Tom Rice originally took part in Operation Overlord as part of the 101st Airborne troops dropped into Normandy, France on June 6th 1944. As he described his experience, he explained having lost his original A-11 during the jump from his C-47 SkyTrain. Praesidus Watch Co. was born 75 years later in 2019 with the A-11 Tom Rice - a re-edition of Tom Rice’s orignal A-11 Watch that was lost over the skies of Normandy. Nicknamed the “Lost Watch of D-Day” it has now become an icon for those wanting to commemorate D-Day & the courage of those that jumped on that night.
The Origin of Praesidus Watch Co.
Platoon Sergeant Tom Rice of the 101st Airborne Division took part in “Operation Albany” on June 6th 1944. He commanded a 12-paratrooper combat group into the chaos of Normandy as part of a support group equipped with mortars. Their aim was to secure access across the Cotentin Marshes and prevent German counter-attacks from reaching the main beach-heads. As his C-47 Skytrain approached the LZ (Landing Zone), German AA guns open fire and land a successful hit as Tom Rice was preparing his jump. In the chaos, he find himself dangling out of the C-47 and manages to disengage from the plane & open his chute. Landing safely, he goes on to regroup and successfully join the fight at “Hell’s Corner”. In the midst of this chaos, Rice comes out unscathed but, without his new A-11 watch. Hearing of this story in 2019, we set out to meet Tom Rice & re-create his “Lost Watch of D-Day”.
The A-11 Spec was originally released in 1942 by the US Army and set the standard for field watches up until today. The design specified for a black dial with white indexes to promote absolute legibility in all conditions. The US Army contracted three manufacturers: Elgin, Bulova & Waltham - however, from our work with Tom Rice, we identified that he originally wore the US Navy Spec: FSSC 88-W-800 built by Hamilton originally during his D-Day Jump. This spec had a single added requirement of a radium luminous dial for peak night-time legibility and featured a different dial design than “standard” A-11s. The A-11 Spec is a brilliant example of US ingenuity & industrial prowess with tens of thousand produced from 1942 to 1945.
A-11 Tom Rice Black Canvas
June 5th 1944 - Eisenhower visits the 101st before D-Day
A-11 Tom Rice White Leather
Planned vs actual LZs of the 101st & 82nd Airborne Troops for D-Day
A-11 Tom Rice Black Leather
The A-11 Tom Rice
Original A-11 Spec watches featured a soft shatter-proof Acrylic Crystal; mainly chosen for its affordability and simplicity of manufacture. For our A-11 Tom Rice, we’ve gone with the best the market has to offer: Sapphire. It provides the absolute best scratch- resistance and is known for its longevity. As part of our attempt to stay authentic, we went for a double dome crystal shape which raises the crystal from the case and reduces refraction.
The A-11 Tom Rice’s field watch origins are pretty obvious from the incredible legibility of the indexes & dial. With either White Indexes on a matte black dial or, the opposite time-telling is never an issue. For low-light conditions & in reference to Tom’s “Lumed” A-11 Spec, we’ve used superior luminous paint on the hour indexes.
The NH35 Automatic Movement is a typical “field watch” movement known for its rugged reliability throughout the years and limited service requirements. With a 41 hour power reserve, 21600 Beats per Hour (BPH) and, a “hacking” second hand, it’s a well born movement fit for the expectations of a field watch such as the Tom Rice.
By leaning on the original A-11 Spec design, the TomRice is “field tested” like no other. The proof is in the design & look of the watch. With a 5ATM water-resistance, the Tom Rice will hold up to light swimming and other “humid” outdoor environments.
The Tom Rice was designed directly with the hero himself in his home of Coronado, CA. It is the product of over a day of analysis presenting all the different variations of A-11 known to have been produced. In honor of Tom & all the men that took part in D-Day, we designed a commemoration case-back featuring a unique serial number.
As is standard for Praesidus - the A-11 Tom Rice is assembled & quality controlled in the USA at our workshop. Just like the original A-11 Spec watches were.
The 101ST Airborne
On June 6th 1944, the 101st Airborne AKA “Screaming Eagles” was tasked with Operation Albany part of the wider D-Day Operation (codename Overlord). Comprised of 6,928 paratroopers the 101st was tasked with disrupting German Defenses behind UTAH beach. They would then be used as a screening force to prevent German counter-offensives & reinforcements as the main landing forces worked to secure Normandy. Jumping from one of the hundreds of C-47 Skytrains was Tom Rice. We’ve re-created his A-11 watch in honor of the courage & sacrifice of the 101st as they jumped in the pitch black early morning of June 6th 1944.
Copyright © 2023 Praesidus.
All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2023 Praesidus.
All Rights Reserved