Presidents in America were no different to the rest of us when it came to owning a fine timepiece, they all wanted one, just like you and I today. Whether it was what we would now consider antique wrist watches or antique pocket watches, they ensured they were at the top of their watch game!
Take a look at the pick of the watches we have chosen from our five ex-American presidents from the past.
President Roosevelt’ watch of choice was a calendar wristwatch with the name “Tiffany & Co.” on the dial which featured a Movadomovement inside. Roosevelt covered his bases in the watch stakes as he also owned aminute-repeaterpocket watch from the Geneva-based A. Frankfeld Company.
Warren G. Harding, was one of the 14 presidents to be a freemason, and he had a watch to prove it. He carried a so-called “Masonic watch,” a particular type of watch in which Masonic symbols, including a compass, an hourglass, and a masons’ square, were used as hour markers. Additionally, Masonic watches had cases that were in the shape of another Masonic symbol, the equilateral triangle. These watches were always designed with the incorporation of a picture of the Masonic All-Seeing Eye, or Eye of Providence.
Ex-President Truman owned a Flying Officer’s Chronograph made with precision by the Swiss firm Gallet. The watch provided a rotating bezel which enabled the wearer to read the time in a host of time zones around the globe. The movement was given to Truman in 1939 by two members of his staff of senators.
During the moment that JFK took the oath of office on January 20, 1961, he was wearing anOmegaUltra Thin (Reference OT3980) which was given to him by the senator of Florida, Grant Stockdale. On the back of the watch an inscription bore the words, “President of the United States John F. Kennedy from his friend Grant.”
Arguably the most prestigious of all the watches from our 5 selected presidents, Washington sported a pocket watch made by Jean-Antoine Lépine, watchmaker to King Louis XVI. The watch was a large, but modest, key-wound watch with a virgule escapements. It was numbered 5,378 and remained within the Washington’s family ownership until 1935.
Image: Jeffrey Smith under creative commons.