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The watch didn’t belong to Beau Biden. It was gifted to the president by first lady Jill Biden, the White House said in a statement.
Joe Biden wore a Rolex to his inauguration as the 46th U.S. president.
Hubbub over the timepiece began when the New York Times ran a story on Jan. 22 about the luxury watch that highlighted its steep price — nearly $8,000 — and said it runs counter to Biden’s just-a-regular-guy persona.
The article was met with swift backlash from liberal voices online and a false online narrative about the watch’s origins.
"You remember that stupid-a-- New York Times story criticizing @joebiden for having a Rolex?" a post on Facebook reads. "Turns out the watch @potus wore to the swearing-in belonged to Beau Biden. It was in honor of his dead son." The post features a photo of Beau wearing a similar watch.
But the watch didn’t belong to Beau. It was gifted to Biden by first lady Jill Biden.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
We didn’t hear back from the White House, but the administration told news website Mediaite that the Rolex was a Christmas gift from the first lady. It’s unclear if Beau’s ownership of a similar watch was a factor in its selection.
The New York Times article, which ran in the fashion section of the paper, mentions that recent presidents opted to wear cheaper, "everyman" timepieces to avoid looking flashy. (President Donald Trump commonly wore a yellow gold Rolex, along with other expensive watches.)
But it also acknowledged that Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson proudly donned the luxury brand in office.
In a story about Biden’s choice of time telling, GQ Magazine reported that Rolex makes a watch nicknamed "The President," which is officially called the Day-Date. But Biden wore the more modest Datejust model, the same as Eisenhower in 1953.
"In 1951, when Dwight Eisenhower was still just a five-star general and not yet the president of the United States, Rolex reached out with an offer. The company wanted to outfit the general with a Datejust and sent him a gold version engraved with his initials," GQ reported. "The watch famously appeared on a cover of Life with the general and then accompanied him into the White House in 1953."
Biden’s watch was a Christmas gift from his wife. The post’s claim is False.
Facebook post, Jan. 25, 2021
New York Times, Joe Biden, Watch Geek in Chief, Jan. 22, 2021
Getty Images, Joe Biden Sworn In As 46th President Of The United States At U.S. Capitol Inauguration Ceremony, Jan. 20, 2021
Mediaite, White House: President Joe Biden’s Rolex Was Gift From First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Jan. 25, 2021
Rolex, Datejust 41, Accessed Jan. 27, 2021
Forbes, Luxury Lineage: A Brief History of the Rolex President Watch, Oct. 25, 2016
GQ, Looks Like Joe Biden Got a New Watch to Celebrate His Big New Job, Jan. 22, 2021
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