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08/02/2019
 4 minutes

Watches of the Rich and Famous

By René Herold
Watches of the Rich and Famous

Watches of the Rich and Famous

Blancpain and A. Lange in the Kremlin, Rolex in the White House

We’ll begin with two of the most powerful men in the world right now: Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. The Russian president, in particular, is known for his exclusive taste in watches. His extensive collection includes timepieces from Patek Philippe, IWC, Breguet, A. Lange & Söhne, and Blancpain. His go-to timepiece is a Blancpain Aqua Lung Grande Date. He’s been known to spontaneously gift this model, worth some 12,300 USD, to workers. At least that was the case in 2009 when a locksmith at an arms factory asked the politician for a souvenir during his visit.

Blancpain Aqua Lung
Blancpain Aqua Lung

The most expensive watch in Putin’s collection is likely his Tourbograph Perpetual “Pour le Mérite” from Glashütte-based watchmaker A. Lange & Söhne. This platinum watch is a rattrapante chronograph with a tourbillon. Only 50 examples of this timepiece exist, and it has an asking price of around 560,000 USD.

By comparison, United States president, Donald Trump, seems less enamored with fine timepieces. He did introduce a Donald J. Trump Signature Collection of watches in 2005, but the watches were taken off the market 12 months later due to a lack of commercial interest. Trump himself never even wore his own brand. It’s much more common to see him donning a Vacheron Constantin Historiques Ultra-Fine 1968, a particularly flat (5.5 mm) dress watch with a square rose gold case. He also owns a yellow gold, 36-mm Rolex Day-Date with a President bracelet, of course.

Rolex Day-Date 36mm
Rolex Day-Date 36mm

This watch was also a favorite of Fidel Castro. The Cuban revolutionary was a long-time fan of the Swiss brand and was known to wear both a Rolex Day-Date and Submariner – sometimes wearing both watches at once.

Powerful Watches for Powerful Women

Despite being one of the most powerful people in the world, Angela Merkel is far behind Trump and Putin when it comes to luxury watches. Any search for an expensive timepiece on her wrist will be in vain. The German chancellor prefers to wear a quartz watch from Boccia Titanium, an offshoot of German brand Tutima Uhrenfabrik. This rectangular watch is made of titanium and retails for some 115 USD.

Christine Lagarde – former French finance minister, chair of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and prospective president of the European Central Bank (ECB) – is also known as a fan of rectangular watches. Compared to Merkel, however, Lagarde spends a bit more lavishly on her timepieces. She is most frequently seen wearing her Patek Philippe Twenty~4, a stainless steel quartz watch worth around 10,000 USD. The watch’s value is boosted by diamonds adorning the case and dial. She also owns a Bulgari Assioma D. This watch is in keeping with Lagarde’s preferred style and shares many characteristics with her Patek. The watch is also a shapely stainless steel quartz watch with an integrated stainless steel band and diamond accents.

Patek Philippe Twenty~4
Patek Philippe Twenty~4

Religious Leaders and Their Watches

Politicians aren’t the only leaders with an affinity for luxury watches. The Dalai Lama, for example, has been fascinated by mechanical watches since his youth. At just seven years of age, he was gifted a Patek Philippe 658 by then-US president Franklin D. Roosevelt. He has been a passionate watch collector ever since and even dabbles in watch repair. His collection now contains some 15 watches, most of which are Rolexes. We can’t say for sure which models he owns, however, as the leader of the Tibetan Buddhists is rather secretive about his collection. He tends to wear his watches facing inward to obscure the make and model. Nonetheless, we know he calls at least one Rolex Datejust and one Rolex Day-Date his own.

Likewise, the residents of the Vatican are no strangers to fine timepieces. Pope John Paul II frequently donned a golden Rolex Datejust. In turn, his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, wore a 1960s Junghans timepiece. The watch once belonged to his sister but was bequeathed to him following her death in 1991. German politician Volker Kauder gifted Pope Benedict an Erhard Junghans Tempus Automatic watch upon his papal election.

Erhard Junghans Tempus Automatic
Erhard Junghans Tempus Automatic

So far, Pope Francis has not followed suit in terms of luxury timepieces. His watch of choice is a Swatch Once Again, which retails for around 55 USD.

Patriarch Kirill I, Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, was embroiled in controversy in 2012 when it was discovered that the religious leader owned a Breguet Réveil du Tsar worth around 33,500 USD. A photo was published with the watch edited out, but the editor forgot to remove the watch’s reflection from the table’s glossy surface, revealing that the photo had been manipulated. The religious leader, who has long been criticized for his extravagant lifestyle, never admitted to any wrongdoing. He claimed to own a Breguet watch but insisted he has never worn it.

Breguet Le Réveil du Tsar
Breguet Le Réveil du Tsar

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About the Author

René Herold

My name is René Herold, and I first discovered Chrono24 in a job listing. Admittedly, I didn't really care about watches before coming to Chrono24. However, after a few …

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