April 25th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Zakaria: Watch your watches

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

A new danger for politicians, not only do they have to be careful of whom they consort with, what they say, and the promises they don't keep, they now need to look out for what they wear on their wrists.

Take a look at Nicolas Sarkozy at what should have been a standard political event shaking hands at a rope line. But it turned into a scandal thanks to this little move. You see, he has a watch in this photo, and in this one taken just after he has no watch. What happened? He took off his watch and he put it in his pocket. The French press speculated whether he was worried about somebody stealing it or whether he was worried that he would get flack for its reported $75,000 price tag. Well, he got flack all right.

Then there's this one from Russia with bad luck. Seems the Russian Orthodox Church Photoshopped a $30,000 watch off the wrist of its patriarch. But they forgot to Photoshop off the reflection of the watch. Oops.

And you have to be especially careful if you are in China. There's a blogger there who is set to scour the internet for images of politicians and oddly enough, monks as well, to determine what kind of watches they wear and how much more than their annual salary those watches cost.

His site is, of course, frequently taken down by the Chinese government censors.

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soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. ✠ RZ ✠

    Just goes to prove the man has no class.....wearing a cheap piece of junk like that.

    April 25, 2012 at 6:57 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      To have "class" a person has to have distinctive and superior quality. To be nonpareil.
      WHEN Nicolas Sarkozy first burst into the French political consciousness he was unlike anyother recent leader the country had known. He dared to tell the French what they did not care to hear: that they should work more, take more risks, promote more ethnic minorities. He was not afraid to roll up his sleeves, confront his opponents and courtunpopularity. He balanced firmness on immigration from abroad with fairness towards ethnicminorities at home. Never a fully fledged liberal, he nonetheless had enough liberal reflexes to understand that the French could preserve the best of their way of life only through reform.

      April 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Reply
      • Punisher2000

        Class is not about money. It is all about manners, way of speaking, way of eating, behaving in a certain manner at gatherings. It is clear that some moneyed people have money and they can afford expensive accessories. You, old chap, obviously have neither.

        April 26, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
      • Patrick

        You, little girl, calling yourself by a comic strip name, are not showing any class whatsoever.

        April 28, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Asad Khan

      It's a nice replica made in China but says Swiss made.

      April 27, 2012 at 2:02 am | Reply
    • John

      FYI, Fareed, "flack" (press agent) was the wrong word - twice! - you probably meant "flak" (incoming fire or criticism).

      April 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    Well, Sarkozy's watch is alleged to be a Patek Philipp and Patriarch Kirill's is a Brequet. Both brands are known to be extremely exclusive ones.

    April 25, 2012 at 10:11 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      There was a rally in Moscow last Sunday in support of Patriarch Kirill. His church, the Cathedral of the Christ the Saviour was venue of a anti-Putin punk performance several weeks ago. Members of the female band stand for trial and face severe punishment for hooliganism. The Los Angeles Times reported on the rally. My comment was rejected on grounds of profanity.

      April 25, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
    • Steve Fix

      Exclusive or excessive..........

      April 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Reply
    • Punisher2000

      As is Blancpain, which is even more expensive.

      April 26, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  3. GOPisGreedOverPeople

    So is Sarkozy.

    April 25, 2012 at 10:29 am | Reply
  4. joe anon 1

    i purchased the watch for the Patriarch. will get a better one for the Patriarch soon.

    why would sorrykozi's watch be a surprise? it isn't new.

    April 25, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Reply
  5. George Patton

    As much as I hate to be pessimistic and a doomsayer, it looks like this Sarkozy jerk will come out a winner in this election and pretty much keep things over there the way they are right now! If he does win, France will lose bigtime!!!

    April 25, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  6. 100% ETHIO

    Now days, some watches are built with Video Camera and Gamma Rays.
    The Spell-breaker is also on the way.

    April 26, 2012 at 9:28 am | Reply
  7. Flava Flav


    April 26, 2012 at 9:31 am | Reply
  8. WatchDude

    This is why I eschew $30,000 timepieces in favor of more modest Timex, Casio, and Walmart watches. My 1970s vintage Timex Mercury works just great!

    April 26, 2012 at 9:39 am | Reply
    • takes the lickin' keeps on tickin'

      Yeah man. I exclusively use Timex Expedition watches that last for years. They are waterproof, comfortable, tell the time in several timezones, have three alarms and several stopwatch options. They are about $30. I don't get mugged because of my watch. I use the alarm and stopwatch daily at my job. These guys are wearing $30k pieces of junk. They may as well wear lipstick and eye shadow too.

      April 26, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Reply
      • Hahahahahah

        They already wear lipstick and eye shadow. Hahahahahahaha

        April 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
      • DrD123

        I agree. I've had a Timex "Indiglo" for years. It cost a bit less than $30, does everything, and more, that I need. How can anyone wear a watch that costs more than a lot of hard-working folks earn in a year?

        April 27, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • Bob Lewis

      If you wear those pieces of junk, you're definitely no "watchdude."

