On Jan. 22, 2021, The New York Times published a story reporting that U.S. President Joe Biden had worn a Rolex watch at his inauguration. The story stirred up some controversy on social media. While some agreed with the Times’ assessment that Biden’s wearing of a Rolex, a luxury watch brand known for its high prices, ran counter to his everyman persona, others argued that criticism of Biden’s watch rang hollow, especially in the days after President Donald Trump’s tenure.
As social media users came to Biden’s defense, a rumor started circulating that Biden’s once had once belonged to his son Beau, who died of cancer in 2015:
CNN’s Jake Tapper called this rumor false on Twitter. In a statement to Mediaite, the White House said that this watch was actually gifted to Biden by first lady Jill Biden. We reached out to the White House for comment and will update this article accordingly.
GQ magazine took a closer look at Biden’s Rolex watch. According to the lifestyle magazine, while Rolex makes a watch that carries the nickname “The President” — officially called the “Day-Date” — Biden was wearing the slightly more modest “Datejust” model. We don’t know yet exactly why first lady Biden selected this particular watch, but it’s worth noting that the Datejust was one of the first Rolex watches to make its way into the White House, on the wrist of President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953.
In 1951, when Dwight Eisenhower was still just a five-star general and not yet the President of the United States, Rolex reached out with an offer. The company wanted to outfit the general with a Datejust and sent him a gold version engraved with his initials. The watch famously appeared on a cover of Life with the general and then accompanied him into the White House in 1953.