Russian Officials Sporting Watches Worth Up to $1 Million

By Sadie Bass

Oct 28, 2009 2:50pm

ABC's Alexander Marquardt reports from Moscow: When Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was on vacation in Siberia in August, he decided he wanted to give a gift to the son of a shepherd he had tea with. So he took off his watch and gave it to him. A month later he was touring a factory when a worker asked Putin outright if he would give him something. Putin asked the man what he wanted, the worker suggested his watch. So Putin took it off and gave it to him.
But these watches were no Timexes, they were the Swiss brand Blancpain. When Putin showed up in October with a similar looking model on his wrist, the Russian daily Vedomosti decided to look into how much these watches cost that Putin kept giving away. And they found that the most recent model was a cool $10,500. Then the newspaper dug a bit deeper, pulling out pictures they had taken of other Russian officials’ wrists and looking up the prices of the fancy bling in the Wristwatch Annual directories or asking the manufacturers.  Turns out, Putin’s timepiece pales in comparison to those of some of his former officials. Take the Deputy Mayor of Moscow, Vladimir Resin. His DeWitt La Pressy Grande Complication is worth a whopping $1.03 million. The head of Russia’s state bank VTB rocks a $240,800 Patek Philippe. The CEO of the state’s gas monopoly, Gazprom, sports a $112,100 Breguet. The brutal leader of Chechnya’s Bovet goes for around $300,000. President Dmitry Medvedev’s $32,200 Breguet seems almost modest. And the list goes on. Top American politicians could never get away with jewelry worth as much as people’s houses. President Barack Obama wears a Jorg Gray given to him by the Secret Service, it retails for $325 on their website. Former President George W. Bush famously wore a $50 Timex. Most representatives for the officials refused to comment to Vedomosti, Putin’s spokesman said it was a personal matter. Giving gifts to officials to grease the wheels is common practice in Russia where ethics laws are lax and corruption is rampant. A section of Russia’s Civil Code does forbid gifts of more than 3,000 rubles (about $100) but there are considerable loopholes.

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