x 12mm, it has a greater presence on the wrist and at-a-glance legibility. It is also finished with a satin brush, rather than a full polish. The crystal remains a double-domed acrylic, which is both shatter-resistant and full of vintage charm.

Inside is a Soprod P024 Swiss-made movement. Featuring 25-jewels, it’s an automatic with 38 hours of power reserve, hacking, hand winding, no “phantom” date position, and a frequency of 28,800 bph. The original was a manual wound movement, but the added convenience of automatic winding is a logical upgrade for a modern tool watch.

The dial stays incredibly faithful to the original. The design is the same, as is the application of the lume. It’s not tritium, obviously, but rather brightly glowing C3 SuperLuminova. The logo is present, and the second hand is painted white with a bold red tip. A small detail, the hint of red adds that x-factor to the #3061 that makes it stand out from other field watches of the era. 

In a nod to the automotive elements of the film, the Benrus Series #3061 comes mounted to a black leather rally strap with red accent stitching. An aggressive addition, it brings some of Frank’s rugged demeanor to the watch as well. Additionally, the first 50 ordered through the Windup Watch Shop will include a 20mm Forest ADPT Mil-Strap, a great choice for summer months; it hints at the green of the iconic Mustang featured in the film.

Back in 2014, an article ran on Worn & Wound called Affordable Vintage: The Bullitt Benrus. This was one of, if not the, first time the Benrus Series #3061 was directly associated with the film and its sartorial star. In addition to just being the kind of watch that gets us excited, this link makes the exclusive launch of the new #3061 a special one.

To experience the Benrus Series #3061 reissue in a cinematic form, check out Time Starts Now, an “expanded universe sequel” to Bullitt created by Worn & Wound for Benrus. A fan-fiction script based on the main character’s classic line from the original, the post and behind-the-scenes video put the new watch into the context of the streets of San Francisco, on the wrist of a deserving, and well-dressed, new protagonist.

Assembled in the US, the Benrus Series #3061 is available now for $595. Check them out here.