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The Watch Of Presidents
Watch Stories

The Watch Of Presidents

Sunday, 06 November 2016
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William McNish
Strategic Planner at RE-UP

“There is nothing quite as beautiful as the spark in a person's eye when you bring up something they are passionate about.”

Creative flare with an analytic mindset.

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6 min read

Power and Time are two elements at the centre of the US Presidency. The President of the United States is arguably the most powerful human on the planet, however time is something that they never seem to have enough of.

Few people will ever grace the presence of the President or ‘waste’ his time. So it comes as no surprise that within the hierarchy of the White House, the Chief of Staff is a pretty important figure. Their role involves deciding who gets to use the President’s cherished time and how much they can use. Four years might seem like a long time, but a presidency term and the power that comes with it goes by faster than you might think.

Vulcain 50s President's Watch Tradition

Luxury Swiss brand Vulcain has long been ‘the watch of presidents’. It has been ever since they invented the first genuinely operational alarm function which earned the brand a reputation with President Harry S. Truman. From that day forward, each American president has owned a Vulcain watch – a tradition which is still running with President Obama.

Watches have long been a reflection of power, no more so than with the president and his choice of wristwear. Current president, Barack Obama, has worn many different timepieces over his eight years in office. His current choice being a Fitbit Surge.

Chronographe Jorg-Gray JG 6500
Chronographe Jorg-Gray JG 6500

Obama’s watch collection includes everything from his famed Jorg-Gray model JG 6500 chronograph, gifted from his secret service detail in 2007, to a New Balance N7 sports watch. Lest we forget his Vulcain Cricket Anniversary Heart Automatic, gifted to mark his inauguration; engraved around the caseback is “President Of The United States Nov. 4th 2008 / Barack Obama.” On the movement is engraved “Barack Obama / Nov 4th 2008” marking the date of his election.

Until we get the chance to interview him, we will never know his favourite timepiece. There is definitely a conversation to be had about power within wristwatches. Obama has always been seen as a ‘man of the people’, a down to earth president that makes him even more powerful, as people follow him. A great example of this is the release of his limited edition Jorg Gray, which became an instant bestseller.

You’d presume a man who constantly strives to be a powerful figure would show this with his watch choice.
A man after his own… watch

Now Donald Trump has long been regarded an egomaniac in the mainstream media. He loves to see himself on camera (having had his own reality TV show and even appearing on WWE). So it will come as a genuine surprise to most of you when it can be said that it is almost impossible to find him wearing a watch that isn’t designed by himself. You’d presume a man who constantly strives to be a powerful figure would show this with his watch choice.

As previously stated, he did design his own watch brand – with his name plastered across the front. Obviously. Trump’s watch brand was sold exclusively at Macy’s, and it may have only lasted for a year before failing, but let’s not talk about that. The watch took inspiration from classics such as the Rolex Daytona and the Tag Heuer Monaco, if you’d like to speak of it that highly. It was fitted with a quartz movement and a big ‘Trump’ logo to boot.

Hillary seems to indulge in luxury horology a lot more that her billionaire opponent.
First Lady of luxury

Hillary is again surprisingly quite the opposite. A woman whose political choices have been called safe and called ‘boring’ on numerous occasions… She has however been the First Lady, Secretary of State and now of course, a presidential candidate. She is good at what she does and this can be reflected in her watch collection. Her two favoured brands are Rolex and Chanel. Rolex, a timeless ‘safe’ classic that will never become outdated and Chanel, a brand which screams First Lady.

Rolex Oyster Lady Datejust

However, since her presidential campaign, Hillary has been seen not wearing a watch. A watch can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth, lest we forget George H. W. Bush boredly staring at his watch during a debate in 1992. So it comes as no surprise that Clinton, a woman who has notoriously struggled with ‘likability’, has stopped wearing a watch in recent debates This could be seen as Clinton trying to show that she isn’t ‘out of touch’ with the people, which her and her husband have recently been called out on.

J12 White Phantom 33mm © Chanel

In a shocking turnout, Hillary seems to indulge in luxury horology a lot more that her billionaire opponent. Her watch choices, pre-election race, involved one of the biggest fashion houses on the planet and arguably the most famous luxury watch brands ever.

As a president, a timepiece is seen as a status symbol of power. However, they must pick wisely – too expensive and you are seen as out of touch, a digital timex and you may be insulted by the Washington Post. Whatever happens on Tuesday and beyond, we can be sure that the president will have one classic in their collection, their gifted Vulcain.

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