Monday was President’s Day, so to honor our American leaders, we shine a spotlight today on some of their favorite watches.
Throughout history, pocket watches and, later, wrist watches have accompanied many of our leaders on their journeys, to the podiums for speeches and more. In some instances, our leaders purchased those watches and in other instances they were gifts. Either way, time has always had an important role in the White House.
Our very first president, George Washington, owned a Jean-Antoine Lepine pocket watch during his presidency. It is said he asked a friend to purchase the watch for him while that friend was abroad. Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, as well as our fifth president, James Monroe, each owned a pocket watch made by Daniel Vaucher, a famed French watchmaker. Monroe also wore a Gabriel pocket watch. Years later, our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, was regularly seen with an American-made Waltham watch.
As the 19th century gave way to the 20th century, wristwatches came into vogue. One particularly favored brand with presidents was the Vulcain Cricket alarm watch, a favorite of both Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Franklin Delano Roosevelt wore a calendar watch by Tiffany & Co., whose movement was made by Swiss brand, Movado. In fact, Tiffany has created a tribute timepiece in honor of FDR's watch.
Post-World War II presidents also owned top-notch Swiss watches. John F. Kennedy, in the early 1960s, wore a Cartier and an Omega. He was also gifted a watch by Marilyn Monroe, but swiftly gave that watch away without ever wearing it. Other presidents, including Richard Nixon and Lyndon Baines Johnson, carried on the Vulcan Cricket alarm watch tradition. Although LBJ also owned and proudly wore a Rolex.
Our more recent US Presidents were less likely to sport the more expensive gold Swiss watches. Former President Bill Clinton has been seen wearing a Shinola, and, while in office, often wore a Timex. Similarly, President Barack Obama was seen wearing more affordable brands, such as Jorg Gray, TAG Heuer and a Shinola during his time in office. However, in his recently unveiled official portrait (done when each president leaves office), he is wearing a Rolex. As for President Trump: He has been seen wearing a Rolex and a vintage Patek Philippe.