Forbes recently released its list of the world’s 10 richest people, with Bernard Arnault, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos ranking as the top three, boasting net worths of US$225.9 billion, US$202.4 billion and US$126.4 billion, respectively.
With such large fortunes at their disposal, they can afford to buy the most expensive personal items the world has to offer – and that includes watches, of course.
While the seven men on this list indeed opt for premium watchmakers, their choices may surprise you. So, which of the world’s seven richest billionaires appears to have splashed the most cash on wrist candy?
7. Bill Gates – Tag Heuer Professional 2000 (US$1,400)
For many years the world’s richest person, Bill Gates is nevertheless known for being a humble sort, sporting a modest US$50 Casio most of the time. When it comes to luxury watches, he has been spotted wearing a Tag Heuer Professional 2000 at a conference in the Philippines – but not for long. Watch Ranker reports that Gates encouraged the conference audience to guess the watch’s price, and when one participant came closest with his guess of US$600 (it’s actually worth US$1,400), the Microsoft founder gifted it to him.
The watch has a stainless steel case and bracelet, and a blue dial with steel hands and luminous hour markers. It also has a unidirectional rotating bezel with Arabic numerals at 12 o’clock. Reportedly inspired by Formula One racing, the watch is also water resistant to 200 metres, making it ideal for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. The success of the 2000 series later led Tag Heuer to produce the 3000, 4000 and 6000 series.
6. Jeff Bezos – Ulysse Nardin Dual Time (US$12,900)
The Amazon founder’s watch of choice isn’t a particularly obvious or popular one, but he’s reportedly been wearing the Ulysse Nardin Dual Time for years.
The 42mm watch has a polished stainless-steel case and bracelet as well as a crisp silver dial with blue sub-dials and luminous hands and hour markers. It uses an in-house Swiss calibre UN-24 automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve and features GMT functions as well as water resistance up to 100 metres. The discontinued model is worth US$12,900, Business Insider estimated.
5. Carlos Slim – Rolex Daytona 116520 (up to US$35,000)
A Rolex Daytona seems to be the watch of choice for Mexican business mogul Carlos Slim Helú. Launched in 2000 to replace the legendary Zenith Daytona model, his 116520 featured the brand’s first ever in-house self-winding chronograph, considered one of the best mass-produced chronograph movements of all time, according to The Watch Lounge.
The 40mm case comes in stainless steel with an Oyster bracelet and black dial with three sub-dials for seconds, minutes and hours at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock, respectively. Its power reserve was levelled up to 72 hours from 54 hours on the Zenith Daytona and it’s waterproof up to 100 metres. It goes for up to US$35,000 on the second-hand market.
4. Warren Buffett – Rolex Day Date (US$42,000)
Another billionaire Rolex fan is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett. “The Oracle of Omaha” has various models but is usually seen with a classic Rolex Day Date, per Rolex magazine.
Known as the “President” watch, the timepiece has been worn by former American leaders from Lyndon B. Johnson and Gerald Ford to Donald Trump, per the same source. Warren Buffett’s piece is made of a 18k yellow gold case with a fluted bezel and iconic President bracelet. Its silver dial has the distinctive face of a Rolex watch with the yellow gold crown logo, hands and Roman numeral markers. It is powered by the brand’s self-winding mechanical Calibre 3255 movement and has a list price of US$40,200.
3. Larry Ellison – Richard Mille RM005 (US$100,000-200,000)
Another technology tycoon, Larry Ellison is spotted with different watches from Rolex to Panerai but the Richard Mille RM005 appears to be his favourite and most valuable one.
Launched in 2004, the watch is the brand’s first automatic model with a semi-instantaneous date-change. It features a 37.8mm case in 18k white gold with the brand’s signature skeletonised dial and a black leather band.
This model also inaugurated the exclusive variable-geometry rotor, allowing the Calibre 005 movement’s winding mechanism to be optimised and personalised to the owner’s lifestyle. Its cost varies between US$100,000 and US$200,000, according to Sotheby’s.
2. Elon Musk – Richard Mille 029 (up to US$250,000)
Richard Mille is also a watch of choice for Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, per Superwatchman, besides his Carrera Calibre 1887 SpaceX Chronograph, a SpaceX collaboration with Tag Heuer back in 2012.
His Richard Mille 029 is housed in a grey titanium case and bezel, with a black dial, silver-tone hands and black rubber strap. It uses a skeletonised automatic winding movement with hours, minutes, seconds, oversized date display at 4 o’clock and variable-geometry rotor.
Chrono24 estimates that this model’s value can range all the way up to nearly US$500,000 for diamond-paved editions, with the above mentioned more “everyday” model still worth US$250,000 in mint condition.
1. Bernard Arnault – Tiffany Patek Philippe 5740 (US$6.5 million)
The world’s wealthiest man Bernard Arnault also takes the top spot for his watch. The CEO of French luxury conglomerate LVMH has a taste for luxury fashion, of course, so he opts for an extremely rare Tiffany Patek Philippe Nautilus 5740, per Highsnobiety.
The timepiece is a combination of the Tiffany Patek Philippe 5711 and the Nautilus Perpetual Calendar 5740, mixing the signature Tiffany turquoise dial, and black-and-white hour markers and hands of the 5711, with the black perpetual calendar sub-dial lettering and moonphase window of the 5740. In December 2021, the first example of this Tiffany Patek Philippe was auctioned for an incredible US$6.5 million, more than 120 times its retail price.
Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.