Search

EXECUTIVE ESCAPEMENT

Updated: Sep 1


This week, we look at the timepieces that have adorned the wrists of some of America's most important leaders. While this is not an entire or chronological list, we wanted to highlight a few of the timepieces worn by presidents past and present, as well as several clocks that were not made by the five-pointed crown.


Let's start with the Rolex talking points. Even those with little knowledge of horology recognize a Rolex when it comes to watches in general. That's a terrific position to be in for many reasons, not the least of which is that having a brand as well-known as Kleenex makes marketing easier. Those of you familiar with Rolex will know that it wasn't always this way, but due to the way the business evolved, they found themselves in a unique position among the offerings. Once the dust settled from the quartz issue, they appeared to be at the top of the food chain for mass-produced luxury timepieces. Even before the crisis, they were a well-respected corporation that produced items worn by America's presidents, and we'll go over that briefly.

FDR

Yes, we are aware of these problems, and their nuances are disputed (and frequently contested over) across the internet's repository of horological history and individuals interested in the subject. What else have the world's leaders worn except solid gold Datejusts and Day-Dates?


Movado used to have the same "gravity" that Rolex has today. Presidents, socialites, and celebrities formerly wore the same brand that you can acquire for $150 or less at your local mall budget jeweler. Why did Rolex select this model over others at the time? The simple reason is that the Rolex name did not carry the same weight. Sure, they were still well-made timepieces that could endure anything life threw at them, but Movado's design elements and aesthetics appealed to a broader audience at the time. People may look back on bygone eras of watch styling with differing degrees of "wtf," just as we may look back on 1970s wallpaper and wood paneling with variable degrees of "wtf." Others, with a collector's eye, see these great works of art in a different light.

FDR's Tiffany-Branded Movado Calendar, The CT60

Movado used to have the same "gravity" that Rolex has today. Presidents, socialites, and celebrities formerly wore the same brand that you can acquire for $150 or less at your local mall budget jeweler. Why did Rolex select this model over others at the time? The simple reason is that the Rolex name did not carry the same weight. Sure, they were still well-made timepieces that could endure anything life threw at them, but Movado's design elements and aesthetics appealed to a broader audience at the time. People may look back on bygone eras of watch styling with differing degrees of "wtf," just as we may look back on 1970s wallpaper and wood paneling with variable degrees of "wtf." Others, with a collector's eye, see these great works of art in a different light.


The watch worn by Franklin Delano Roosevelt is a noteworthy Movado. The four-term President, who oversaw much of the United States' involvement in World War II, wore a Tiffany-dialed Movado calendar. Of course, it was gold, but it also included all of the information he needed to go through his day at a glance. It was reported that he wore it at the Yalta conference and till the end of his life, as seen here. Even now, it would draw attention as a handsome looker. If you seek hard enough, similar models aren't cheap, but a quick search on eBay yields many variations from this era. It's good enough for a president, and it'll be enough for everyone in the hobby in 2021. While it may not achieve as much as the entry-level Apple Watch, it does show style and elegance from a bygone era, which is unlikely to be true of future Apple Watches.

JFK and his Omega

What about Dwight Eisenhower's Datejust, which he received after the war? Of course, that's a one-of-a-kind timepiece, and we'll get to the Rolex on the current President's wrist later. But, once again, we see that these leaders have chosen other brands while also controlling the planet's fate. John F. Kennedy is well-known for his Omega Ultra-Thin watch, which was a gift from a friend. He wore this watch instead of the solid gold Rolex by Marilyn Monroe and was believed to have urged an aide to "get rid of it" after receiving it. It is also thought that the aide kept it for himself. I'm confident that if given a chance, I would have taken the same path. While there are other reasons for this obvious choice of Omega over Rolex (sorry, Jacquie, we know it must have been difficult to keep your grin through it all), it nonetheless graced the wrist of this well-liked President until his assassination.


