The new President-Elect of the United States might have dodgy style, but these five Presidents of yesteryear had no such problem with their timepieces…
John F Kennedy
The Omega that Kennedy wore to his inauguration in 1961 was added to the watchmaker’s collection in 2005 for US$350,000 and a salmon-pink Bulova engraved with his initials sold for US$25,000 eight years later. But the juiciest JFK timepiece was a Rolex Day-Date given to him as a birthday present by Marilyn Monroe in 1962, engraved with “Jack, With love as always from Marilyn”, which fetched US$120,000 at auction in 2005 . . . along with a note from a presidential aide at the time that urged JFK to immediately get rid of it to destroy any evidence of their tryst.
Out of character for the impeached crook, Nixon turned down a limited edition 18 carat gold Omega Speedmaster to commemorate the moon landing in 1969, which now resides in the luxury watchmaker’s museum in Switzerland. Nixon’s all-gold Speedster Professional Deluxe is numbered no.1 in the run of 1014 produced to honour Apollo 11, and is estimated to be worth US$40,000-$60,000.
One of the most talked-about watches in Presidential history was worn by one of the most forgettable Presidents: Gerald Ford’s Hamilton Pulsar, the world’s first digital watch released in 1972 that Ford wore to hearings into Nixon’s impeachment two years later. The press demanded to know if the eye-catching LED timepiece was a present that exceeded the maximum ‘gift amount’ for a President, and although it was just a personal prezzie, Ford bowed to media pressure and never wore the watch again.
Clinton liked his watches as he liked his women: plentiful. The 42nd President was spotted in the Oval Office wearing pieces by Jaeger-LeCoultre, Roger Dubuis, Audemars Piguet, and Panerai, plus a PVD-coated Rolex Pro-Hunter Submariner. They were all great improvements from the Timex Ironman digital watch he wore to his inaugural ball in 1993, which The Washington Post slammed as a “wrist gargoyle” and an “unsightly blemish”.
After wearing a TAG Heuer 1500 Two-Tone Diver for the decade prior to his election, Barack shifted to a black Jorg Gray (below) the Secret Service gifted him for his birthday in 2007 — and the publicity worked wonders for the then-little known corporate watchmaker, who then launched the popular 6500 series chronograph and became known as the President’s ‘official’ watchmaker. Vulcain also presented Obama a steel Anniversary Heart Automatic when he was elected in 2008, continuing a 50 year tradition by the Swiss watchmaker.