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  1. Wealth
February 28, 2023

What makes them tick? Watches worn by the world’s richest men

By Silvia Pellegrino

They can have any watches they want – so what do the chosen timepieces of the world’s richest men say about them?

The very act of owning a watch was once a statement of wealth, a symbol of high social standing. Now that timepieces can be bought cheaply, it’s the quality of the watch that distinguishes its owner as an individual of means, good taste and style.

When it comes to the watch-buying habits of the world’s most high-net worth individuals, variety is the watchword, so to speak.

From traditional high-end timepieces, such as Warren Buffet’s Rolex, to Elon Musk’s colourful and outlandish TAG Heuer – and a surprising choice by Bill Gates – Spear’s examines notable wrist wear of the world’s richest men.

Elon Musk

One of the most well-known figures in the world, with a net worth of £116 billion ($142.1 billion), Elon Musk has been spotted in several premium watches.

Elon Musk in 2004 wearing a blue shirt and a watch on his left wrist
Elon Musk wearing an OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra in 2004. Image: Getty Images

TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 Chronograph ‘SpaceX’

Only 2,012 copies of this particular model were produced, making it perhaps one of the rarest in Musk’s collection.

It was created to commemorate SpaceX, as well as to celebrate the 50th anniversary of John Glenn taking a Heuer to space during the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission in 1962.

The watch can be purchased through auctions or from individual sellers for a price ranging from £2,942 ($3,600) to £7,845 ($9,600), depending on the condition.

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OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra

The CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter has splashed out on a favourite among sailing aficionados, the Seamaster Aqua Terra.

OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra with a stainless steel strap
OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra with a stainless steel strap and blue quadrant. Shutterstock

With a stainless steel body and distinctive silver dial, the OMEGA Seamaster pays homage to the ocean with a wave-edged pattern on its back and a teak pattern reminiscent of opulent boat decks on its face.

It’s priced from £3,900 ($4,800) to £5,891 ($7,209), depending on the model.

Jeff Bezos

The Amazon founder may be worth £96 billion ($118 billion), but when it comes to fancy timepieces, the world’s fourth wealthiest man is generally pretty loyal to one brand.

Jeff Bezos before his space mission, wearing a blue space suit and watch
Jeff Bezos wearing a custom Omega Speedmaster ahead of his 2021 space mission. Getty

Ulysses Nardin Dual Time (ref. 233-88-7)

An exceptionally made and distinctive piece from a lesser-known manufacturer, this watch has been worn by the 59-year-old CEO for at least 10 years.

The newer 2020 Dual Time line from Ulysses Nardin maintains its intricacy and internal structure but looks more modern and sporty than its predecessor.

Although Bezos’ exact model is no longer manufactured, a comparable piece is currently available for around £8,172 ($10,000).

OMEGA Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch 

Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatch on a dark background, to highlight the elegant features
Omega’s famous Speedmaster Professional chronograph went to the moon. Shutterstock

Bezos’ Speedmaster, like Musk’s OMEGA, was secured to his wrist on the billionaire’s Blue Origin NS-16, a suborbital spaceflight mission in 2021, using a customised Velcro strap.

The 42mm stainless steel casing of this model is inspired by the famed 4th generation design work worn by Apollo 11 astronauts during the first Moon landing.

Today, it retails for £5,557 ($6,800) and £5,891 ($7,209), depending on the variation. There is also a pure gold version, which retails for £45,663 ($55,872).

Bill Gates

At the age of 31, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates became a millionaire. Now aged 67 and with an estimated net fortune of £89.9 billion ($110 billion), the tech legend still favours a $70 watch.

Casio Duro

An inexpensive stalwart of the budget Casios, the Duro has been on sale for around a decade. As a dive watch built in a sturdy case, its durability is undeniable.

Bill Gates walking on a sunny day with his Casio Duro on his left wrist.
Bill Gates wearing his Casio Duro on his left wrist. Image: Getty

Stylistically, it is reminiscent of the Rolex Submariner and Yachtmaster – but comes at a tiny fraction of the price and is available for around £55 online.

Gates’ loyalty to the Casio model speaks for itself. He has, however, been linked to one pricey timepiece.

TAG Heuer Professional 2000

The 2000 series was essential to TAG Heuer’s survival in the 1980s and 1990s, even if Gates is rumoured to have given his away to a watch-enthusiast employee during a meeting in the Philippines.

Although the model has undergone multiple iterations over the years, its fundamental shape and structure have stayed the same.

A professional diving watch, the TAG Heuer Professional 2000 is currently called the Aquaracer and ranges from £1,765 ($2,160) to £2,353 ($2,880).

Bernard Arnault

Being a Tiffany owner naturally comes with privileges – access to extremely rare watches being just one of them. As the world’s richest man with a net worth of over £163 billion, Bernard Arnault, chair and CEO of luxury group LVMH, is the proud owner of a unique Patek Philippe.

Patek Philippe Nautilus (ref. 5711/1A-018) ‘Tiffany & Co.’

Arnault has been spotted wearing a limited edition Tiffany & Co. Patek Philippe Nautilus (ref. 5711/1A-018). The first model fetched £5.3 million ($6.5 million) at Phillips’ 2021 New York Watch Auction.

Only 450 pieces were produced, and each bears an inscription on the back honouring Patek Philippe and Tiffany’s 170-year partnership. This rare watch is available for £43,017 ($52,635).

However, the Frenchman’s version is unique thanks to its perpetual calendar complication and for being made of white gold, rather than stainless steel.

TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph

Arnault is also a fan of the luxury collaboration piece between Porsche and TAG Heuer: the TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph.

First launched in 2021, the watch follows the stylistic guide of the TAG Heuer Carrera, with a tricompax design and some Porsche details, including the iconic brand name appearing in red on the outline of the chronograph.

Bernard Aranult sitting showing off his watch during a fashion show,, in a black turtleneck and blue suit jacket
Bernard Arnault wearing a TAG Heuer Carrera Porsche Chronograph at the Stella McCartney spring/summer 23 show at Paris Fashion Week. Image: Getty

The time stamps on the watch are also written in the font used on Porsche dashboards, while the dial resembles a wheel pattern on asphalt.

The 44-millimetre case also includes two pump-style chronograph pushers and is mounted on two possible straps: stitched leather or steel with interlocking H-shaped links.

This watch is priced at around £4,880.

Warren Buffett

Despite a net worth of around £89 billion ($110 billion), Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha and chair of Berkshire Hathaway, remains grounded in almost every materialistic aspect of his life. But he does enjoy one particular premium watch.

Warren Buffett posing for the camera in a full black suit, with his Rolex President visible on his left wrist
Warren Buffett posing for the camera in a full black suit, with his Rolex President visible on his left wrist. Image: Steve Pope / Getty Images

Rolex Day-Date ‘President’ 36

The Rolex is perhaps one of the world’s most famous watches and a timepiece that’s synonymous with success.

Made of 18k solid gold and recognisable for its semicircular three-piece links, this Rolex timepiece is the most iconic model from the famous watchmaker and has long been a pop culture symbol of prosperity and power.

Nicknamed ‘President’ because of the number of US leaders who have worn the bracelet, this Rolex staple was introduced in 1956 – six years before it was reportedly gifted to John F. Kennedy by his rumoured mistress Marilyn Monroe.

Sapphire crystal makes its face entirely scratch-resistant – unlike the multitude of counterfeits.

Price ranges from £11,769 ($14,400) to £36,777 ($45,000).

More from Spear’s

The world’s greatest Patek Philippe collection

Is the dress watch set to make a comeback?

The collectors behind the surge in the rare and luxury watch market

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