“A lawyer who was an associate of organized crime figures saw [former FBI agent Babak] Broumand in a Beverley Hills cigar lounge and noticed he was wearing a gold Rolex watch,” Martin Woods writes at complianceweek.com. “The lawyer [considered] the Rolex and Broumand’s obvious expensive tastes as ‘an opportunity to recruit.'” And so he did. Broumand is only one of the least famous Rolex wearing criminals . . .
Legendary Chicago mobster Al Capone was a Rolex guy. His classy small seconds Rolex timepiece reveals the tax cheat was a man of wealth and taste. (Photo of Scarface’s actual watch courtesy of @wristenthusiast.com.)
Of course, the FBI didn’t need to clock Al’s Rolex Elegant 9ct gold cased watch to know he was the recipient of ill-gotten gains. Here’s another legendary criminal who didn’t give a flying you-know-what about keeping a low profile, horologically speaking.
Colombian drug lord and narcoterrorist Pablo Escobar founded the Medellín Cartel. Like many narcos, “The King of Cocaine” was partial to blingery. His diamond-encrusted Rolex Datejust (why not Tudor?) must have cost a bomb, but when you have a $3b fortune – not to mention an army of killers – nothing is out of your price range. watchranker.com reports that . . .
Escobar’s watch was sold at a Colombian auction in 2013 along with the former goods of numerous drug lords that had been seized by the government.
That Escobar’s Rolex only sold for $8,500 when it was valued at nearly nine times that much probably speaks to the terror Escobar continues to instill in Colombia, even though he died in 1993. As the anonymous buyer of the watch explained, “You never know who might track you down and ask for their things back.”
Just because you wear a Rolex doesn’t make you a criminal. But if you are a scofflaw at a certain level the chances are excellent you’re partial to wearing the crown. Especially if no one knows you’re banking billions violating clients’ trust and SEC rules.
That would be Bernie Madoff, the man who was to Ponzi schemes what Lamborghinis are to speeding tickets. The Divine Mr. M had a taste for high horology. “Rolex was a favoured brand,” dailymail.co.uk reports.
The Mail’s gallery of 46 Madoff-owned watches auctioned off includes not one but two Capone-era Rolex Princes. I bet Bernie had a few secret smirks about that one.
You don’t have to be a crooked FBI Agent, famous mobster, feared narco-terrorist or high dollar fraudster to be a Rolex wearing criminal. That’s even (especially?) true in a communist country – even the one that gave the world the coronavirus. reuters.com:
A picture of the rotund Yang Dacai smiling while inspecting the scene of a bus accident in which 36 people died last year [in Xi’an, Shaanxi province] provoked outrage, and criticism grew when pictures of him wearing high-end watches were then posted on social media sites.
State media identified his watch collection as consisting of models by Bulgari, Omega and Rolex, whose price tags Internet users said Yang could not possibly afford on his relatively low government salary.
Mr. Yang’s present whereabout are unknown. One thing we know for certain: nothing advertises wealth to more people more conclusively than a Rolex.
While the vast majority of Rolex wearers are as honest as the day is long, there’s a significant subset of bad guys who don’t understand – or care – that wearing a Rolex is a red flag to law enforcement.