Monday, February 16, 2015

A Vulcain Cricket President's Day

Okay, this has run before in various iterations, but as it is President's Day here in the "Land of the Free" I thought I'd re-heat this one a bit for you.

Now while it is true that president's have had various watches of note, it is, in fact, the Vulcain Cricket that has gotten the most "mileage" in terms of the number of US President's who have received and worn them.  This tradition started back before many of you readers were born.  President Johnson was presented one, and got so "wound - up" that he dispatched staffers to scour watch stores for Vulcan Cricket watches so that he could present them as gifts.

Vulcain, like so many other watch brands, bet big on The River card back in the late sixties/early seventies and got, well, "Rivered".  Per Wikipedia (as this is a lot cleaner than the Urban Dictionary):

The river or river card is the final card dealt in a poker hand, to be followed by a final round of betting and, if necessary, a showdown. In Texas hold 'em and Omaha hold'em, the river is the fifth and last card to be dealt to the community card board, after the flop and turn. A player losing the pot due only to the river card is said to have been rivered.

But time heals all wounds and Vulcain was brought back to life not by a fund manager or wealthy hedge fund in the UAE.  No, it was a small family jewelry store in Helsinki Finland.  They worked with Revue Thommen to create a new version of the Vulcan Cricket -

This one is mine ; )

So this President's day, let's take a look back -

Keijo Paajanen and his family brought Vulcan back and the tradition of presenting a Vulcan Cricket to US Presidents and others was re-born.  Here's a few excerpts from the Q & A with Mr. Paajanen -

How is it that you and your family got involved with the Vulcain Cricket in the first place?

Keijo Paajanen - It was through a meeting we had with Mr. Michel Ditisheim in Switzerland.  He was the Director for MSR (Montres Suisse Reunion) and a shareholder for Revue Thommen S.A.   It was actually his father Robert Ditisheim who originally created the Cricket!

JH - Helsinki, Finland is a long way from the US.  What was it that motivated your family to start presenting the Vulcain Cricket to US Presidents in the first place?

KP - As many watch historians and fans know, there was in the past a tradition of presenting a Vulcain Cricket to US Presidents.  We wanted the great story to continue and also because our family has always wanted to have good relations with the USA. My father and his family escaped from advancing Russians (Soviets) in 1939 (JH notes - this is the period of the Winter War).

JH - Who have you presented Vulcain Crickets to?

KP - To Ronald Reagan, George Bush (and same time Gorbachev), Gerald Ford (I personally met), Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter (I met also personally) and finally last year to Vice President Biden.

Well, time has since moved on, the Paajanen's are no longer in the jewelry business, but Keijo is kind enough to stay in touch and share stories about what were for me the glory days of Vulcain.

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