History Lessons: The Rolex President

by Scott Wagner

The Long History of this Timeless Time Piece is Worth Knowing

The Rolex President is a luxury watch with a long history. Created in 1956 it was originally just a “day-date,” but became known as the “President” after Lyndon B. Johnson took a liking to it and wore one nearly everyday of his presidency. He was also known to give out the watch as a reward to high ranking officials every now and then as a way of saying job well done. Reagan, Ford, and Nixon also wore versions, each one slightly different to suit their individual likes. It was during Johnson’s reign, though, that Rolex released the famous line with an ad for the timepiece that read “The presidents’ watch.” 

Most infamously, the one gifted to President John F. Kennedy from Marilyn Monroe resurfaced after it was thought to have been disposed of by an aide at the time. Remember? It was the same year she sang “Happy birthday, Mr. President?”Well, it was found and it fetched $120,000 at auction due in part to the inscription on the back, which read “Jack / With love always / Marilyn.” 

It’s not just a watch for political leaders, though. Tony Soprano, expertly played by James Gandolfini, famously donned one in 18k gold throughout all six seasons of the Sopranos. Jay-Z, too, has been spotted sporting his from beneath a sleeve of a tailored coat from time to time. Warren Buffet is also a fan, having bought one in the eighties and still reportedly wearing the same one today. 

Style-wise, it’s a recognizable timepiece that is sure to get noticed. Traditionally, as illustrated by more than one commander in chief, it’s worn with a suit in navy, black, or gray. Though that’s certainly one way to pull it off, we like to see them mixed in with a look that’s more casual. Cargo pants and a nordic sweater, a bathing suit and a linen short sleeve button down, a rolled oxford and jeans — these are the kind of laid back fits with which the watch looks best. 

Editor’s Note: Top photo by Joppe Spaa on Unsplash

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