Praesidus Watches is a small niche watchmaker that is a really interesting fusion of the art of watchmaking and historical timepieces. Their first product was a historic recreation of the A-11 movement watch ordered in the hundreds of thousands to put on the wrists of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines of the US armed forces during WWII. When you watch documentaries of US forces in that conflict using original footage you are almost certain to see someone wearing a US issue A-11 on their wrist.
The original watches were made as inexpensively as possible while trying to retain the essential qualities of combat watches in those days. It could only lose 30 seconds a month and it had to be a synchronous movement. This meant that when the crown was pulled out to stop the watch it also stopped the second hand so that everyone could sync or “hack” their watches to the exact same time, or as close to the exact same time as possible. Back then, ships, airbases, and army units in the field would all have a single large chronometer in a wooden box that was carefully protected and wound daily to assure the proper time was kept according to Greenwich Mean Time or GMT. You couldn’t have an infantry division and an artillery regiment on time that differed by a single minute when you were talking about timed barrages and infantry assaults. In the difference of that single minute, a lot of lives could be lost.
As the war went on, the A-11 was improved several times according to the wishes expressed by the servicemen wearing them in the field. The face was changed from white to black to improve the contrast between the face and letters and reduce its visibility of the face in the light or dark. Non-reflective coatings were applied to the glass face for the same reason. The navy wanted a luminous dial along with a dust and waterproof case. and the companies making these watches kept pace.
This watch was at Midway, Bastogne, the Battle of the Atlantic and of course at the biggest show of all, the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
This brings us to the latest version of the A-11 made by Prasidus, the A=11 Marsdon Matt Edition.
The people at Praesidus worked with preservationists and historians and were able to obtain an artifact of the Normandy invasion, a piece of Marsdon matting used during the landings.
For those who do not know, Mardon Matting was one of those technological marvels of WWII. It was an interlocking system of steel grates that were used to create temporary roads, taxiways and even entire airfields. It allowed the Navy and army to get set up for operations on the ground and in the air very quickly. In this photo below of the Normandy landings, you can see the lines made by the Marsdon matting under the wheels of this heavily laden deuce-and-a-half truck unloading off an LST. Thousands of these metal panels were laid by navy SEA-Bees to create roads off the beach for tanks, trucks, and towed artillery that needed to get off the beach and move inland to expand the beachhead. The sand at Normandy was pretty loosely packed and plenty of pictures from that day show trucks and vehicles mired in the sand until the matting could be laid down.
So, the people at Praesidus were able to obtain a piece of Marsden matting found buried in the sand at Normandy. They then sanded, polished and flattened it to make the faces of their new A-11 Marsden Mat Edition.
Some of the features of the watch go well beyond the original spec of the WWII watch.
The glass is Double Domed Sapphire with an Anti-Reflective Coating
The movement is a Swiss-Made P024 Automatic.
The case is 38mm stainless steel, water-resistant to 10 atmospheres. or 300 ft.
And a super luminous dial.
We are told that only about 150 of these can be made because of the limited material of the Marsden mat panel and that pre-orders have sold about 70 of them. If this watch is of any interest to you, go to the link below and sign up for a pre-order on this time-telling relic of D-Day.
Delivery will be in October, in time for Christmas. We are also told the pre-orders will receive a second canvas strap to accompany the standard leather type. I own a previous version of an A-11 and the band has a quick release that makes switching them out a snap.
Don’t wait, go now and place your order if you want one.
Praesidus Marsden Mat A-11 Watch.