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In early 1964, the Marine Corps submitted a Military Interdepartmental Purchase Request to purchase 10,849 watches. Benrus - along with Longines-Wittnauer, Mathey-Tissot, and Clinton Watch of Chicago - submitted samples to the U.S. Department of Defense in bid for the DoD contract.


But only Benrus met (and surpassed) all specifications put forth by the DoD, with the proposal subsequently issued to Benrus that same year. That watch was the MIL-W-3818B – like the full-serviced late 1960s United States military-issue Benrus DTU-2A/P mechanical here – which features both 12 and 24 hour markers and was the predecessor to the legendary MIL-W-46374. 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.


While this watch here was likely issued to USMIL soldiers, it was also issued to another U.S. Government entity, no doubt for the same reasons.  It was - per aution house Phillips in late 2019 - chosen by a certain three letter intelligence agency to outfit their officers during the Viet Nam conflict.  Per the Phillips article, "The U.S. had a covert presence in Vietnam beginning in the mid-1950s, far earlier than the large-scale mobilization seen after the Gulf of Tonkin incident which occurred in 1964.”


“The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in particular had operatives in place starting in 1954. They worked steadily in the region, operating in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, until the U.S. signed the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 and began the withdrawal of all U.S. personnel.  These CIA operatives were acting as advisors, and they had very few obvious military designations.”


Consigned by the daughter of United States Air Force Senior Master Sergeant James J. Stanford, who wore his during his 1960/1970s Laos tours, during which he was assigned to the Kingdom of Laos to advise General Vang Pao on air operations for the Laotian Civil War.


In the accompanying signed provenance letter, his daughter writes (again, per Phillips), “These were very special to him, issued by the CIA…in the Kingdom of Laos in the 1960s and 1970s for 13 years.  This gave the USA plausible deniability as the USA only recently acknowledged we were ever in the country of Laos.  We grew up with the stories of Laotian General Vang Po and Tony Poe that were the inspiration for Marlon Brando’s Army special forces colonel-gone-rogue in the 1979 movie, Apocalypse Now.  He worked with these guys every day.”


“When we saw him packing these watches, we knew he would be leaving us for many months.  He told us these watches were the only ones that would not get fouled in the shroud lines of his parachutes and he could use them underwater because they glowed in the dark.  As kids, my brother and I marveled at the glow-in-the-dark dials and worried that the bad guys could find him. 


"‘Don’t worry, in the jungle the watch glow looks like fireflies.’  Stanford flew 218 combat missions in Laos and Vietnam with these watches strapped to his wrist, using them to time the period between bombings.”  In 2019, Stanford was inducted to the Air Force Special Operations Combat Control Hall of Fame for his outstanding service and achievements.

This USMIL-issued Benrus DTU-2A/P comes on a leather-backed canvas camo strap, and with a nylon strap, rugged travel case, and springbar tool.

USMIL-Issued 1967 Benrus MIL-W-3818B-spec DTU-2A/P Watch

Out of Stock
  • DIAL: Benrus-signed dial, and excellently aged patina on the dial indices and hands.  The dial is in great condition, with few imperfections.


    CASE: Common for the era, this watch measures 34mm (35.5mm w/crown) x 40.5mm stainless-steel bead-blasted matte case. 


    CRYSTAL: Domed acrylic crystal has no cracks.  It can be difficult to find watches such as these without scratches – after all, they’re served rough duty, especially if military-issued.


    BAND: This Benrus comes on a leather-based camo canvas strap; it also comes with a black nylon and Velcro "NASA" strap, a quite comfortable strap that can be easily sized to the close specifications of your wirst.


    MOVEMENT: 17-jewel Benrus hand wound mechanical movement; keeping to its military roots, this Benrus movement is hacking.  We have performed a full service on this watch.


    CROWN: Unsigned stainless-steel bead-blasted crown.

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