Warren Buffett’s Rolex Day-Date is a bold flex, even for a billionaire

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How to flex when you’re in the billionaire boys club? It’s doubtful whether the famously low-key Warren Buffett has ever pondered such a matter, but it remains an interesting question. Many of his financial peers, especially Mark Zuckerberg, take a decidedly normcore approach when it comes to presenting themselves to the world. Zuckerberg does not even bother with a watch. Presumably, he’s never late for anything because time simply revolves around him. Jeff Bezos, on the other hand, has his preposterous $42 million, 500ft tall “10,000 Year Clock” housed inside a hollowed-out mountain in Texas that he owns. Well, it’s one way to deal with a midlife crisis.

So what about the man they call the “Sage of Omaha”, one of the world’s most successful investors of all time with a net worth of around $88.5 billion? Although he has a notoriously frugal lifestyle – the Berkshire Hathaway CEO lives in the same five-bedroom house that he bought in 1958 for $31,500 (around $270,000 in today’s money), eats McDonald’s for breakfast and only very recently upgraded to an iPhone – he does seem to have somewhat finer taste in wrist candy. Specifically, he favours a Rolex Day-Date.

First released in 1956 and famously beloved by US presidents (a tradition that started with Lyndon B Johnson, hence the watch’s nickname, the “President”), it is a watch that telegraphs prestige and has only ever been made out of gold or platinum. Photos of Buffett reveal that he wears an older example, most likely the ref 18038 or ref 18238 in classic yellow gold (today both cost around £11,000 on the pre-owned market), which was probably purchased in the late 1980s or early 1990s, when he was flush with success after his first big deals. And just as he does with his stocks, he’s held onto it in the decades since. Buffett is nothing if not a player of the long game; his success can be attributed to generally only investing in companies whose goods and services he likes and uses and thinks are here to stay. At one point, he even attempted to buy Rolex, which is controlled by the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation. The Foundation politely rebuffed his offer. Can you imagine if he had succeeded? Now, that really would be an impressive flex.

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