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Serious Watch Scandals

Timepieces that have made major waves in the media

John Mayer and the Fake Rolexes

In 2014, musician John Mayer, a well-known watch aficionado, sued watch dealer Robert Maron for allegedly selling him vintage Rolexes with counterfeit parts, which he’d discovered when he sent them to Rolex for servicing.

Patriarch Kirill’s Vanishing Breguet

In 2009 The Russian Orthodox Church—often condemned for its displays of wealth—released a picture of its leader, Patriarch Kirill, sitting at a table. In the image, Patriarch was bare-wristed, but upon closer inspection, a rumored $30,000 Breguet Le Réveil du Tsar could be seen reflected in the table’s polished surface, having been (sloppily) Photoshopped out.  

Jay Z’s Hublot Hubris

Shawn Carter (aka Jay Z) gave a Hublot Shawn Carter Classic Fusion watch as a birthday present to former Yankee Robinson Cano, whom he manages through Roc Nation Sports. The MLBPA launched an investigation, but publicly did not issue any sanctions and Cano kept the timepiece. Cano later gave Derek Jeter a Shawn Carter Classic Fusion as a retirement present. Regift? You decide.  

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Flashy Watch

World leaders want to be seen as men or women of the people, no matter how wealthy, privileged or ruthless they really are. This aw-shucks vibe applies to terrorists as well. When the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi emerged from hiding to release video of a speech calling for the world’s Muslims to “obey him” in July 2014,  social media commenters couldn’t help but notice his swaggy timepiece, which looked like a high-end Rolex or Omega. His supporters called the footage fake. Then they claimed the timepiece was by the Saudi-based watchmakers Al-Fajr.