A photo of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison wearing a watch in parliament has lit up social media, with several posts claiming the timepiece is a Rolex worth more than $30,000.
One of the posts was shared to a Facebook group called “We Loathe Dutton & Morrison” on April 17. It features a close-up photo of Mr Morrison sitting in the House of Representatives with his hand raised to his forehead, revealing a silver watch on his wrist.
An arrow points to the watch, while text below says: “Rolex Cosmograph Daytona White Gold $30,000+.”
The post’s caption reads, “Something noone (sic) seems to have mentioned.”
At the time of writing, the post had been viewed more than 180,000 times and attracted more than 625 shares. Slight variations of the same post have also been shared online, generating hundreds more shares (see here and here).
While Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been in the headlines in relation to pricey watches, the one depicted on his wrist is neither a Daytona nor any other model of Rolex, according to experts.
The social media posts follow controversy surrounding Mr Morrison’s call for Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate to stand aside during an investigation into her office giving four Cartier watches worth a combined $20,000 to senior employees as a reward.
Ms Holgate eventually resigned, later claiming she was “humiliated” by the prime minister despite committing no offence.
The posts claiming Mr Morrison was sporting a Rolex began circulating four days after Ms Holgate’s explosive Senate appearance, during which she made the comments.
However, the AAP image used in the posts dates back to May 2016, when Mr Morrison was treasurer. Images from Question Time on the same and other dates from 2015 and 2016 also show him wearing what appears to be the same watch.
Similarly, Mr Morrison’s watch features a black bezel – the circular part of the watch surrounding the face – with large silver or white arrow markings and no visible numbers, whereas all Daytona models feature numbers around the bezel above small arrows. Other Rolex models feature either numbers on the bezel or no markings at all.
Karl Braunsteiner, the owner of Master Watchmaking in Sydney with more than 30 years’ experience as a watchmaker and repairer, told AAP FactCheck in a phone interview the watch Mr Morrison was photographed wearing is not a Rolex.
“Rolexes do not have (the same type of) bracelet like the watch Scott Morrison is wearing. It’s not an Oyster bracelet, nor is it a Jubilee bracelet,” Mr Braunsteiner said.
“The design of the bezel, the case, and the bracelet does not correspond to a Rolex model.”
While Mr Braunsteiner said the watch could be a Tag Heuer, he said pictures of the watch were not clear enough to identify the brand.
Michael Woods, a horologist and former head watchmaker at Rolex’s Melbourne service centre, told AAP FactCheck in an email the prime minister’s watch did not match any Rolex Cosmograph Daytona that he had seen.
“First of all, the Rolex Daytona would have contrasting sub dials (the three smaller dials on the watch face), and in this case you should see some black rings on the dial,” Mr Woods said.
“Also, the black bezel wasn’t available on a white gold Daytona back then, and even now it is only available on one with a rubber strap.”
Mr Woods said the watch bracelet is “completely different” to Rolex’s style “because of its thinner, cheaper-looking construction”.
Nick Hacko, a third-generation watchmaker, also told AAP FactCheck in an email the watch Mr Morrison is wearing in the photo is not a Rolex Daytona.
“Actually, it is not even a Swiss-made watch but rather an inexpensive ‘fashion’ watch that retails for a couple hundred dollars or so,” he said.
In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for Mr Morrison told AAP FactCheck: “The prime minister does not own a Rolex or a luxury watch.”
The watch Mr Morrison can be seen wearing in the posts is neither a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, nor does it appear to be any other model of Rolex, three experts told AAP FactCheck. Several identifiable features on the watch do not match those on the Swiss brand’s timepieces.
The prime minister’s office also confirmed that he did not own a Rolex or any other brand of “luxury” watch.
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