Benrus Gives The DTU Field Watch A New Lease On Life

Military spec watches are having quite the moment of late, propelled by the recently released Marine Nationale watches (from both Yema and Tudor), and of course, the return of the Benrus Type 1 (which we reviewed at length here). When it comes to Benrus, it’s kind of their thing. Their latest release revisits another issued classic from 1964, the ‘DTU’ field watch in the new DTU-2A/P. Like the Type 1, this DTU stays (pretty much) true to the original, even going so far as to pass on the faux aging to keep it as close as possible to the intent of the watch.

The original DTU from 1964 featured a hand winding ETA 2372 base caliber within a slight 34mm case. It is here that the remaster deviates from the original, growing to 39.5mm and swapping over to an automatic Sellita SW200 movement. These are two considerable departures from the rather charming early references, but thankfully the overall look and feel of the watch has otherwise been preserved. Let’s call it a modern rendition of the DTU, as it would have been made were it commissioned today. 

So the new DTU-2A/P has grown a bit, both in diameter and thickness, but at under 40mm it’s still perfectly manageable and inline with similar offerings from the likes of Hamilton. The move to an automatic movement is certainly welcome for convenience’s sake, but it does contribute to the 13mm thickness, which is a lot for a time-only affair such as this. A big chunk of that can be attributed to the highly domed acrylic crystal, however. Given the other modern updates it’s odd to not see a sapphire unit here, but likely keeps the price at a pleasant $595.

The steel case gets a bead blasted finish for a uniform appearance throughout, and there’s a taper at the case’s edge giving a much thinner appearance on the wrist than the calipers would have you believe. The caseback gets the same markings you’d have found on an issued piece back in the ‘60s to keep the mil-spec vibe in full effect. 

The classic field watch dial is the real draw here, and feels true to the original with each detail. The shark-tooth shaped lume plots mark each hour with minute hashes filling the spaces in between. Arabic numerals appear at every hour, with the corresponding 24 hour scale running the inside track. It’s a lot of information to process at a glance, but once you’re accustomed to it, makes for a nice level of precision.

My biggest complaint here is the length and shape of the hour hand, which mimics the minute hand so well that the two can be difficult to tell apart. The syringe tips of each hand extend over the numbers and further muddies a quick read on the time as well. That said, it was the same story on the original, so bonus points for accuracy there. Given the dramatic case and movement changes, though, a slightly shorter hour hand would have been the most welcome change. 

Overall this is a very satisfying field watch from a brand that’s got some pedigree in the space. Sizing to 36mm instead of 39.5mm and a hand wound movement instead of the automatic would have kept much more of the original charm and still been just as appealing to modern buyers, if you ask me, but as is this is a well priced, broadly acceptable approach to the field watch. Benrus.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.