Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Repeat - Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev - Vulcain Cricket Owner

When we think about the Vulcain Cricket, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is that it is considered the "Watch of the Presidents" (of the USA). In the process of updating my book on the Vulcain Cricket and the Presidents of the US, I came across this story that I shared over a year ago in a different outlet, and thought that I'd reheat it here -

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev - Vulcain Cricket Owner

With the passing of Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev the last remaining link between the Watch of the Presidents and the leader of the Soviet Union has gone with him.

Vulcain is, of course, well-known for its connection to US Presidents - particularly those who wore their Vulcain Crickets regularly - Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, and (then Vice) President Biden. 

As noted previously, the first US President to be presented a Vulcain Cricket directly from either Vulcain Switzerland or the Paajanen family in Helsinki, Finland was President Reagan. Curious to relate, just prior to that, a Vulcain Cricket found its way to the wrist of the leader of the Soviet Union. 

Credit Time Magazine International Edition
This first ran in the blog formerly known as Tempus Fugit on January 17, 2022 -

Yes watch fans, the Soviets beat the US to space with Sputnik, and Gorbachev beat any US President in being presented with a Vulcain Cricket, directly by Vulcain.

What has been missed, or simply assumed by most accounts of the Cricket and the US President connection was that the company had given the watches themselves. This was never the case up to this point. And it is quite intriguing that Michel Ditisheim, the son of the inventor of the Cricket would be the one to set up his father's invention on its second act on the world's geopolitical stage.

What Mr. Ditisheim explained to me was that the idea to give Mr. Gorbachev a Vulcain Cricket came about in what I often refer to as the "between time". 
This is the time when Vulcain had slowed down its production and became part of the  Manufactures d'Horlogerie Suisses RĂ©unies SA, or MSR. This group was formed in 1961 and included Revue Thommen, Buser Freres,  Phenix, and later Marvin (in 1976).

Mr. Ditisheim with the help of Vulcain enthusiast (and member of the Swiss Federal Council) Pierre Aubert helped to arrange the  presentation of a Vulcain Cricket to the leader of the Soviet Union. The watch was delivered to the Kremlin in 1987, and then... nothing. Not a peep. Mr. Ditisheim could not have been blamed if he might have felt it was a failure as a PR plan. Three years passed, and  it wasn't until he went to his mailbox, and took out that week's copy of Time Magazine's International Edition (December 30, 1990, number 53) that he knew that the Vulcain Cricket had not only been successfully delivered, but had found its way onto Mr. Gorbachev's wrist! Vulcain never received any sort of acknowledgement or thank you. But there it was, the first ever Vulcain  Cricket presented to a sitting "president" by the brand itself, splashed large across the front cover of (at that time) one of the world's most important news magazines.

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