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Mad Men time: What watch is Don Draper wearing?

by Michael Weare
20 April, 2011
1 Comment | Discuss this article

About the author

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Donald Draper

Two years on from its launch, the debate still rages.

What watch was Don Draper wearing in series one of Mad Men?

If one thing is destined to get watch forum pundits in a lather, it’s the inability to pinpoint a watch on the wrist of what has quickly become a fashion icon of our times.

Don Draper is the suave, self serving Creative Director of fictional Madison Avenue ad agency Stirling Cooper. Set in the early 60’s, the producers of Mad Men have gone to great lengths to recreate the look and feel of the era, and this has extended to the guys sporting authentic vintage watches.

don draper

There are numerous tempting glimpses of Donald Draper’s watch on his wrist in each episode, but frustratingly, agonisingly the camera never lingers close enough or long enough to nail the brand.

An exhaustive scour of the internet is yet to uncover the definitive answer.

don draper

Some resort to psychographic reasoning, trying to deduce what brand would have been affordable and fashionable for a man of his status in 1961. Others take the more pragmatic route of looking as closely at the watch as possible and then trying to find a match that fits the era.

don draper

Either way, the inability to accurately identify the watch is like an itch that can’t be scratched.

Don Draper watch lookalikes

Universal Geneve PoleRouter

Universal Geneve PoleRouter

Someone suggested that it could be the Universal Geneve Polerouter but with a white inner dial instead of the black one shown here. It’s the right era but it’s a definite no because the Don Draper watch has Arabic numerals at 12, 6 and 9 o’clock.

Omega Suveran

Omega Suveran

This is much closer. It’s a calibre 265 from the 1950’s with a bullseye design dial. The calibre 265 was derived from Omega’s famous 30t2 calibre which was victorious in numerous observatory competitions in accuracy and even defeated the likes of Patek Phillipe and Rolex.

Two problems though; it was made exclusively for the Swedish market, so how would New York based Don Draper have come by it? And it has a small seconds sub dial at 6 o’clock and Don’s does not. Wrong again.

Elgin Galaxie

Elgin Galaxie

All things considered this is probably the closest match. Elgin was a popular American brand at the time. An Elgin would have been easily obtainable and affordable for Donald Draper, in this, the early stages of his executive career.

The Galaxie had a silver tone dial with silver tone applied markers, silver tone hands, sweep second hand. Day/date at 3 o’clock and the correct Arabic numerals at 12, 6 and 9 with a 17 jewel Swiss mechanical movement.

Is it the right watch? We don’t know.

In the global scale of things does it really matter? Most definitely. So who can scratch this annoying itch?

What watch is Don Draper wearing?

If you know, please tell us by completing the comments section below.

Michael Weare | Website

Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine. Email: michael@clicktempus.com

Discuss: Mad Men time: What watch is Don Draper wearing?

1 Comment


  1. Anonymous

    Could be ’60s Manual Cortebert.

    Similar shape, colour and markings. The only thing missing is the 3-o’clock date window, but it matches otherwise.

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