These watches have actual pieces of D-Day history in them

Miguel Ortiz Avatar
(U.S. Air Force)

June 6, 1944 is one of the most significant dates in modern history. Whether it’s referred to as Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy or simply D-Day, the landing of Allied troops on the European continent began the liberation of France and paved the way for an Allied victory in Europe during WWII. Depicted in media like Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, Medal of Honor, and Call of Duty, the real-life heroism of Allied troops hitting the beaches and dropping from the skies on D-Day is forever ingrained in the world’s memory. While it normally takes a trip to France or a museum to experience the history of the day, Praesidus Watches is bringing a bit of D-Day history to your wrist.

On the 78th anniversary of D-Day, in 2022, Praesidus released the A-11 “Marston Mat” watch. Based on the standard-issue A-11 watch used by the U.S. Army Air Forces, British Royal Air Force, Canadian Royal Air Force and Soviet Air Force during WWII, this commemorative watch featured a dial made from a Marston Mat used to build a temporary road near Utah Beach in Normandy, France. For the 80th anniversary of the landings, Praesidus went a step further to represent both the troops who hit the beaches, jumped from the sky, and the men who flew them across the channel.

The Sand Dial watch features real sand from Utah Beach in Normandy, France (Praesidus)

In collaboration with the Utah Beach Landing Museum, Praesidus is releasing the Type 44 Sand Dial for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Based on the 1944 A-11 watch from their archives, this commemorative piece features real sand from Utah Beach in its dial. Because the Normandy beaches are culturally protected areas, Praesidus required special permits to extract this sand for their watches. The sandwich dial, which has cutout numerals to show the sand beneath it, includes a landing map of the different Normandy beaches where Allied troops landed on D-Day. On the back of the polished stainless steel 38mm base is an engraved caseback commemorating the 80th anniversary and the limited run of these watches. The Sand Dial is available with a matte green, black, or blue dial and a green NATO strap, or black or blue tropical strap. Each variant will sell for $495 and is limited to 500 pieces.

To honor the airmen and paratroopers who invaded Normandy by air, Praesidus acquired two hamburger doors which came off of two C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft that flew on D-Day. On June 5, 1944, airmen opened these doors and climbed aboard their planes to drop paratroopers into France and liberate the country from the Nazis. Using their experience building the Marston Mat watches, Praesidus cut these aluminum doors into watch dials to make A-11 C-47 D-Day watches.

The C-47 watch is available in two main variants: “heavy wear & tear” and “light wear & tear.” To preserve the history of the doors, Praesidus has minimally processed the metal and sorted them into these two categories. This allows buyers to choose how much scratching and marking they want on their dial. The dials can also be had with olive green paint to match the original C-47 color. This paint is thinly applied so that the genuine wear and tear, be it light or heavy, is still on display.

Continuing with the D-Day theme, the C-47 Watch can be had on a leather strap or an “Invasion” NATO strap. The latter nylon strap matches the black and white stripes painted on Allied aircraft for the Normandy invasion. With all of this, the watch retains the DNA of the A-11 issued watch. It features a 38mm stainless steel, sandblast-finish case, a simple three-hand layout without a date window, Arabic numerals from 1-12, and a 60-minute track along the outside of the dial.

With an automatic Miyota movement, screw-down crown providing 10 ATM of water resistance, and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, the C-47 A-11 watch is ready for collector display or daily wear. The caseback is marked for the 80th anniversary of D-Day and each model is limited to 500 numbered pieces. These limited-run pieces will, of course, release on June 6, 2024 for $550. Additionally, the Sand Dial and C-47 watches can be purchased as an 80th anniversary set with a special collector’s edition box for $1,000. Interested buyers can sign up on the Praesidus website to be alerted when sales go live.