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 his Benrus, the Ref. 3061, ticks all the boxes: strong link to McQueen, check; racing heritage, check; presence in an epic film, check. However, we will state this up front - this is not a Benrus "Bullitt," but the rather similar 1960s Benrus Ref. 3065 mechanical.
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, similar to the Ref. 3065 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 “Benrus Bullitt” sobriquet.
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 Ref. 3065 is unmistakably military in appearance, akin to Department of Defense MIL-W-46374 watch specifications, with few exceptions – to include the same matte bead-blasted case and the sterile dial on the military-issued version.
Despite this Ref. 3065 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 on a leather rally strap, and with nylon strap, rugged travel case, and springbar tool.
1960s Benrus Ref. 3065 Mechanical Watch
DIAL: Sterile Benrus dial (akin to the military variant), with aged patina on the dial indices and hands.
CASE: Common for the era, this watch measures 34mm (35.5mm w/crown) x 40.5mm parkerized 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 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. 3065 comes on a brown leather rally strap, as well as an OD green nylon strap – both of which nicely compliment the military look of this Benrus.
MOVEMENT: 17-jewel Benrus manual wind ETA 2372 mechanical movement.
CROWN: Unsigned stainless-steel crown.