A watch is immensely satisfying when it fits perfectly with the personality of its wearer. The capricious charm of Steve McQueen found its ideal counterpart in the Rolex Submariner, while the refined gesture of the first Daytona was essentially created for its contemporary, Paul Newman. Beyond the screen, what would be the perfect wrist piece for the “Prophet of Omaha” Warren Buffett, the world’s most successful investor and the seventh richest man on the planet?
Warren Buffett is known for his discreet, unpretentious lifestyle, and despite his estimated wealth of around $78.9 billion (as of August 2020), he does not own a Rolex collection. Warren Buffett does, however, wear a Rolex, and this model is the Rolex Day-Date.
Rolex Day-Date Collection
Main features of the Day-Date：
Case diameter: 36 mm; 40 mm.
Materials: 18-carat gold (white, yellow or eternal rose); 950 white gold
Functions: Time + with running seconds, date and day display
Dial: various colors and materials.
Bezel: fluted; smooth; gemstone magnifying glass
Crystal: Sapphire with Cyclops crystal
Movement: Calibre 3255
Water resistance: 100 meters / 330 feet
Strap. Presidential bracelet
Price range: $33,150-$75,000+ (new); $7,000-$100,000+ (pre-owned)
Who is Warren Buffett?
Warren Edward Buffett was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1930, the son of an investor and politician who made the world of high finance his home, as it was probably meant to be. He showed amazing mathematical ability at an early age.
Making his first investment at age 11, when he was a schoolboy, he was able to add a large number to his head.
By the time he started selling his own horse racing betting tip sheets and delivering newspapers, magazines and golf balls to his home at age 13, he had started his first business. While in high school, he invested in one of his father’s businesses.
At age 14, he purchased a 40-acre farm run by sharecroppers. Later in his school years, he purchased used pinball machines and installed them in a number of local barbershops, then sold the business when he went to college.
By the time he was 20 (1951), when he received his master’s degree in economics from Columbia University, Buffett had earned nearly $10,000 (the equivalent of more than $100,000 today) from his fledgling company. He only needed another decade to turn it into his first million.
By age 31 (1962), Buffett had become a millionaire and was so good at identifying and investing in undervalued companies that he started buying stock in a textile manufacturer called Berkshire Hathaway.
At the age of 34 (1965), he took over the company and shifted it from manufacturing to media giants such as The Washington Post and later ABC. Insurance group GEICO and oil company ExxonMobil were also high-profile early investments. Since then, Buffett has continued his rapid rise in the industry.
By the age of 59, when he officially became a billionaire in 1990, he had reached almost mythical status. Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting is considered a truly great storytelling event and has been called the “Woodstock of capitalism” – more than 20,000 people from around the world flock to hear Buffett speak – a combination of elite business debate and Midwestern folk humor.
Today, Warren Buffett will be recognized as one of the most charitable people ever to pledge his entire fortune to charity – the largest act of philanthropy in U.S. history – and join Bill Gates in making a giving pledge in hopes of recruiting more of the super-rich to donate their wealth.
How does the person who has everything tell the time?
Growing up in the Presbyterian Church, Warren Buffett is perhaps only known for his frugal lifestyle in terms of his abilities as an investor. Famously, he still lives in a five-bedroom stucco house in Omaha that he bought for $31,500 in 1958, mostly because it’s only five minutes from his office.
His favorite local restaurant was Gorat’s Steakhouse, where a 6-ounce sirloin sandwich cost Buffett about $9. (He reportedly consumes exactly 2,500 calories a day, no more, no less.) For at least the last 10 years, he’s been happy with Nokia flip phones, finally upgrading to an iPhone in 2020, and has been known to purchase hail-damaged cars and drive them, in his own words, “embarrassingly.” So, having been born into a generation that expects things to last, and having done quite well financially himself, Buffett’s only choice in watches is the Rolex Day-Date.
Few people have seen his wrist without a gold 36mm Rolex President with a silver dial and fluted bezel. No one has ever revealed which generation model he wears, but he is said to have worn the same model for decades. Based on the numerous photos of him wearing the watch, the model appears to be an example of an older generation with a 5-digit reference number, either ref. 18038 or ref. 18238.
Warren Buffett’s Rolex must have had a sapphire crystal, immediately ruling out all older 4-digit reference models such as ref. 1803 and all Day-Date watches before the adoption of the acrylic crystal. From here it becomes quite difficult to identify the 36mm Rolex President he owns, but based on the shape and finish of the lugs, it is likely one of the models in the 5-digit series, as the next 6-digit series has slightly wider lugs and a full-height polished finish. This is supported by the fact that he has reportedly owned the same Rolex President for decades.
It is well known that one of the keys to Warren Buffett’s phenomenal success is usually to invest only in companies whose products he likes and uses. For this reason, Buffett, who is probably still the largest shareholder in Coca-Cola, has tried (unsuccessfully) in the past to buy Rolex and add it to his extraordinary portfolio.
Rolex is actually a dazzling collection of independent companies, some of which seem to own parts of each other. In addition, it is entirely controlled by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, which is recognized by the Swiss government as a charitable trust and therefore does not pay corporate income tax. As a result, Buffett’s offer to buy the company was politely declined, but as he himself said, “they know my phone number”.
Why Rolex Day-Date President?
The Rolex Day-Date was launched in 1956 and immediately replaced the Datejust as the brand’s flagship watch line. The uniqueness of this watch is undeniable, made only of precious metals. Whether in solid 18-carat gold or the most precious platinum. As the first watch to display the date and day of the week in its entirety, it instantly became a must-have for world leaders and industry leaders.
Many American presidents have owned and worn Rolex Day-Date watches, and it is this association that has led to the recognized title of “Rolex President”. However, Lyndon B. Johnson is believed to be the first Commander-in-Chief to wear such a watch and was later (unofficially) forever known as the President.
The name “President” is not the official name used by Rolex to describe the watch itself, although it is the actual official name of the iconic Day-Date bracelet. The Rolex President bracelet has three semi-circular connecting straps, made of the same luxurious metal as the rest of the watch, and was designed specifically for the Day-Date, which was introduced in 1956.
Over the years, with the help of the watch chameleon, the Rolex President has grown in popularity with fans. Several different bezel and dial options were added to satisfy as many tastes as possible, and today it is the preferred choice of the top people in almost every field. Today, you’re as likely to see it on the arm of a heavyweight champion or a hip-hop mogul as you are on the arm of a somber senior bureaucrat.
As you might expect, Warren Buffett’s example is actually one of the least conspicuous and most traditional. Gold has been popular in different eras, but it has always been there. His general demeanor suggests that Buffett bought his Rolex president when he first made his big splash in the 1980s, and he’s been taking care of it ever since, persistently.
Who wears what watch?
In fact, many of Warren Buffett’s financial colleagues of the Masters of the Universe are particularly understated about their watches. For example, Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of the world’s largest investment fund, BlackRock, wears a Tag Heuer Grand Carrera watch and is responsible for managing the firm’s $5 trillion in assets. The same model can usually be found on the second-hand market for around $4,500.
Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of BlackRock, whose personal net worth exceeds $18 billion, is content to use a simple quartz-driven Swatch watch. Meanwhile, David Solomon, president and co-CEO of Goldman Sachs, chose to buy American Airlines with a $750 Shinola Runwell chronograph. At least, these are the watches that are pictured with them. What they have in their home safes, we can only imagine.
With that in mind, Warren Buffett really does seem to be a preservationist. Almost every photo you can find of him has the exact same watch on it, and if you plan to carry the same watch for the rest of your life, what better choice than a Rolex Day-Date?