Watches are status symbols and wealthy men like nothing more than splashing out on expensive timepieces. But what do the world’s richest men wear on their wrists?
Paradoxically, many of the world’s richest men don’t own particularly lavish watches – or, at least, the watches they do wear are nowhere near as lavish as you might expect. When you’re a household name worth billions of dollars, you don’t need to flex your wealth with a flashy piece of wrist candy.
It’s the same reason why politicians rarely wear expensive watches: at some point, you want to play down your wealth; look more approachable.
But amongst the 0.01%, there are still a few cool watches worth talking about. We take a look at five of the world’s richest men and what their choice in timepieces says about them.
First up, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Despite his insane personal wealth (and penchant for fancy superyachts), Bezos has a comparatively restrained taste in timepieces. The watch he’s most commonly spotted wearing is his Ulysses Nardin Dual Time (ref. 243-55-7/91), a watch he’s had for at least a decade. It’s a classy yet understated piece from a reputable yet somewhat obscure brand – not quite ‘stealth wealth’, but close enough.
Bezos also wore an OMEGA Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch on a custom Velcro strap during Blue Origin NS-16, the controversial sub-orbital spaceflight mission he embarked on last year.
Like Bezos, Elon also owns an OMEGA: a Seamaster Aqua Terra. He’s also been spotted rocking some spenny Richard Milles before. But truth be told, Musk – like many of the world’s billionaire tech giants, including Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg – normally doesn’t wear a watch.
His favourite piece is unsurprisingly his TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Chronograph ‘SpaceX’ (ref. CAR2015.FC6321). Limited to only 2012 examples, this retro piece was built not only to celebrate Musk’s enterprising aerospace firm but also to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a Heuer watch’s first trip into space – aboard the wrist of John Glenn during 1962’s Mercury-Atlas 6 mission.
Bill Gates’ name might be shorthand for insane wealth but the Microsoft founder is known for his extremely humble taste in watches. He’s usually spotted wearing a Casio Duro 200M (ref. MDV106-1AV) – a super-cheap quartz dive watch you can pick up on eBay or Amazon for $100 or less.
Gates clearly knows a good thing when he sees it: the Duro has somewhat of a cult status among watch collectors for its exceptional quality at a rock-bottom price. You don’t need to spend a lot to get a good watch.
Gates has also been spotted wearing G-SHOCKs as well as a TAG Heuer Professional 2000, which he allegedly gifted to an employee after a conference in the Phillippines.
Now for some bling. Warren Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and the so-called ‘Oracle of Omaha’ is known for his frugality – notably, he lives in the same house in Nebraska that he bought in 1958 for $31,500. His one indulgence, it seems, is his wristwatch: a Rolex Day-Date ‘President’ 36 (ref. 18038).
The Rolex President isn’t the most expensive watch on the planet, but few watches scream ‘power’ or ‘money’ more than this iconic, solid gold timepiece. Buffett’s had this watch for decades though so we reckon he’s got a lot out of his horological investment.
If you thought Buffet’s Rolex was flashy, then you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Bernard Arnault, the chairman and chief executive of luxury conglomerate LVMH and Europe’s richest man, might just have the most valuable timepiece on the planet. Talk about being an exception to the rule that the world’s richest men don’t normally wear expensive watches…
The Frenchman was recently spotted wearing a one-off variant of the already highly coveted Patek Philippe Nautilus ref. 5711/1A-018 ‘Tiffany & Co.’, the first example of which sold at Phillips’ 2021 New York Watch Auction for an eye-watering $6,503,000 last year.
Unlike that watch, Arnault’s is made from white gold, not stainless steel, and features a perpetual calendar complication (and is also a piece unique). Of course, LVMH owns Tiffany, which is why Arnault was able to get his hands (or rather commission) such an insane watch. It’s almost impossible to price the damn thing and it probably never be sold, but we’d pretty confidently say it’s one of, if not the, most expensive watch ever. Phew!