Benrus – Iconic Watchmaker of Midcentury America

Benrus pic


The owner of MZ Berger & Co., Bernie Mermelstein guides a respected timepiece and accessory manufacturer headquartered in New York, with 700 employees worldwide. A former U.S. Watch Council member, Bernie Mermelstein maintains an extensive collection of American-made watches, from Gruen to Benrus.

Established as a watch-repair business in the 1920s by three brothers who emigrated to New York from Romania, the Benrus Watch Company quickly established a reputation for top-tier timepieces. The company set up an assembly space on 44th Street in the Hippodrome building and coordinated manufacture of most moving parts in Switzerland.

Benrus experienced major growth during World War II, when it began producing watches for servicemen. Following the war, the company moved into designing unique pieces with exaggerated lugs and bezels, including the iconic Dial-o-Rama and the one-piece Embraceable, which slipped on like a bracelet. These highly collectible watches came to define what is now known as the Retro-Modern period of timepiece design.