There are a handful of watches believed to have been owned by President Truman. Some are engraved and show evidence of actually having been owned by the President, whereas others were not. This confusion stems from a jewelry auction of items from the state of Margaret Truman Daniel, the only child of the former president and his wife, First Lady Bess Truman. Some of the items were definitely owned by the president, whereas some of the other pieces could’ve been owned by Margaret’s husband, creating some confusion as to their original owners.
Gallet Flying Officer
Harry S. Truman owned a Flying Officer’s Chronograph made by the Swiss firm Gallet. The watch, which had a rotating bezel enabling the wearer to read the time in time zones around the world, was given to him in 1939 by two members of his senatorial staff.
The serial number engraved on the caseback is 64112. Truman’s appears to be one of the earliest, if not the earliest, Flying Officers known to exist. The watch is in the collection of the Harry Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri
Truman’s Flying Officer was part of the Gallet Clamshell line, which were first waterproof chronographs. The caseback is secured by four screws and it had round pushers. The Flying Officer is distinguished as the first watch that could be used to tell world time. The bezel would need to be set to the home time city and from there the cities on the edge of the dial plus the bezel could be used to tell time in other cities around the world.
Universal Geneve Tri-Compax reference 12551
President Truman wore a 18k yellow gold Universal Geneve Tri-Compax at the Potsdam Conference in 1945. It features an engraving on the back stating that it was “Worn at Potsdam / July 1945 / by / Harry Truman.”
Truman’s Vulcain Cricket watch was given to him in 1953 by the White House News Photographers as a gift upon his leaving office and bears the inscription “One More Please” on the back of its case. The inscription was most likely meant to humorously acknowledge the relationship of the President with the press and their always wanting a chance to take “one more” picture. The watch currently resides in the Truman Presidential Library & Museum.
Vacheron Constantin reference 6108
Vacheron Constantin has a record of Truman owning a reference 6108 Chronomètre Royal (back when they were signed “Vacheron & Constantin”). These were in gold and had a central seconds movement. It appears that reference 6108 was 34mm in diameter. We know little about the watch beyond this photographic record held by Vacheron and we do not know the present location of the watch.
Tiffany Pocketwatch by C.H. Meylan
Truman was given a Baylor President while visiting San Antonio on Sept. 26, 1948. While campaigning for his reelection, Truman visited San Antonio and toured the Old Governor’s Palace as well as the Alamo. That night he gave a dinner speech before guests including Governor Beauford Chester, Mayor Alfred Callaghan, and Congressman Sam Rayburn. He was most likely presented the watch then to commemorate his visit.
Movado St. Christopher Coin Watch
The last watch most likely owned by Truman was a Movado coin watch. The watch is inscribed with the message “To Our Chief Truman Dem. Club Xmas 1952” on its inner cover. Both sides of the “coin” case state “St. Christopher Protect Us” and show an image of Saint Christopher crossing a river with Jesus sitting on his back. Saint Christopher is considered to be the patron saint of travelers, so this watch may have been intended as a good luck memento for the President to keep while traveling.