LBJ is the only US president confirmed to have owned a Patek Philippe watch. His was a reference 2526 in 18k yellow gold and was ordered through Tiffany and Company with a special yellow gold Tiffany bracelet. Around the center of the watch’s enamel dial it states “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You,” known also as the Golden Rule. The watch is in the collection of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas.
The Vulcain Cricket wasn’t the only watch LBJ liked giving as a gift. In 1964 he had a similar dial as his Patek Philippe put on a run of Hamilton Electric watches he ordered for the express purpose of also giving as gifts. These watches all featured LBJ’s initials and the Golden Rule around the insides of the dials.
In 1958, LBJ was presented an electric 10k goldfilled Hamilton Pacer during a visit to the McDowell County Democrats in West Virginia. The back of the watch reads “Presented to / Senator / Lyndon B. Johnson / By the / McDowell County / Democrats / Welch, WV / Oct. 18 58”. The watch has a distinct Hamilton design and is reminiscent of the Hamilton Venture, which was known for being worn by Elvis Presley in the film “Blue Crush.” The watch is now said to be in the collection of Rene Rondeau, an expert on Hamilton electric watches.
Like presidents Truman and Eisenhower before him, LBJ also owned a Vulcain Cricket that was personally given to him by the company. In a thankyou letter to Vulcain’s president, LBJ wrote “I value it highly and feel somewhat less than dressed without it.” In 1964 the President was photographed for the cover of Newsweek, and his Cricket was clearly visible. Supposedly, when LBJ was in Geneva for a conference he asked his staff to buy as many Cricket watches as they could so that he could give them as gifts–all because he was such a large fan of the watch.
President Johnson was also wellknown for wearing a yellow gold Rolex DayDate. He wore the watch on the bracelet now called the “President” bracelet, and the DayDate brand itself is now known as the “Rolex President.” LBJ was also known to have given at least one Rolex as a gift. In 1973 before he died, he gave a gold Rolex to his cardiologist J. Willis Hurst who had cared for him since his heart attack in 1955. Johnson instructed Hurst to take the watch to a jeweler himself to have it engraved with the inscription “To JWH / Love LBJ”. It’s believed LBJ knew he was close to death at this time and was in a hurry to give the gift to his doctor. When Hurst was embarrassed by the inscription and didn’t wish to have the inscription made, LBJ wrote a letter to the store himself asking them to do the inscription.