Time and power: From Dwight D. Eisenhower to Vladimir Putin – the watches of world leaders

by Nils Rau


September 18. 2017 - by Nils Rau

Have you ever wondered what watches the elite wear? There are few sectors more connected than the world of politics and with that comes a lot of noteworthy wrist candy. In recent times, some consider it taboo for leaders of nations to wear fine timepieces, however, there are several politicians who sport iconic models nonetheless. Our latest article lets you in on the watches of world politicians, all of which range from under £100 to well over the £40,00 mark.

The history of politicians watches: The “President’s watch” and other notable timepieces on the wrists of world leaders

Luxury watches are prevalent on the wrists of world leaders today – although the frequency of their appearances does not quite compare to that of the past. Fine timepieces have appeared on the wrists of presidents, prime ministers, and other politicians for decades.

Iconic timepieces on the wrists of world leaders

JFK’S Cartier Tank

John F. Kennedy wore a yellow gold Cartier Tank with a black leather strap gifted to him by his wife for his birthday in 1957. On the case back of the watch is an engraving of the president’s initials, the date of his wedding anniversary, as well the family’s coat of arms. As many watch lovers already know, it was also rumored that JFK owned a Rolex Day-Date that was gifted to him by his alleged mistress, Marilyn Monroe. This watch was auctioned off in 2005 for 120,00 USD, although many claim that the timepiece is a fraud. Today, John F. Kennedy is considered one of the most charismatic US politicians of all time. Among many other accomplishments, the idolised president worked towards civil rights, world peace, and the scientific development and exploration of mankind.

Dwight D. Eisenhower and the birth of the “President’s watch”

Another notable US president – Dwight D. Eisenhower – wore an iconic watch: he was not only known for his Vulcain Cricket, but for his Rolex Day-Date – now nicknamed the “President’s Watch”. The connection between the esteemed Day-Date and numerous American presidents is another reason the watch strap has been nicknamed the “President bracelet”, which is characterised by exquisite semi-circular three-piece links and notable Crownclasp.

Although the President’s watch has enjoyed great publicity on the wrists of notable leaders, the timepiece is worn less and less today by politicians in the U.S.A. Barack Obama has been seen sporting a TAG Heuer 1500, which is a stainless steel diving watch typical for politicians demonstrating restraint. Bill Clinton wore a humble Timex during his presidency, sticking to the notion that politicians should be as close and grounded to the people as possible. Once Clinton left the White House, he unleashed his watch mania and has been witnessed wearing timepieces from Panerai, Frank Muller, Cartier, and many other renowned brands.

Luxury watches on the wrists of Helmut Kohl and Mikhail Gorbachev

It is not only American presidents who are avid watch lovers. The former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who played a significant role in the reunification of Germany, wore a Big Pilot’s watch from IWC Schaffhausen. Often seen on the wrist of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, is the restrained Omega Constellation Manhatten.

Luxury timepieces are, of course, big hits among politicians from around the globe. Their ability to sport fine timepieces, however, has become increasingly criticized over time. As a result, some politicians work hard to retain a non-privileged persona, in order to be seen as an individual who stands with the common people. As many watch lovers know, however, a love for fine timepieces is hard to shake. We have taken it upon ourselves to determine what watches worldwide politicians are wearing today. 

Germany: The secret watch of Angela Merkel

The question of Angela Merkel’s timepiece of choice naturally arose when she was elected the Federal Chancellor of Germany in November 2005. While many news outlets began to report that she was wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, the Chancellor, in fact, chooses to wear a quartz operated piece from Boccia, which sells for just 89 EUR. Perhaps the timepiece of choice made by the country’s Federal president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is of more interest – he wears a Nomos Tangente that was gifted to him from his wife for his 50th birthday.

France: Macron and his passion for luxury watches

The fact that Nikolas Sarkozy has a taste for luxury watches is no big secret: Among his collection is a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona as well as a Patek Philippe 39004G. France’s current President, Emmanuel Macron, who has been making headlines thanks to what some consider a controversial relationship with his former teacher and now wife, is in possession of a very classy watch: The Longines Dolce Vita. The elegant timepiece is distinguished by its rectangular case and stylised Roman numerals.

U.S.A: Donald Trump’s unpredictable luxury watch choices

The current US president and entrepreneur Donald Trump can most likely afford any luxury timepiece of his choice. He is usually spotted with a yellow gold timepiece with an elliptical case, which many assume to be a Patek Philippe Ellipse with a blue dial. He has also been spotted with a yellow gold Rolex Day-Date. The president has even launched his own watch collection. The brand: Trump – which was not particularly successful.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, has a distinctive watch taste: he wears a manual wind IWC Portuguese Regulateur, reference IW 544401.

Russia: The impressive watch collection of Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, is often spotted with a range of luxury watches. If anything, his watch collection can be described as exclusive and worth well over hundreds of thousands of dollars. Putin has been seen wearing a Blancpain Aqualung Grande Date, a Perpetual Calendar Ref. 5039 from Patek Philippe, as well as an A. Lange & Söhne Turbograph. The latter was endowed by A. Lange & Söhne with the title “Pour Le Mérite”, which is a term used for particularly complicated and sophisticated wristwatches. The Turbograph features a chronograph, a Rattrapante function, as well as a perpetual calendar.

Israel: Benjamin Netanyahu and his love for Panerai

More specifically, Benjamin Netanyahu has a love for his Panerai PAM 48. The Luminor model is one of the smaller Panerai watches available on the market with a case measuring 40 millimeters in diameter. Typical Panerai models measure 44 mm in diameter. Should you come across a picture of Benjamin Netanyahu with his PAM 48, you will quickly realise that the smaller case size fits perfectly well to his suits. The PAM 48 has an automatic movement, a date display, and a small second.

Nils Rau

by Nils Rau

Nils is a guest author for the CHRONEXT Journal. He currently dedicates most of his free time to wristwatches – be that talking with friends, browsing through blogs and online magazines, or keeping an eye on the timepiece stock exchange. When he is not contributing to the CHRONEXT Journal, he works as a junior lawyer in Northern Germany. His articles focus on brands, trends, as well as the philosophical questions within the world of fine watches.

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