      April 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Reply
  9. 100% ETHIO

    Do you remember the former President Ronald Reagan Movie?
    His overcoat buttons and Watch were made with explosive to attack his enemies. But, few years after, the ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, reverse-engineered Reagan's technique, since Two of them were playing knockout games.

    April 26, 2012 at 9:40 am | Reply
  10. Conrad Shull

    Of all kinds of worn 'bling", nothing a man can wear says "I have no taste" like an extraordinarily expensive watch. Actually, most any wearing of "bling" by a man, says "I have no taste".

    April 26, 2012 at 9:52 am | Reply
    • FiveLiters

      How would you know? Mayabe someone happens to like a particular watch-if it happens to be expensive,and they can afford it,so be it. Why do you equate price with what someone's taste,or their lack thereof,is?

      You should go live with the Amish. You and your 'taste' will fit in well there.

      April 26, 2012 at 10:32 am | Reply
    • I.B. Flashy

      What you talkin bout yo? You be think Ghetto-ridiculous osten-tastyness make me look stoopid or somethin' ?

      April 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Reply
    • Bob Lewis

      How condescending of you. Some people prefer to wear timepieces that are beautiful, functional pieces of art with hand made mechanical movements. If they can afford them, like cars, wines or jewelry, who are you to pass jusdgement?

      April 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  11. iceload9

    I'm more impressed that you can pay $75,000 for a watch. PT Barnum, there's one born every minute.

    April 26, 2012 at 10:53 am | Reply
    • Hahahahahaha

      A stupid french person? Hahahahahahahah

      April 26, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Reply
  12. magneticink

    ...ticking away the moments that make up a dull day...FZ fritters & wastes readers' time witha story that's inane...

    April 26, 2012 at 10:57 am | Reply
    • rosa

      in an 'offhand' way.

      April 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Reply
  13. TJeff1776

    I suppose I will justly be considered a simpleton BUT when I meet a business associate I never look at his watch. Most of the time its covered up by his left sleeve. I don't ever remember saying to one "oh, what a beautiiful watch you have". Mainly because I don't give a RA. I have a $ 125 one purchased at BJ's three years ago that serves me well. Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to why anyone would expose her/himself to a headknocking by walking around w/ a $ 30,000 watch.

    April 26, 2012 at 11:56 am | Reply
    • dan

      Whats it matter? Seriously. How many people walk around with thousands in gold jewlery? Again, whats it matter?

      If they can afford it. And they like it? Than it is none of anyone else's buisness.

      April 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  14. Frank

    I wear a Casio F-91W not because it cost $8.75, but because about 30 of the Guantanamo detainees were detained solely based on the "evidence" that they were wearing that watch when they were picked up. Someone noticed that a whole lot of people were wearing that same watch and it turned into one of those totally incorrect U.S. military rumors that the Casio F-91W was given out to top Al-Quaaiaiada recruits as graduation presents (nevermind that it's pretty much the top-selling watch of all time) so they started picking people up that they saw wearing it. Lol.

    April 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  15. Wastrel

    People still wear watches? Watches are a sign of techno-impairment. Your cell phone has the correct time.

    April 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      But your cell phone is a sign you don't have a life.

      April 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Reply
      • beernpizzalover

        I don't like your response...I LOVE IT!

        April 26, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Bob Lewis

      It's not about 'telling time." My 4k Omega chronometer will never tell time as accurately as your crappy timex. It's about owning a beautiful, historic, functional, mechanical piece of art.

      April 27, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  16. Hahahahahaha

    He must be compensating for something!!!! Hahahahahaha

    April 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  17. deniz boro

    Haven't been using a watch since cellular phones. But I do remember using watches according to the clients' inclinations when I was in marketing. It is not much different than having costumes of different flair or price group in your wardrobe. Well, that is an essential part of marketing masquarade. But the watch I usually loved to use was a watch handed down to me by my mam. 22 karat, hand-made. Omega (I think). Perfactly out of style for a 16 year old teenager. But than when I decided to learn photography the camera I used was a 48 Leica. Not a beginner's camera. Even placing the film in was almost impossible. But I respected that machine soo much. You see it was all machenically perfect, and the rest depended only on your talent.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Reply
  18. jj

    I guess the $8 watches I get at Walmart are safe.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Reply
  19. pozin

    People who wear expensive watches normally want you to notice. They love to flaunt their wealth and it is their money to do with what they want. Some people like to brag how much they paid for something, I am one that likes to brag how little I paid. Even if I win the lottery I do not see myself buying a $30,000 watch. I do think those that make these kind of purchases, though their right, are a little bit out of touch. I would buy a $20 Timex and give out thirty $1,000 scholarships to kids for school. Who do you think is the richer person then?

    April 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  20. Damiana

    What I don't understand is that you're going to pay more money for a watch than you would a CAR....It's obvious with Sarkosy that one of his aides probably pulled him aside and said "Sir, you know you'll get flack if you keep that $75,000 watch on when you're trying to promote to the people that you're a people person that understands the needs of the less fortunate...." But doesn't that show that these people are paid handsomely to look for every detail and make sure their boss isn't doing something stupid? That means they would do something stupid without them....

