The Unusual Praesidus Rec-Spec

The Unusual Praesidus Rec-Spec

As someone who has gotten deep into the theme of military watches, today I’m excited to tell you about a recent release from Praesidus: the Rec-Spec. Not only does this watch look unusual for a military watch, but it also comes with a pretty neat story which we’re going to get into below. What’s perhaps the most fascinating here—at least it is for me—is the fact that the Rec-Spec does not look like your typical military watch. Instead, it looks like an everyday timepiece that many people in the 1960s would have worn in a specific part of the world: Asia, and more particularly, Vietnam. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the Praesidus Rec-Spec, its history, who it was used by, and what it looks like today. 

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The Rec-Spec and the MACV-SOG

“Rec-Spec'' stands for “Reconnaissance Specification” and it refers to a model that was used by members of the MACV-SOG. The latter stands for “Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group'' which was, as Wikipedia best explains it: “a highly classified, multi-service United States special operations unit which conducted covert unconventional warfare operations before and during the Vietnam War.” In other words, a very undercover group of highly specialized operators. MACV-SOG was active between 1964 and 1972. So, what’s the connection between them and the watch? Well, in order to remain covert and to blend in, members of the MACV-SOG opted for Seiko’s readily available in Vietnam to conduct their operations instead of US-military issued timepieces which would have more easily indicated that they were not from “around here.” 

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Members of MACV-SOG  needed precise and practical watches which were imperative for the successful running of their covert operations. As this excellent article explains, MACV-SOG operators needed watches that were easy to read day and night and which made it easy to keep track of the day and date of the week. However, the use of these watches was so rare outside of Asia in the 1960s/70s that you most likely have never heard of them. At least, I never did and keep in mind that I’m a die-hard military and tool-watch aficionado. So it was a treat to see that Praesidus, a brand that specializes in re-issuing vintage military models, came up with a modern version—three to be specific. 

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The Modern Praesidus Rec-Spec

From a visual standpoint, and as you can see from the images above, the modern Praesidus Rec-Spec looks very similar to the ones from the 1960s/70s. In other words: a full stack of lumed Arabic numerals, baton hands which were also lumed, a clean dial with a sun-burst effect, and a day/date complication at 3 o’clock. Members of the MACV-SOG used to wear their watches on either a tropic or canvas strap, and the modern Praesidus is offered either on a tropic, a canvas, or a leather strap. Since the vintage ones were made by Seiko and powered by Seiko calibers, Praesidus logically opted for a Seiko movement in the robust and precise NH36 caliber which beats at 21,600 BPH (3Hz) and has 41 hours of power reserve.

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Size wise, Praesidus made their version 2mm larger than the original, coming in with a diameter of 38mm, a lug-to-lug of 45mm, a thickness of 11.8mm, and a lug width of 20mm. In my opinion, the Goldie Locks dimensions for a modern tool watch. Like the original, the dial of the Rec-Spec comes with a sun-burst finish—with the option of a brown matte dial—and is topped by a piece of domed K1 mineral crystal. The 3D lumed Arabic numerals come in either a white or green/blue color, the latter being more faithful to the original. Lastly, the Praesidus Rec-Spec retails for around $250 and will be back in stock early 2024. 

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Final Thoughts 

And here I was thinking that we’ve seen it all when it comes to reissues of vintage military watches. But learning about the Praesidus Rec-Spec shows that there is much more to learn about this area of the watch industry. After all, I don’t know what I don’t know! Maybe tomorrow I will learn that Rolex created rare Daytona’s for covert Swiss operators during a secret war no one has documented—yet. As always, what pushes me to write about military tool watches is the fact that they were, well, tools. Those who used them needed them to successfully conduct their operations and today, members of the militaries from around the world still rely on good watches to carry on their tasks. It just fascinates me! 

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