In 2007 President George W. Bush had his Timex stolen while working the crowds in Bulgaria. The Guardian was surprised at his choice of watches, but notes that there was at least other one President who shared the same taste in timepieces: Bill Clinton.
Former US presidents certainly seem to have had an eye for a classy timepiece. Rolex named its 1956 6511 “Day Date” the Rolex President after presenting one to Eisenhower. Ike also wore a Vulcain Cricket, the 1947-designed mechanical wristwatch with an alarm (the first one to boast this feature, which sounded like the chirruping insect). This model acquired the nickname “the President’s Watch” on account of it also being worn by Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson.
Kennedy wore an Omega to his inauguration, a gift from a friend given to him before the 1960 election, bearing the confident inscription: “President of the United States John F Kennedy from his friend Grant.” This fetched $350,000 at auction in 2005. In the same year, another Kennedy watch went under the hammer for $120,000, but this one was apparently never worn by the man. It’s a gold Rolex reportedly intended as a birthday gift from Marilyn Monroe – the inscription reads: “Jack, With love as always from Marilyn, May 29 1962”. It is believed the actress gave it to an aide to present to the president, but a note sold with the watch says that he told the assistant to “get rid of it”.
A Timex begins to look a bit tawdry in this company, but don’t think George Bush is unique among occupants of the Whitehouse in his choice of a cheap timepiece. Bill Clinton also wore a Timex (his was a plastic Ironman LCD model), and also owned a Swiss Army Watch.
It is hardly surprising that John Kennedy should wear an Omega. He’s the type who would do it. But the wristwatch of choice of some of the world’s most famous men of the masses may surprise you.
I am saving up for one now. I figure that if I get 8,000 or more readers to hit my tipjar, I can afford Jesse Jackson Junior’s $43,000 Rolex. Just kidding. Probably this Timex is a more reasonable goal, at only $27.15 with free Super Saver shipping.
It’s a mistake to think that successfully playing the part of the Man of the People means looking like a real guerilla, farmer or industrial worker. The real McCoy wears bad shoes, has matted hair and B.O. which is the necessary consequence of living as they do. However, the successful Man of the People must look nothing at all like that. Insofar as possible he should look and act like a movie star.
A textbook example is disgraced former British cabinet member Chris Huhne, shown below while a student at Oxford leading a protest against ‘elitism’.
Who better to lead a revolt against elitism than the beautiful people? Who wants to see a man in a sleeveless t-shirt with hairy armpits protesting against elitism? Who wants to see a man in a sleeveless t-shirt with hairy armpits period? What the public really craves on TV news is someone edgy, contrary and hip. Sincerity is not required but ‘cool’ is.
Huhne, as a cabinet minister advocated windmills, Green energy and similar politically causes while in reality using his power to obtain special treatment, even using taxpayer money to have photographs of himself framed. He now facing a jail sentence for rigging his speeding ticket. He was in Allison Pearson’s words, “a champion of social equality who believes everyone to be his inferior” — and therefore exactly the right man for the job.
To be cast as a Man of the People requires someone larger than life: tall, imposing, with tailored clothes, expensive cigars and striking wristwatches. A blank canvas into which we can project our desires. To play the part of a true peasant champion, buy a Rolex, not a Timex.