    Instead of buying a watch that cost almost as much as a house, why not devote that money to something worthwhile...instead of spending $75,000 on something that's only purpose is to tell you the time...that thing better be SUPER accurate, that's all I gotta say! LOL

    April 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Reply
    • Punisher2000

      At the present moment and considering the Real Estate situation in the US, some watches are worth more than a House, never mind a car.

      April 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Reply
    • mike

      Well, you'd be surprised about how (in)accurate most mechanical watches are – even at the $75k+ price point. Luxury watches aren't about accuracy (or for that matter usefulness – can anyone tell me what the purpose of a moon phase indicator is other than looking cool?), they're about (a) image and (b) appreciating the complexity of a mechanical watch and the complications in one (e.g. perpetual calendar (very useful, very expensive...an IWC Portuguese Perpetual hits the ~$35k+ mark, IIRC), minute repeater (useless, but...cool), regulateur movement, tourbillon (supposed to help with accuracy, but uber expensive – the cheapest Swiss tourbillon is JLC's Master Tourbillon Regulateur in steel...IIRC, in the $50k range), etc.). The only exceptions I can think of to the jewelry thing with nice mechanical watches are the Rolex Milgauss (handy if you're working in an area with lots of magnets, seeing as mechanical watches are rather sensitive to that), IWC's Pilot Watches, and many of the Breitling pilot and diving models...

      Of course, if you want to go straight to ridiculous, there's always the Breguet Double Tourbillion (~$350k), IWC's Il Destriero Scafusia (available at auction from time to time in the ~$300k range), or Patek's Sky Moon Tourbillion (only a cool $1.4m, give or take a few bucks...).

      April 27, 2012 at 1:19 am | Reply
      • Osama

        Maybe for an ignorant person, a moon phase would be useless, but what if you are a Muslim, and you use the moon phase to determine if Ramadan has started (Islamic Calander is based on Moon)... Jeeze, didnt you Americans learn anything in the last 10 years? Huh? Islamic Calander? Lets burn it!

        April 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
      • Bob Lewis

        Thank you. You are a very knoweldgable watch guy and you truly "get it." Fine timepeices have little to do with accuracy or functionality. They are pieces of art. Give me a Breitling Navitimer any day!

        April 27, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Dennnn

      Sarkozy is Center Right, they actually like to keep the money they make, so why would he give it to the poor?

      If his opponent has a watch, "the rich owe the poor" guy (left left of center, not the guy who actually left the building he was so left) you should direct the statement towards him. It might actually apply.

      April 27, 2012 at 1:59 am | Reply
  21. yuri pelham

    I don't have a watch I use my cellphone... always accurate. Maybe a gypsy stole his watch.

    April 26, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  22. Roberto Rossi

    Thanks Fareed! Another useless, derivative article. What is this guy's value-added? Just boggles my mind...

    April 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  23. jdoe

    Sarkosy would probably be in a lot more trouble if he was wearing a Casio watch with a built-in calculator.

    April 26, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Reply
  24. RandyKC

    At what price point does a watch stop being about time and start being jewelry?

    April 26, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Reply
    • WatchDude

      Unless the watch is Liberace-style Bling, it might also be about mechanical engineering, prestige, and exclusivity.

      April 27, 2012 at 12:21 am | Reply
    • deniz boro

      I guess it's is the understanding of an original painting and its repreduction even if the reproduction is made with the original material; it is the difference of the feelings you have to a historical artpiece in its original archeological site and the sadness you feel in a far away museum; it is also the sadness and shame you feel for an encaptured sea mammal and the joy you feel when you see them in their free environment. Watches were once the most advance technique of human intelligance. They were the peek of achievement and precission. So some watches still have the value for what they represent.
      After photography was invented, the world arts went through a phase of dislocation and renovation. A painting had to be more than a photograph. Painters like Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Seurat, Gaugain tried to go beyond photographs and managed to do so.
      Compairing an excusitely well made watch is like comparing a holiday photo with a painting.
      Or to put it plainly compairing a..... computer with a ....... computer. (I choose not to give brand, version, capacity, byte etc.)

      April 27, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  25. Peter

    Cool. I wish I could help that.

    April 27, 2012 at 12:29 am | Reply
  26. Coop

    It's Zakaria in another "look at me ma" article.

    What an idiot.

    April 27, 2012 at 8:58 am | Reply
  27. Willie12345

    I guess Fareed didn't get his news article from the WH and needed to do something himself for a change.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:03 am | Reply
  28. Eric

    Time is money my friends.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:49 am | Reply
  29. AmericanPeasant

    Lol, interesting article Fareed. Seems politicians no matter the country or ideology don't want their poor common people to realize just how much wealth they gain, and more importantly, how much of that wealth they blow away on something petty like a watch.

    April 27, 2012 at 10:29 am | Reply
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