Watches are just watches without stories. Without the human element that few technical pursuits like watchmaking are able to capture in the same way, those wheels and pinions rotating on your wrist are nothing more than components in a machine that has no soul. But watches do have a soul. They have a beating heart. They tick away the seconds of our lives as they sit, seemingly in silence upon our wrists, but bearing witness to every passing second.
Oftentimes, watches — the physical embodiment of time itself — become so treasured by their wearers because they accompany them through emotionally intense moments in their lives. Every so often, a watch can actually play a direct part in those moments. Perhaps it is given as a gift. Maybe it is inherited from a close relative. Possibly its functions will be applied to a life and death situation and facilitate the continuation of the former. In those instances, it is, of course, no surprise that those stories will continue to be told by those involved and those associated with those involved exactly as they should be.
At its core, Praesidus is about people. The people that inspired the brand into existence and the resulting products that inspire the ever-growing Praesidus family. One man who embodies the true spirit of Praesidus is Private Vince “Curse and Traverse” Speranza.
During the Battle of Bulge, Vince served as a machine gunner with Company H, 3rd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.
A veteran of the Second World War, Vince was involved in the successful rebuttal of the German forces’ final major offensive on the Western Front, which occurred in the Ardennes region of Belgium, northeast France, and Luxembourg.
The clash commenced on December 16, 1944, and lasted over a month. Finally, on January 25th the following year, the fighting ended, with Vince and his comrades having kept the Axis at bay.
"We disrupted the Germans' plan. They were going to go cut across and capture Antwerp and tried to divide the American Army. But we changed the war. We stopped them at Bastogne, and they never made it. During Bastogne, things were bad. And we were running out of food and artillery. The Germans came in with their flags and told us we were surrounded. They wanted the Americans to surrender. They thought that maybe we would surrender. The answer our commander, General Anthony McAuliffe, gave them was ʻNuts.’ He was our commander in the Battle of the Bulge.”
In total, Vince contributed 144 days of combat service during the war, earning many medals and accolades for his efforts. The two-time recipient of the prestigious Purple Heart award (bestowed upon individuals that show incredible bravery, often at the risk of their own lives), he also received two bronze stars, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachutist Badge, an Army Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 2 campaign stars, a World War II Victory Medal, the French Croix de Guerre, the Legion of Honour, the Presidential Unit Citation with Oak leaf cluster, an Honorary medal in bronze, gemeente (Municipality of) Nuenen, Gerwen en Nederwetten, and the Fourragère (a braided cord that represents a military unit as a whole).
Following the conclusion of WWII, Vince returned to America. Marrying in 1948, he became a teacher at Curtis High School, earning wider recognition with his book, “Nuts! A 101st Airborne Division Machine Gunner at Bastogne,” which dealt with the realities of war and all that he had seen.
Father of three, grandfather of nine, and great-grandfather of five, Vince Speranza lives by his words, “Fai sempre cose biome,” which means, “Always do good things.” This remarkable man and his remarkable story of belief in the face of overwhelming odds make him a perfect ambassador for the Praesidus A-11.
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