Vulcain Cricket

JFK's successor, Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ), was famed for his solid gold Rolex, but he was also a major fan of the Vulcain Cricket. This watch may be seen on his wrist on occasion, as a portable alarm in an era when everyone's iPhones and Apple Watches woke us up to the same old sounds. The Cricket was a popular watch at the time, and there are several specimens still in existence today. Of course, the older ones have more personality, but you might be able to get one of the newer ones if you want one. These are intriguing possibilities in a world of collecting that overlooks several watches in the same category as the Vulcain. When a celebrity wears a watch, it earns an instant star, driving demand in ways the original manufacturer could never have predicted. We see many timepieces in movies, on TV, and on the wrists of our favorite celebrities, which creates the same demand as Vulcain did a few years ago.

President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore

As previously stated, I'm not proceeding in chronological sequence, so I'll go ahead to a watch that appears to be more in line with the ordinary person. President Clinton famously wore an automated Timex Ironman watch to connect with voters who might not be in his tax bracket. Those who remember seeing these timepieces on the wrist of a president feel a sense of nostalgia. Of course, owning one in the 1990s appeared to be the next step in "technology" after the Seiko James Bond era of the 1970s. After all, digital watches were all the rage since they could do so much with such accuracy. Despite the lack of a genuine escape, Bill's political approach worked, and he jumped straight into the Monica controversy, his faithful Timex taking a licking and continuing to tick. He did wear one throughout his presidency.


44th US President Barack Obama and his Jorg Gray

In keeping with this more "cheap" style, Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, wore a Jorg Gray suit. This was presented to him by his Secret Service team and accompanied him throughout his presidency. While it was not the most expensive piece Mr. Obama could afford, he preserved it for sentimental reasons, and it remains quite appealing. Because it was a president's wristwatch, these pieces were in high demand throughout the Obama administration for the same reason that people rush out to buy the new Seamaster featured in the next Bond film: they want to feel like the big guy. However, unlike the new all-titanium watch that will be issued to James in the upcoming movie, the Jorg Gray will not set you back nearly $10,000. If you want to stand out in the boardroom, you can get your presidential timepiece for a lot less. Who knows, maybe the next time you're presenting a proposal or going over the findings in your most recent large report, you'll feel more confident.


Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States, VC Ultra Fine 1968

If you're familiar with American politics, you've probably noticed that every presidential watch I've featured so far has belonged to a Democratic president. Don't worry; I've included a wristwatch from everyone's favorite Republican President. Donald Trump is well-known for his opulent and flamboyant lifestyle. Everyone agrees that he has the most eloquent words. When he was elected, he possessed the highest net worth of anyone ever elected to the post. The person in line behind him may surprise you. The next richest President was George Washington, who had $575 million in 2021 currency. Mr. Trump, like many of his predecessors, enjoys gold watches, and he's wearing a Vacheron Constantin Ultra Fine 1968 here. If you're shopping for a presidential look, these aren't cheap. He's been photographed wearing several timepieces, including a Rolex (eye-roll), a Patek Philippe, and this jewel, the Vacheron Constantin. Regardless of your political beliefs, this is a terrific watch to wear in the workplace, at the country club, or either of your impeachment hearings, if you find yourself in such a situation.

Joe Biden, the incumbent President of the United States, with his Seamaster Professional

Following all of this, we arrive at the current President of the United States. Joe Biden has been photographed sporting various timepieces during his brief presidency and preceding term as Vice President. While he's been seen wearing a Rolex Datejust with a blue dial, I'd like to draw attention to the Omega Seamaster he's been seen wearing on multiple occasions. Perhaps this is because the OMEGA Seamaster Community was my first large group to manage. Maybe it has anything to do with the James Bond connection I tried to downplay previously. Who knows for sure? Aside from the Speedmaster collection (which he has also been photographed wearing), they are about as classic as Omega gets. The blue is versatile and has an athletic attitude that you won't find in a stuffier dress watch or the worn-out formality of a Rolex. While prices have grown in recent years due to Omega's efforts to connect its brand with Rolex, if you shop around and wait, you can still buy one for a fair price. While Joe Biden isn't trying to emulate James Bond in any of his current endeavors, he might dress up his Seamaster for cabinet meetings, press conferences, and trips with other foreign leaders.


While Rolex will always be a key participant in presidential politics, it is not the only one. Many superb timepieces have been adorning the wrists of persons elected to the highest position in the United States. While you may disagree with their policies or how they behave in public, several of these leaders show good taste in the watches they wear while in office.

17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All