Watches are a status symbol and a statement, particularly for politicians. From the decisions they make to public appearances, politicians are often required to display a level of quiet sophistication that reflects their ability to conduct their roles. From the boardrooms to elections, world leaders always choose their best attire for every occasion to suit the room.
“Politicians have to be sure their nonverbal messages are on point. The watch one chooses to wear can send a number of messages to voters.“Katharine Thomas, head of Sotheby’s Watches & Clocks Department in New York
Arguably just as powerful as a canine-driven press tactic is a world leader’s wrist wear. A watch can speak a thousand words about the owner and their message. Whether a watch is too much or too little for a leader – you decide.
1) Lee Hsien Loong – Seiko 5 SNKK87
PM Lee is not particularly renowned for his range of watches, even though he is the most widely recognised Singaporean in the world. He prefers to keep things simple, having only been seen with one watch: the Seiko 5 SNKK87.
Seiko 5 is a series of watches that’s a cut above the usual Seiko watches. When it stepped onto the scene in 1963, it was revolutionary. Seiko set out to build a watch with five attributes, from which the watch gets its name: a self-winding automatic movement, resistance to water, a day-date in a single window, a recessed crown, and a durable case.
Over 50 years later, the watch is still a favourite of those looking for the perfect intersection of reliability, style, and price. The 5 series contains watches with slightly different movements and styles, including the military, pilot-style, but also dress versions and even a diver’s watch.
This 38mm watch Lee Hsien Loong wears has a stainless steel case with a stainless steel bracelet, together with a fixed stainless steel bezel. The case itself contains a silver dial with luminous silver-tone hands and index hour marker, with minute markers appearing around the outer rim.
It uses a cal. 7S26 self-winding mechanical movement, and cannot be manually wound or hacked. as the second-hand does not stop when the crown is pulled out.
This twenty-one jewel automatic is a remarkably good watch without compromising on the classic look to fit in anywhere. It might not look truly exceptional; it doesn’t pack in space-grade technology or style, but it qualifies better when it comes to daily rigorous work.
2) Mahathir Mohamed – Casio Protrek Triple Sensor Tide Graph
Mahathir Mohamed, the former prime minister of Malaysia, is known globally as a strong-minded leader who is pretty much down-to-earth. While he is not usually seen wearing a watch, he was photographed a few times wearing the Casio Protek Triple Sensor Tide Graph. First seen on a Facebook post put up by Malaysia’s well-known anti-crime crusader, R. Sri Sanjeevan, Mahathir’s watch is extremely simple as compared to his political rivals.
Protrek Watches are fantastic timepieces by Casio, specially for the person who favours the outdoors. Being the most feature-loaded watch in this list, it contains a built-in compass, barometer, altimeter and even a tide graph.
The Tough Solar high-capacity solar-charging system powers this watch, and can generate power even in low-light conditions. The large metal function buttons on the side are designed for ease of operation even with gloved fingers. They are also treated with a grey ion-plated finish that resists corrosion and abrasion. This watch incorporates a wide-viewing angle LCD, which makes sure the data displayed is highly visible.
3) Hishammuddin Hussein – Audemars Piguet Royal Oak
On the other side of the political spectrum in Malaysia is the current foreign affairs minister, Hishammuddin Hussein. He is a senior figure in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party. This Audemars Piguet Royal Oak in silver looks stunning, and Hishammuddin has been spotted wearing it on various occasions.
This 37 mm piece of art costs around USD $28,600 at the time of writing. The Royal Oak collection stands out from Audemars Piguet by its iconic octagonal bezels and unique dials. It has a slender, simple architectural form, that showcases a contemporary charm.
Powered by a cal. 3120 self-winding movement, the silver-toned dial features the Grande Tapisserie pattern and features silver applied hour markers, a date display and Royal Oak hands. It sports a luminescent coating for enhanced visibility. Equipped with a 60-hour power reserve, this high-performance model has a stainless steel 18ct silver bracelet with a secure AP folding clasp.
4) Shinzo Abe – Minase DIVIDO
Shinzo Abe is the current prime minister of Japan, and a lover for exquisite watches. He is frequently seen in a variety of luxurious wrist wear, from a vintage Omega Constellation C-model to a Grand Seiko. With Japan’s knack for gadgetry, Shinzo Abe does not need to look elsewhere for a timepiece that will suit him and also express his love for Japan. Recently, he was spotted wearing a Minase Divido watch during the G20 meeting in Osaka. It retails at S$ 3748.
Among the Japanese makers is Minase, a niche brand standing out for the originality of its watches. It was established in 1963 in the Akita prefecture, which is roughly 500 km north of Tokyo. With an annual production of roughly 500 watches – including the Minase Divido, Minase claims to be Japan’s smallest watch brand.
Minase’s flagship model, the Divido is a 40.5 mm steel three-hander. An 8-piece construction, the complex case features four lugs screwed to the back of the watch – which holds all the parts together. A Swiss Sallaz machine does the credit polishing. This is all done by hand and by one of two craftsmen at Minase. In fact, heat treating is used to create the dial indices which floats within the case.
A patterned leather strap or a steel bracelet closed by a folding buckle complements the Minase Divido. Just like the case, the architecture and the finishing of the steel bracelet are surprisingly intricate. There are no pinholes on the side of the bracelet but screws visible underneath.
They individually screw each segment (and it can be disassembled). With its original construction and elaborate case finishing, the Minase Divido is definitely a watch like no other.
5) Barack Obama – Rolex Cellini
Barack Obama has retired. He now spends his time doing humanitarian work through his Obama Foundation. It became evident through his political career that he had an affinity for watches. During his days as a senator, he consistently wore a Tag Heuer 1500 Two-Tone Diver’s Watch and nowadays sports a Rolex Cellini.
This watch, a Rolex Cellini (ref. 50509), is a 39 mm white gold wristwatch sporting a white dial. It is by far the most expensive watch Obama has been spotted wearing, because it costs a whopping USD $15,200.
The Rolex Cellini was named after the prominent Italian Renaissance artist and adventurer Benvenuto Cellini. A man of many talents, Cellini served as goldsmith and sculptor to popes and royalty. Thus, it’s apt that the watch which bears his name has found significance in the art world. The watch features a clean white dial, simple hour markers and a striking serrated bezel. There is no time zone, moon phase or even date. Also, it is a comfortable size. The 18K white gold’s appearance is similar to stainless steel, making this watch a discreet, luxury timepiece.
Through these watches, politicians view them as more than simply a timepiece. It is a fashion and political statement because it shows their love for luxury, appreciation for its beauty and simplicity, and love for their country.
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