Can you really tell a man’s character by the watch he wears? Or in the case of the highest leader of the land, could you describe his governance style by looking at what’s strapped on his wrist?
Hard to say. But Sieg Suarez of Instagram’s @watch_mnl, in his maiden video on YouTube, recently made an attempt to answer the question by featuring some of the watches worn by Philippine presidents in the last two decades, from GMA to President Rodrigo Duterte.
In the video, Suarez highlights President Gloria Arroyo’s Rolex Lady Datejust, deemed unique because it is fitted with a Rolex President bracelet, the bracelet made popular by former US President Lyndon B. Johnson. Suarez, a lawyer, says this is “symbolic of power and strength,” adding “she could stand side by side other world leaders.”
Meanwhile, Suarez notes President Benigno Aquino III’s preference for the more casual watches, as seen in his IWC Aquatimer 2000 dive watch, his Suunto Vector, and Panerai Luminor PAM 114.
As for President Duterte’s preference for watches, it seems very unpredictable—a character people often attach to the former Davao mayor. One time he’s wearing an IWC Mark XVIII (IW327009), a modern classic Swiss watch, but he could also be wearing a locally made timepiece the next.
It seems the President has a penchance for IWC since he has another piece from the brand: a Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire (IW326802). Suarez notes this was introduced in 2019 at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), the international watches and jewelry trade show. The timepiece has a 39mm bronze case with a green dial, which gives the modern classic wristwatch a totally different character, as per Suarez. The watch is said to be worth P243,000+++.
President Duterte also once wore a local brand called Ibarra. Prior to one of his trips to Russia, he even told the press he will be wearing the brand’s Plaridel Automatic, 38-mm stainless steel watch that’s worth P17,995.75. The president’s thumbs up was said to have helped Ibarra big time because it sold four months’ worth of watches in just two days after Duterte’s public appearance wearing it.
What can we glean from President Duterte’s preference in watches? “He loves watches that are not common,” says Suarez. “You will likely not see a Rolex Day Date on his wrist. He loves wearing watches with leather straps, and his unique preference for watches is indicative of his unique approach on governance.”
Watch Manila features timepieces worn by some of the most prominent men in Philippine business, society and politics. To read more about Sieg Suarez, click our story here.
Photos from the watch brands' official website