As one of the most powerful people in the world, every move a president or political leader of a country makes is seriously thought out to represent a certain message to the millions of people who are going to see and hear about it. For watch aficionados, a fun point to consider is the timepieces which world leaders wear. Historically, there have been a few politicians who stand out in terms of the timepieces they choose to wear as commander-in-chief. Our expert team at LSM Watch has put together a list of politicians who have made powerful statements through the timepieces they wear. While you certainly might be able to guess a few of them (obvious giveaway: JFK), some will certainly surprise you!
John F. Kennedy
As the iconic head-of-state known for his charismatic aura and captivating appearance, John F. Kennedy was a sure shot for our list. During his presidential inauguration in 1961, Kennedy wore a Omega Ultra Thin which was given to him by Florida senator and close friend Grand Stockdale. It featured a custom engraving on the case-back which read “President of the United States John F. Kennedy from his friend Grant.” Considering the historical significance of the piece, the Omega Museum in Switzerland bought the timepiece at an auction in 2005 for $420,000. In addition to a politician, Kennedy was also a romantic. For their fourth anniversary, Jackie Kennedy gifted her husband the classic Cartier Tank which there numerous photographs of him wearing. Contrarily, in the midst of his widely speculated secret relationship, Marilyn Monroe is believed to have bought Kennedy a gold Rolex as a gift with an engraved caseback that read “Jack, With love as always, from Marilyn, May 29th 1962.” This is a watch he is believed to have given to an aide to get rid of immediately. With a collection of watches that were closely intertwined to his political and love life, the legend of John F. Kennedy continues to grow long after his assassination.
Barack Obama has been one of the most influential people in the world in his tenure as the 44th President of the United States. Despite his immense power, his constituents are able to connect with him because of his personable attitude. His watch collection is similar to his attitude, classic and modest, though it does have an interesting story tied to it. Before becoming president, Obama wore an understated TAG Heuer Series 1500 Two-Tone Diver. However, for his 47th birthday in 2007, his Secret Service team gifted him a watch he was very fond of, a Jorg Gray JG 6500 Chronograph with the Secret Service emblem on the dial which the team wore. The watch was purchased from the Secret Service employee store at the headquarters in Washington, DC. Considering the $300 dollar price-tag, the Jorg Gray is not a luxury watch by any means, but instead an affordable, but quality daily-use wristwatch in true Obama fashion.
Considered Obama’s superpower nemesis, Vladimir Putin could not be any more different than Barack Obama in political style, personality, and yes, in regards to their watch collections. While Obama keeps it simple and modest, Vladimir Putin is known to boast an impressive collection of lavish luxury timepieces which have an estimated total value of more than $700,000! The most expensive watch in his collection is a platinum-wrapped A Lange & Sohne Tourbograph which has a price tag of a half million dollars. Putin is also a Patek Philippe collector, with several photographs showing him wearing a Patek Philippe Perpetual Calendar as well as a Patek Philippe Calatrava. The Russian commander-in-chief rounds of his collection with luxury timepieces from Blancpain and Bregeut. Putin has come under fire from Russian opposition group Solidarity who accuse him of running a corrupt government to gain these lavish watches which make up his world-class watch collection.
Lyndon B. Johnson
One can argue that JFK successor Lyndon B. Johnson had the most genuine presidential watch collection, with timepieces that were closely connected to his role as president. While the first Rolex “President” was a Dayjust with a Jubilee bracelet which was given to Dwight D. Eisenhower by Rolex for his pivotal role as NATO Commander, it wasn’t until Lyndon B. Johnson began wearing his Rolex DayDate with the signature Jubilee bracelet that the watch began being called the Rolex President. Today, the Rolex DayDate President is one of the most special Rolex watches available, beloved by the biggest Rolex collectors. In addition to his Rolex President, LBJ also owned a Vulcain Cricket Alarm watch, another timepiece which has been historically worn by presidents since Harry Truman in 1953. The Cricket Alarm by Vulcain was one of the first watches available to feature a worthwhile alarm complication, a function very important for the busy schedule of the president. Featuring two quintessential president watches, Lyndon B. Johnson was a man who made sure his timepieces were fit for the job.
Cuba’s longtime leader and revolutionary figure Fidel Castro had a watch collection that was fit for his personality which commanded respect. Castro famously wore various GMT Master timepieces as well as the Rolex Submariner. In fact, in the first photos captured after Castro took control over Havana, Castro is seen hugging Che Guevara with a Rolex GMT Master on his wrist. Another famous photograph is of Castro wearing two Rolexes on his wrist, allowing him to track three time zones (Havana, Moscow, and Washington) at once. With a vast collection of Rolex watches which were used to track time at some of the most important and tense moments of the 20th century, Fidel Castro was an extraordinary political figure who understood the importance of a precise watch.