A pair of rare and historically important stainless steel military wristwatches, from the family of the original owner and with provenance letter

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  • Manufacturer: Benrus
    Year: The first: 1968 The second: Circa 1965
    Reference No: The first, DTU-2A/P MIL-W-38188
    The second, 6088

    Case No: The first: 006’481, additionally stamped with military markings FED. STOCK NO. 6645-066-4279, MFG. PART NO. XZ 73065, CONT. GS-06S-1147
    The second, N/A

    Model Name: The first, N/A
    The second, Ultra-Deep

    Material: Both: stainless steel
    Calibre: The first: Manual, cal. DR2F2, 17 jewels
    The second: Automatic, cal. 2451, 17 jewels

    Bracelet/Strap: Both: Nylon NATO
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel
    Dimensions: The first: 35mm Diameter
    The second: 38mm Diameter

    Signed: The first: Case, crown, and movement signed, dial anonymous.
    The second: Case, dial, and movement signed.

    Accessories: Accompanied by provenance letter written by the daughter of the original owner.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Founded in 1921 by three brothers, Oscar, Benjamin, and Ralph Lazrus, the Benrus Watch Company aimed to provide affordable American-made wristwatches with reliable Swiss movements. Benrus would continue to produce watches under contract with the U.S. Armed Forces into the 1970s.

    Under mil spec guidelines, Benrus first produced the DTU- 2A/P with a parkerized (dulled) steel case, matte black dial with luminous indexes depicting military time in the 1960s. The Ultra-Deep, on the other hand, is clearly a predecessor of the Type I and Type II, with its parkerized monocoque case, rotating bezel, and luminous dial.

    The present pair of watches have established CIA provenance, as they are consigned by the daughter of United States Air Force Senior Master Sergeant James J. Stanford, who wore both watches during his tours in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s. According to his Wikipedia page, Stanford was assigned to the Kingdom of Laos in early 1966 to advise General Vang Pao on air operations for the Laotian Civil War.

    In the accompanying signed provenance letter, his daughter writes, “These were very special to him, issued by the CIA while working on what is known now (according to the CIA website) as the largest paramilitary operation ever undertaken by the CIA and took place in the Kingdom of Laos in the 1960s and 1970s for 13 years.” She continues, “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.” Stanford few 218 combat missions in Laos and Vietnam with these watches strapped to his wrist, using them to time the period between bombings. This year, Stanford will be inducted to the CIA Hall of Fame for his outstanding service and achievements

    These watches, fitted on their original NATO straps, have long been suspected of being used by the CIA for covert purposes, but these are perhaps the first-known public appearance of timepieces that are confirmed to have been worn by a CIA agent during active duty in Vietnam.

51

Benrus

Ref. The first, DTU-2A/P MIL-W-38188 The second, 6088
A pair of rare and historically important stainless steel military wristwatches, from the family of the original owner and with provenance letter

The first: 1968 The second: Circa 1965
The first: 35mm Diameter
The second: 38mm Diameter

The first: Case, crown, and movement signed, dial anonymous.
The second: Case, dial, and movement signed.

Estimate
$2,000 - 4,000 
CHF2,000-4,000
€1,800-3,600
HK$15,600-31,300

sold for $30,000

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas & International Strategy Advisor
Senior Vice President
+1 212 940 1293
pboutros@phillips.com

GAME CHANGERS

New York Auction 10 December 2019