CIA Timepiece Analysis: President Putin and Tucker Carlson

CIA Timepiece Analysis: President Putin and Tucker Carlson

Last week, former Fox News talk show host Tucker Carlson interviewed former KGB officer and current Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.  While much of the coverage surrounded the controversy of Tucker himself, we will focus on what we know best: the watches present at the meeting in the Kremlin.  It’s not just W.O.E. who will be analyzing Putin’s watch, members of the American Intelligence Community will be scrutinizing it, too. As we previously discussed in “CIA Analysis of Foreign Leaders’ Timepieces”, CIA Directorate of Analysis (DA) analysts will scrutinize this video frame-by-frame in order to inform policy makers.  Like we aim to do at W.O.E., they too will ignore the noise and rely on ruthless objectivity to produce an actionable product.

Tucker Carlson and President Putin Interview

Putin Takes off the Watch:

Minutes into the interview, Putin, dressed in a dark suit and maroon tie, removed his watch (potentially a Blancpain Léman Aqua Lung Grande Date) and placed it on the side table next to him, facing the camera.  At face value, this subtle gesture could have several meanings.  In an interview that lasted over two hours, it was clear that Putin was very generous with his time and it could be a conscious signal that he was in no hurry to end the interview.  Additionally, taking off one's watch and laying it on the table is a clear indication that it’s Putin’s home turf, i.e. the Kremlin.  In general, people only take off watches in their home as the risk of leaving a watch behind is a mistake you only make once.  Putin is in a position of power; he's in control in his home.   

Whether this was a calculated move or a subconscious habit, we can only speculate, but these are exactly the type of questions analysts ask.  We have seen Putin take off his watch and place it on the table in the exact same manner as recently as October 2023.

Tucker Carlson and President Putin Interview Rolex

Putin Health Issues:

After removing the watch, Putin vigorously rubbed his wrist for a few seconds. This could be a regular habit of his, but it could also be a potential indicator of health issues. Rumors have been swirling around concerning President Putin’s health for years.  Many of these rumors have been disproved; they’re either fabricated or amplified as a part of disinformation campaigns by Ukrainian intelligence services, Russian opposition, or other third party actors.  That said, there are some indications of deteriorating health, stiff or painful wrists are among them and could be a symptom of a plethora of medical issues, including carpal tunnel syndrome and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  In a vacuum, the gesture is totally inconclusive, however if paired with other information, it could paint a clearer picture of Putin’s health.

  • Misinformation is false or inaccurate information—getting the facts wrong.
  • Disinformation is false information which is deliberately intended to mislead—intentionally misstating the facts.
Russian President Putin Shoigu Rolex

Putin's body double?  

Past videos of Putin and his watch have caused some to question whether the Kremlin uses a body double in public appearances.  In one video he appears uncomfortable wearing a watch on his right wrist, and in another video he appears to glance down at his left wrist to check the time, presumably looking at the place the body double normally wears his watch.  While it’s certainly possible, it appears this “body double” theory was likely disinformation from Ukrainian services to create questions about Putin's health and mental fitness.  This narrative has been promoted by those close to Kiev, amplified on social media, and even picked up by some Western news outlets.

Of note, several Dictators have used body doubles in the past (including allegedly Iraq’s Saddam Hussein) and it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Putin would use one.  That said, most of the known use cases of body doubles are for security purposes (dummy motorcade) as opposed to recorded interviews that can be heavily scrutinized.  We see no indications that this or any other interview was conducted by a “body double.”

President Putin Presents Watch

A million dollar collection?

The “expensive watch collection” owned by Putin that’s often cited in the media is estimated to be valued over $1 million although we can assume this number is low for one of the wealthiest men in the world. Putin appears to favor silver watches on a black strap as seen during the interview.  In recent years Putin has consistently worn a Blancpain Léman Aqua Lung Grande Date but has also been photographed wearing a Russian made, Imperial Peterhof Factory (Raketa) watch.  The one in the interview is potentially the Blancpain given the butterfly clasp.  For a full rundown of Putin’s watch collection see: “Watches of the War in Ukraine.”

Tucker and CIA Troll:

Tucker Carlson and President Putin Interview

Another striking W.O.E. moment in the conversation was when Putin seemed to troll Tucker with a backhanded compliment about not being accepted to CIA:

“CIA of course, the organization you wanted to join back in the day as I understand. We should thank God they didn’t let you in. Although it is a serious organization I understand.  My former vis-a-vis in the sense that I served in the First Main Directorate, Soviet Union's intelligence service; they have always been our opponents, a job is a job.”

Putin KGB ID Card

According to press reports, Carlson did in fact apply to CIA after graduating from Trinity College.  As an apolitical platform, we are neither pro-nor-against Tucker Carlson, however we will note that not being accepted to CIA is by no means a failure.  While we can only speculate on acceptance rates for CIA officers, the number is minuscule and many have speculated that it is easier to get into Harvard than CIA.  Regardless, the President of Russia’s preplanned troll of the TV personality is on another level, just another example of once a KGB officer, always a KGB officer.

Tucker Carlson Buckley Dial Rolex Datejust

During the interview, Tucker wore his “Buckley Dial” Rolex Datejust on a steel and gold Jubilee bracelet.  Tucker appears to be a one-watch-man and the “Buckley dial” is a unique Datejust with printed (not applied) Roman numerals.  The watches were produced in the 1970s and 80s and the name is reportedly linked to John Buckley, a vintage watch dealer.

There is no shortage of stories to cover in the Watches of Espionage niche, and this article is an example of that.  At most historic moments, there are watches present and they offer insight into the men and women wearing them.

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I only ever wore a Swiss Army or Casio watch on my many trips to Russia, trying to avoid too much splash. But I always had my trust Pelikan ballpoint with me.


A very interesting and informative article. Just a few thoughts on the body double point.
The orc tsar, calling it by its name seems a insult to humanity, is a overtly cautious little creature. The US ambassador didn’t get to approach and greet the orc tsar closely during official ceremony because the orcs were still following COVID restrictions in the kremlin. The chances a lowly American propagandist to sit 5 metres from the tsar with no body guards for 2 hours seems a bit slim.
So a body double in the interview is entirely probable.

Terry Song

Putin is a walking encyclopedia and certainly flaunts his ability to recite Russian history. Putin makes several references to keeping conversations with US Politicians/intel people to himself and says it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to elaborate on specifics. One might suggest he is showing some form of respect for his former international colleagues AKA the United States.
The watch move is interesting and was NOT a subconscious move, he knows intel analysts will be scrutinizing this…which he loves…my analysis would be it meant nothing other than “he’s just messing with us”
Good analysis WOE.


An interesting read. Putin certainly displays absolute comfort in the situation, taking his watch off is just one more display of casual dominance by one of the most powerful men in the world. The rubbing of the wrist signals to me that this interview happened late in the day and his wrist was ready for a breather, and he had nowhere specific to be after.


Interestingly the “laying watch on table as power flex” manoeuvre in meetings usually involves laying the watch flat on the table or desk so that you know that they know that you know that they can see the dial. Putin lays it on its side here, so the “this is my territory” flex definitely fits here.

Colin Alexander Smith

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