As he calls for ‘Made in America,’ Joe Biden prefers Swiss-made Rolex hindustantimes.com’s headline proclaims. This the day after the President signed an executive order directing Uncle Sam to buy American, “Ensuring [The] Future of America is Made in America by All of America’s Workers.” A bit of horological dissonance that the rest of the mainstream media somehow missed . . .
“Biden’s $7k stainless steel Rolex Datejust is a far cry from the Everyman timepieces that every president not named Trump has worn conspicuously in recent decades,” The New York Times wrote (linking to TTAW). The Gray Lady wrote the piece before Biden’s EO. Still, The Hindustan Times has a point. Or does it?
Truth be told, there are precious few maybe even no “made in America” watches. We recently reviewed the Walden Watch Heritage Professional, a timepiece running on an American-made quartz movement. As for the rest of the watch, not so much.
There are plenty of American-based watchmakers, such as Shinola, Tally & Twine and Austin’s own DuFrane (above). All but a few assemble their watches in the Land of the Free using some to most to all foreign-made parts. The majority of which hail from The People’s Republic of China.
For the sake of argument, let’s say Joltin’ Joe wanted to ditch his Rollie and flaunt an America First kinda watch.
If we’re talking about a modern piece (Vortic re-manufacturers American-made pocket watches), if we discount the way cool but WTF Devon Tread, if we eliminate American watchmakers who don’t produce a series of timepieces, the Commander-in-Chief’s horological options are limited to one company: RGM Watches.
RGM calls itself “America’s Premier Watchmaker.” Yes, well, it’s not hard to be “premier” in such a small field. Even so, RGM Watches has a genuine claim to the title.
RGM manufactures watch parts, cases and mechanical movements at their Mount Joy, Pennsylvania factory. (The same state that claims President Biden as its native son.)
Legally, RGM can’t say their watches are “made in America.” Federal law requires that any product so labelled must be “all or virtually all” American-sourced.
What does “virtually” mean? Ninety percent of RGM’s 801 caliber-based watches qualify. The movement’s balance, escapement, hairspring, mainspring and jewels are all made in Switzerland or Germany to RGM’s design.
“I don’t play the American made game,” RGM founder and watchmaker Roland Murphy (above) tells TTAW. And hasn’t since he started the company in 2007.
Mr. Murphy’s company certainly represents the entrepreneurial spirit that made America great. Promising to build back better, the new President would do well to learn from RGM’s success. And, I’d say, wear one of their watches.
“We don’t turn any customers away,” Mr. Murphy avers when I ask if he’d welcome an order from President Biden.
RGM’s caliber 801-based timepieces start at $8k and rise to $135k (equipped with an American made tourbillon). Their entry-level price is a grand more than the $7k Rolex for which Biden’s been bombarded.
An RGM watch would be a lot more defensible, especially for Americans worried that President Biden’s trade policies will encourage foreign outsourcing while his immigration policies lower wages.
Truth be told, Joe Biden can easily afford an RGM watch. The politician who once claimed to be the poorest man in Congress somehow managed to become a multi-millionaire (as did at least two members of his family).
I reckon Say It Ain’t So Joe banked big bucks by understanding the power of projecting power, or at least its perception. An American-sourced watch would do little to diminish that recipe, and much to enhance it.