Home The Knowledge The Portrait

Vladimir Poutine: Watches that trump hammer & sickle

Anna Wu-Chauvineau
Le 1 February 2017

Vladimir Poutine is at front and center of the world’s attention today.  All the more so since recent events in Syria and the American elections. For some he is seen as a heroic figure, tenacious and uncompromising on his opinions, and for others, no less than a monster. Now political debates aside, we’re interested in what creates that special spark in Vladimir’s eyes. The refined watch on our wrist whets the appetite of even the most illustrious of men, as well as the most unscrupulous…

An insatiable appetite for timepieces

For several years now, Vladimir Poutine is a true aficionado of mechanical watches. This information didn’t just fall into our lap, clearly. But with an acute eye, we can see his famous wrist on certain photos or video footage of international meetings. Whether we’re talking about international summits or the official treaty signing of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, never without my Blancpain Aqua Lung. 

But the collection of the President of the Russian Federation is not limited to this « little » piece. He has many other Blancpain watches, such as a Léman Flyback. This shrewd ex-KGB officer has a particular weakness for Patek Philippe watches.

Whether he’s participating at yet another international meeting, or leading a rafting demonstration, a Patek Perpetual Calendar occasionally appears on his wrist. Rafting with a Patek, that’s going straight to my Lifetime To-Do List.  Here, we’re looking at the 5140, or the 5039. By the way, he also has the reference 5140 in both yellow and white gold…to match his moods, naturally.

A. Lange & Söhne - Tourbograph

It doesn’t stop here. Sometimes a Breguet Marine is at his wrist, suited up or off on a weekend visit for the Russian Federation. Another showpiece of the collection is an honorable Tourbograph from A. Lange & Söhne. Tourbillon, fusee-chain transmission, split-seconds chronograph. With what to capture Vladimir’s eye when his attention wanders during the General Assembly at the Douma.

The timepiece, a “friendly” present

The Emperor of Russia has a particular way of pleasing his compatriots. He’s actually a generous donor of Blancpain watches. Unlike popular belief, his aim has nothing to do with influent politicians or industrialists. It’s more like a soup kitchen, but with Blancpain watches instead of meatloaf. He recently offered an Aqua Lung to a factory worker during an official visit. The man asked the President for a souvenir and ended up with a luxury watch. Legend has it that Poutine thought about what to offer the man for a long while, when the factory worker suggested the watch. Ask and thou shall receive…

During one of his escapades in Central Siberia, he offered another Aqua Lung to a local shepherd with whom he spent his afternoon horse-riding….bare-chested. The President, not the shepherd. The question we all have in mind: how is this shepherd going to have his watch inspected? Obviously.

 It’s also important to have a few timepieces at his disposition at his main residence in Novo-Ogaryovo, just in case there is a VIP goodie-bag complication. Another item to add to my Lifetime To-Do List. An invitation to a casual breakfast with the President of the Russian Federation to chat about watches and country borders and, just maybe, leave with a handsome souvenir. From Russia with love.

 These watches, hence, have advantages other than gracing a wrist. A strong sign of power, absolutely, but also used as leverage in exchange for unspoken agreement. Indeed, watches have their dark side. Emperor Vladimir understands almost all too well, but beyond this, he’s just a man who admires and respects beautiful and sometimes complicated timepieces.

A. Lange & Söhne - Tourbograph