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The Watches of Don Draper

Article By: Logan Hannen

Sep 11, 2018

What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to take a comprehensive look at all of the timepieces worn by the mad bastard whose life was the focus of one of the most fascinating television series of the last two decades. The show was AMC’s Mad Men, and the man is Don Draper.

Over the show’s seven season run, it’s “protagonist” (in quotes because, if you’ve seen the show, you know Don is not necessarily the best guy), Don Draper, is seen being an icon of the 60s and, eventually, some 1970s style as well, and his watches are no exception. They are definitely a reflection of this bygone era, and the show provides a fascinating look at these watches in the context in which they were originally worn, without the romanticism that we often apply to vintage pieces, especially some of the vintage pieces you’ll see on this list. Speaking of the list…

1: Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox w/ Replacement “Tuxedo” Dial

Don Draper and his JLC Tuxedo Memovox (Also: Don’t smoke, kids)
Source: Crown & Caliber

This first piece is one of the most interesting visually, if you ask me. Tuxedo dials are a particular design featuring a black ring under the hour markers and a white inner dial which, combined, kind of resemble the aesthetic of a shirt peeking through the V formed by a buttoned tuxedo jacket. Clever, even if I would have gone with the “Penguin dial” myself. Anyway, this is Don Draper’s season one watch, which gets upgraded in season two for another, more notable offering from the JLC catalogue…

2: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso in Gold

Don Draper and his JLC Reverso
Source: Watchtime

The Reverso is one of the most iconic watches in production today, and while the storied history of the piece has been told over and over, it remains an endearing tale in the watch world, and its sport watch origins seemed to have lost their thunder by the 1960s, as Don Draper definitely appears to wear it as a more formal watch (we’ll see in a second that he has a predilection towards sport watches too). What’s fascinating about the Reverso in the context of Mad Men isn’t the use of the piece on the show itself, but rather what came after. In 2012, Jaeger-LeCoultre released the Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to Mad Men, a very simple, black dial model of the Reverso that visually reflects (and likely is) the Tribute to 1931 Reverso that was released the year prior. On the back, though, is engraved the logo of Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce, the advertising firm that Don works at and is a partner of after a while. Limited to only 25 pieces, this tribute Reverso isn’t necessarily a huge, grandiose collaboration between watch brand and television show, but it’s a beautiful nod that very much feels like exactly the kind of watch an employee of SCDP would be awarded for years of faithful service.

3: The Rolex Explorer (unknown ref.)

Don again, now wearing a Rolex Explorer
Source: Longs Jewellers

Remember when I said that thing about Don eventually developing a preference for sport watches. Well, this is that watch. The Explorer that he wears throughout season four of the show has been rumored to actually be an anachronism, being a more recent Explorer reference than he would have been able to wear in the 1960s, but that only makes the piece all the more interesting. It also gets a pretty abundant amount of seemingly intentional screen time (watch the show and you’ll see what I mean), which might mean that Rolex invested a bit of energy to plug the piece without making it a public relationship. That, or Don is just proud of his super rugged, but super refined new Rolex. The world may never know.

4: Omega Seamaster DeVille

Don’s wrist and a black dialed DeVille
Source: Watchtime

In an interesting way, this piece is the one that I immediately think of when I think of Mad Men, in spite of Don’s Reverso and Explorer being arguably the more iconic of the pieces worn. Something about this Seamaster DeVille, which he wears throughout season five until the show’s finale, if memory serves me correctly. In many ways, with its crosshair dial and very plain stick indices and baton hands, the DeVille just seems like such an almost unlikely choice for Don Draper, someone who is both a total mess and also a total attention junkie, going out of his way to be one of the best looking guys in the room at all times. To pick such a plain jane kind of watch, at least in respect to design, after a run of JLCs and Rolex truly does, I think, inform the kind of character that Don Draper was – one who, at least in his own head, had the confidence to always keep it classy, watchfam.