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Praesidus Dirty Dozen-45

A Modernized, Iconic Design 

It has been a little over seven decades since the British Ministry of Defense created the mil-spec for their new field watch, now known as the Dirty Dozen. Since then, the design of military-issued watches has evolved without ever really veering too much of course from the original: full set of Arabic numerals for the hour markers and large, legible hands set against matte dials. But the trend of the past five years or so has been to bring back the look of the original Dirty Dozen and to adapt it to the tastes and preferences of modern watch collectors. That is, to refresh it (in horological terms, what would be the equivalent of giving it a facelift) and to, more often than not, put it inside larger cases. (The Dirty Dozens from 1945 generally measured between 33 and 35mm in diameter.) 

Enter Praesidus—a brand I’m a big fan of—and the Dirty Dozen-45 or “DD-45” for short. What the brand managed to accomplish here is to modernize the Dirty Dozen design whilst bringing it up to par with modern technology and expectations. A modern Swiss made caliber, domed sapphire crystal, screw-down crown, and three versions of the dial from classic to Tropical (the latter emulating the idea that the watch was not box-fresh but World War—II rucksack old.) The one I had in for review is the latter version which is a good thing as it forced me to get out of my comfort zone. I mean, a tiny bit. It’s brown, the dial looks like milk chocolate, and it comes with accents of lighter brown. Who wouldn’t love this? 


First and foremost, the DD-45 is a robust and well-finished piece of horology that comes with the perfect dimensions for modern wrists: 38mm in diameter, 45mm lug-to-lug, 11.8mm thick, and 20mm in lug width. While yours truly would have preferred a period-correct sizing, I’m happy with the way the DD-45 fits on my 6.50”/16.5cm thanks to its very cool case profile. (More on that in a little bit.) Within the compact case, we get 100 meters of water resistance thanks to a screw-down crown and case-back, hips of SuperLuminova, a domed sapphire crystal (for that vintage flare,) as well as a perfectly printed dial and impeccably finished hands. (I always believed that Praesidus makes great watches but the DD-45 is yet another animal in terms of fit and finish.) 

As any proper—according to yours truly still—tool watch should have, the DD-45 comes with a closed case-back which lists the basic specs. It’s designed in the same way as it was on the original Dirty Dozen which is something I adore. (Who needs a long spec sheet printed in a circle on the edges of a case-back? No one does.) Moreover, the movement which beats within is a Swiss-made Landeron L24 caliber which ticks at 28,800 BPH (4 Hz) and comes with 40 hours of power reserve. As far as I know, this is a good movement even though ownership of the movement manufacturer has changed hands in the recent past. The blend of lume is unspecified but it looks like C3 SuperLuminova or something of the sort. 

Lastly, each version of the DD45—the Factory Fresh black and white variant as well as the Patina version (where the lume and hands are aged) and this Tropical version—can be had either on a Bonklip bracelet, a brown leather strap, or a green perlon. (The review model I got my hands on came with a light brown Suede strap that also looks quite good.) 


From a design standpoint, I would first like to highlight the case profile which is quite exceptional here. Seen from the side, the case has a rather flat and elongated design (something that is pretty neat given the short L2L,) where the mid-case, complete with its delicate horizontal brushing, appears small yet majestic. I mean look at the lugs that turn down like claws and which angles are highlighted by beautifully polished chamfers. The combination of the lugs and the thin mid-case really makes the watch appear (and sit) flat on the wrist. And I would add that the case has a particularly elegant profile. Something that is not always a given for vintage-inspired military watches. 

The bottom part of the case is angled inward towards the case-back, where we can see that the latter is properly screwed in. The profile found on the side and bottom of the case is repeated on its upper sections where the polished fixed bezel—complimented by the gentle slope of the domed sapphire crystal—creates an almost perfect rounded profile. The decently-sized unsigned crown (oh my, what an horror!) fits perfectly within the case as it sits perfectly within the area delineated by the bottom of the fixed bezel and the top of the case-back. These are all of the tiny details that only make sense in the metal and which you should know about because that’s where your money is going. 

The dial for its part is legible and clean. The brushed and lumed hour and minute hands are easy to see set against the matte brown dial, and the tiny seconds hand located in the small register at the six is also lumed—a neat detail which again explains where your money has been invested. (More on this later.) The small and modern looking Arabic numerals for the hour markers are of the right size, as in they are legible and not overwhelming, and on each version they are color-matched to the lume. Or, I should say that the lume is colored in a way that it matches the dial. (I’m not a watch designer so please bear with me here.)

In other words, I like how Praesidus laid out the dial: it's not as blocky as that found on the original Dirty Dozen, and it doesn’t look too vintage either. The DD-45 looks resolutely modern and this effect couldn’t have been easy to create. 

The Heart of the Matter

There are actually two hearts to the matter here. First, that Praesidus did create its own version of the iconic Dirty Dozen, something that perhaps we could have all seen coming given the brand’s track-record of re-creating many historical military watches. It’s as if the brand gave itself time to find the right recipe to make it its own, after that many other brands took their own stab at it. This version does look modern yet it pays homage to the unique design traits that made the original so ionic. And imitated so many times. I’m in the camp of watch enthusiasts who believe it’s perfectly fine to reissue an old design, especially when it’s as well made as it is here. 

The other fact to the matter is the price, why, and what you get for it. On the perlon and leather straps, the DD-45 will set you back $875 USD. On the Bonklip bracelet, you will have to remove $925 USD from your bank account. So this is not a small amount but any meaning of the terms, however I believe there is a good reason for it. Not only do you get a Swiss-made caliber, a beautifully domed sapphire crystal and generous applications of lume which could make any Seiko diver self-conscious. But you also get a wonderfully manufactured and finished case. The polished finishes have a mirror-like aspect to them, and the brushing is very fine. Moreover, the printing on the dial is crisp and clean. 

In other words, you do have to pay more for Praesidus’ version of the Dirty Dozen compared to what is offered by other brands, but you are assured to get a quality product.  


As it might have come across, there is no shortage of recreations of the Dirty Dozen. Some are surprisingly cheap while others orbit more on the higher end of things. In this aspect, you can either go with a low quality re-interpretation or a 1:1 copy of the original which Timor makes. Or you can opt for something even more different: a modern take on the original design where Praesidus clearly left its creative imprint and now rock-solid quality of manufacturing. (This is the fourth model of the brand I get my hands on and I cannot cease to be positively surprised.) 

But that’s just my opinion. I suggest learning more about the DD-45 by visiting the brand’s website and taking a closer look at the photos below. 

Thanks for reading. 


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