Regardless of his passing over four decades ago, Steve McQueen remains the paradigm of cool to this day – and naturally, if we are talking about him here, it’s got something to do with vintage watches. And this one here ticks all the boxes: strong link to McQueen, check; racing heritage, check; presence in an epic film, check.
While McQueen may be better known for his Heuer 1133B Monaco or his Rolex Submariner 5512, there exists another far more attainable watch linked to him – the civilian variant of the military-issued 1960s Benrus Ref. 3061, like this example here. The Benrus 3061 adorned McQueen’s wrist in his arguably most famous film, the 1968 action thriller, “Bullitt,” and McQueen wore one during his epic car chases - earning the watch here the sobriquet of the “Benrus Bullitt.”
In the 1960s, Benrus no doubt recognized the quality of the simple military designs they were producing for the United States Government and debuted a version of the watch on the commercial market.
The Bullitt is unmistakably military in appearance, akin to Department of Defense MIL-W-46374 watch specifications, with a few exceptions – the case is polished (unlike the matte finish on the military-issued variant), the seconds hand on the Bullitt is tipped with red, and Benrus signed the dial (unlike the sterile dial on the military-issued version). But the movement, the reliable Benrus DR 2F2 inside remains the same. Despite this Ref. 3061 being built for the civilian market, it remains strictly utilitarian in design. No fancy buttons or bezels. Just a very simple and reliable watch that does what it is specified to do – tell time on the battlefield.
This watch comes with a leather strap, nylon NATO strap, Pelican travel case, and springbar tool.
1960s Benrus Ref. 3061 Steve McQueen “Bullitt” Mechanical Watch
DIAL: Benrus-signed dial, and excellently aged patina on the dial indices and hands. Please note, dial remains in great condition, with the majority of the imperfections seen existing on the original crystal, not dial.
CASE: Common for the era, this watch measures 34mm (35.5mm w/crown) x 40.5mm stainless-steel case. Of note, unlike the military-issued variant, this Benrus features removeable springbars – vice fixed – allowing the use of regular straps or bracelets.
CRYSTAL: Acrylic crystal with several small scratches and imperfections. It can be difficult to find watches such as these without scratches – after all, they’re served rough duty, even if not military-issued.
BAND: This Ref. 3061 comes with a brown leather strap, as well as a black nylon NATO strap – both of which nicely compliment the military look of this Benrus.
MOVEMENT: 17-jewel Benrus DR 2F2 hand wound mechanical movement, in essence a Benrus-signed ETA 2372 movement. Keeping to its military roots, this Benrus movement is hacking.
CROWN: Unsigned stainless-steel crown.