Affection for fine timepieces can sometimes cause problems and even be used in the political struggle, as it is currently the case in Russia. The president of the country, Vladimir Putin, is known for his inclination to advanced mechanical timepieces and was seen wearing timekeepers from renowned watchmaking manufacturers during the last few years. His private collection of exceptional timepieces, which includes watches by A. Lange & Söhne (specifically the amazing Tourbograph “Pour le Mérite”), Patek Philippe, Blancpain and Breguet, is at the very center of the current controversy. President Putin’s collection and its value is investigated in a video made by the opposition movement named Solidarnost. As it is underlined in the video, the overall cost of the watches that Putin owns is about $700,000 which is the figure that equals six of his annual salaries. According to the opposition group, this is the clear proof of corruption.
Tourbograph “Pour le Mérite”, the Unique Watch Worth a Half a Million Dollars
The most impressive piece in the assortment is certainly Putin’s A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph “Pour le Mérite”. This jewel of micro-mechanics is made with fuseé-and-chain transmission, and the German company is the first watchmaker ever to be able to fit this system into a wristwatch. Previously, this sort of transmission was used only in marine chronos and pocket watches. The mechanism in question uses a chain with impressive 636 components (while the whole system surpasses seven hundred parts) to indirectly transmit the power between the mainspring barrel and the movement’s going train. Two ends of the chain are connected to the barrel drum and the fuseé. While the movement is running and its mainspring barrel gradually unwinds, the complex chain wraps around the mainspring barrel, while it simultaneously gets reeled off the fuseé. Moreover, the radius of the chain’s pull is adapted to the state of the mainspring (how much it is wounded at the time), which guarantees the constant amount of torque transmitted to the escapement, thus improving the punctuality impressively. In addition, fuseé-and-chain power transmission system incorporates planetary gearing (that insures the powering of the caliber, even while its being wound), pretension system (for harmonizing the mainspring and fuseé), as well as a blocking device (that causes the caliber to stop running just before it gets completely unwound, and blocks the winding system when it is about to be fully wound).
Self-Winding Mechanical Movement with more than Thousand Parts
However, this is just a part of the story about Tourbograph’s intricate hand-winding Calibre L903.0 that has more than thousand parts. The movement with 41 synthetic jewels also includes one-minute tourbillon and a rattrapante chronograph (split-seconds chrono that enables simultaneous timing of two different events) complications. The watch by A. Lange & Söhne is the only timepiece in the world that unites fuseé-and-chain, tourbillon and rattrapante chrono features. Additionally, the movement with 36 hours of power reserve also includes aesthetic excellence, because all the edges are chamfered and polished, and even the parts that are not visible include delicate finishes.
Tourbograph “Pour le Mérite” timepiece by the German watchmaker is fitted into a platinum casing (with the diameter of 41.2 mm, and the thickness of 14.3 mm) and crafted with a solid silver argenté dial with gold-plated hands. Sapphire crystals are used for the glass and for the transparent case back that reveals the functioning of its unique caliber. The most impressive piece in Russian President’s collection has the price that matches its fantastic features. This product costs mind-boggling $500,000, and is made in the limited edition that consists of 51 pieces.
More Exquisite Watches and Gifts to Strangers
As it can be seen from the video, Putin also has inclination to timekeepers made by Patek Philippe, because he currently owns two watches made by the brand. The first one of these is Perpetual Calendar 5140 timepiece that costs around $60,000. This wristwatch has an opaline-white dial with indications for month, day, date, phases of the moon and an AM/PM display; an 18K white gold round case with the diameter of 37.2 mm and a transparent case back that flaunts its self-winding mechanical Caliber 240 Q. The second Patek Philippe owned by President Putin is from the Calatrava collection. It is not stated which model it is exactly, but its value should be about $18,000.
Furthermore, the collection currently includes two models by Blancpain. The first of the Blancpains in Putin’s possession is Leman Flyback Chronograph 2885F-1130-53B (with a self-winding mechanical movement Calibre 69F8; a brushed steel round case, 40 mm wide and 13.3 mm thick; sapphire glasses on the front and back; a black dial with oversized double window date indication; and the price of about $10,000).
The other model by the same brand is Blancpain Leman Aqua Lung Grande Date timepiece with a round housing made of brushed steel (the diameter is 40 mm, while the thickness is 11.4 mm), a mechanical automatic Calibre 6950 with 35 jewels and 285 components, a black dial, and a black rubber band.
As it can be seen from the video, the President of the Russian federation likes to give away his timepieces. It is recorded that Putin gave the same Blancpain Leman Aqua Lung Grande Date watches to a baffled factory worker when he visited one of the companies in the largest country in the world, as well as to a Siberian boy he once met on a vacation. True watch aficionados will be shocked to find out that in one of the occasions, he even threw the watch of the same value into the cement at the construction site. The list of timepieces he owns is complete with a Breguet Marine timepiece that costs in the vicinity of $15,000.
The video that opposition activists made also compares Putin’s collection to the watches worn by the presidents of the United States and France. Barrack Obama is portrayed wearing his Jorge Gray 6500 watch that the company retails for $350, while Francois Hollande has Swatch Quarterman YGS73B that costs only $150.