Barack Obama’s Watches

Watch collectors are different. We watch movies, read magazines, and study videos — not for the usual type of entertainment, not for the intended content — but to see which watches the stars and celebrities are wearing. Whether we are looking for Steve McQueen with an “orange hand” Rolex, trying to identify Jerry Seinfeld’s vintage Heuer Autavia, or seeing whether Paul Newman is wearing a “Paul Newman”, we focus on the watches.

So in the United States, in the year 2008, it is not surprising that there is a new subject of such intense horological focus. In September 2008, the most photographed and filmed person is no longer Tiger Woods with his TAG-Heuer (as he is recovering from knee surgery), and it is no longer Michael Phelps (as the Olympic torch has been doused). Rather, the most photographed person in the U.S. of A. in September 2008 seems to be the Democratic nominee for the U. S. Presidency, Senator Barack Obama.

So which watch does Barack Obama wear? That seems like a simple enough question. No sooner had he hit the campaign trail, in early 2007, than the “watch guys” started studying the photos, trying to identify his watch. And he was an easy study. With an image for being somewhat casual, and summertime tours through the Southern states, he often rolled up his sleeves. And when he rolled up his sleeves, the watch freaks saw a big, stylish watch . . . not the usual plastic Timex or Casio, so popular among those running for office (or in office), but a large, light-dialed sport style watch.

But what was this watch? The discussion forums came alive. Most experts saw a light-dialed TAG-Heuer sports watch . . . probably either a Series 1000 or Series 2000 . . . one of the common quartz watches of the mid-1990′s.

Then suddenly, something strange happened late in the year 2007. In the place of this rather common TAG-Heuer, the experts spotted a huge black Panerai; others saw a black-dialed Carrera re-issue; and still others saw a Royal Oak, something that Governor Schwarzenegger might wear.

Wow!! Could this be true? That rather than switching from the TAG-Heuer to the nondescript Timex or Casio, Senator Obama was actually stepping up his horological game? Could it be that he had gone from Wal-Mart to Wempe? What would the pollsters say? What would McCain say? Could this man of the people, the law professor and community organizer, be wearing a high-end Swiss watch? What would the Japanese say? Suddenly, the watch guys began to spread the rumor that Obama was also a watch guy!

This webpage will explore the mystery of Senator Barack Obama’s watches. Which watches has he worn? When did he wear each of them? Why did he switch from the simple three-handed sport watch to the massive three-register black chronograph? And what does this mean for the future of democracy in America?

As is so often the case, upon closer inspection, things are not as they first appear to be . . .

Copyright, Jeffrey M. Stein, 2008 - 2017;   all rights reserved