I recently came across a very limited edition Swiss Army Alpnach watch bearing the United States presidential seal. Judging from the numbers on the side, only 77 were made. This piqued my interest to learn more so I contacted the seller who gave me additional information and also permission to use his photos in this article.
According to the seller, this rare timepiece was designed by Swiss Army and given to several presidents of the United States and the flight crew of Air Force One. He told me…
“Mr. Obama wore #44 and had #43* given to Mr. Bush Jr., #42 given to Mr. Clinton and #41 given to Mr. Bush Sr. #1 and #2 went to the pilot and co-pilot of Airforce One.”
*UPDATE (7-30-2017): It appears that a private civilian has number 43 so the information from the seller was not completely accurate. I might just try to track all the numbers down in a nationwide search.
Mr. Obama would not return my calls, so I had to cross-check the facts elsewhere. I found the answer in a July 2013 Chronos24 interview with Michael Meier, the International Sales Director of Victorinox Swiss Army where he stated…
“We have achieved to equip the Air Force One crew with one of our timepieces. This is the Alpnach Chronograph, which is enriched with the Seal of the President of the United States on the background of the dial at the 9 hour. So we do produce special editions, but we normally do not advertise them.”
Now that the watch was confirmed as authentic, I turned my attention to the seal which is not actually the seal of the president, but a hybrid including the additional words AIR FORCE ONE. It is not clear how this seal was printed onto the dial with such precision. I count probably 6 to 7 colors that make up the seal and maybe more if you count the dimensional effect of the outer gold ring.
The limited edition model is number 249045 on the case back and the specimen #70 is proudly etched onto the side of the case. This is the only Swiss Army watch that I have seen that has the specimen number that large and in that location. You cannot miss it.
Also, many of the brand’s earlier limited edition watches omit the model number and only have the specimen/series number such as 111/125. Maybe they started adding the new model numbers to make identification easier.
To my eye, the special edition watch seems to be based on the readily commercial model number 241527 seen below. The only differences between the two are the seal, the new model number, series/specimen number etched on the side and who owns one. The lugs look different in the borrowed photos, but I believe that is just an optical illusion.