Man, politicians wear cheap watches these days

Man, politicians wear cheap watches these days

Obama used to wear a pretty nice TAG Heuer watch — not a flashy timepiece, but one from a range that typically costs a couple thousand bucks. Since he’s been president, he has usually worn a much more modest $500 Jorg Gray chronograph, a gift from his Secret Service detail. (If you’d like to know everything that is known about every watch worn by an American president, then this is the obsessive for you.) That’s part of a relatively new tradition of presidential horological modesty. Bill Clinton, who is something of a watch fiend (owner of a customized Rolex, a Jaeger-LeCoultre, an Audemars Piguet, a Dubuis, and more), infamously wore a digital sports watch for most of his presidency. He doesn’t do that anymore, because he doesn’t have to pretend to be a man of the people. George W. Bush mostly wore a $40 Timex.

I have to imagine that the people who get exercised about the Obamas’ taste for high-end vacation destinations would probably have a hissy fit if this president rocked a flashy gold Rolex of the sort preferred by such kings of bling as Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson, or even a steel Rolex, as was Ronald Reagan’s habit. (LBJ also owned a Patek Philippe, prices for which run well into the six figures today and were proportionally no less expensive in his time.) Some of that would probably be racial, as a gold Rolex surely activates certain stereotypes about flashy black men. Some of it would be an understandable distaste for enduring lectures on inequality from a guy with fairly expensive tastes. …

In 2008, I argued that Mitt Romney should get in touch with his inner rich guy, and that we as a nation should stop being so silly about the fact that the sort of people who are in a position to run for president are likely also to have been financially successful in life. … I hope [Obama] gets in touch with his inner rich guy, too.  … probably not a Patek Philippe. But he does like to play the professor: Maybe some really nice bespoke tweeds? And he could take the TAG out of the drawer, too.

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