Emmanuel Macron sparked social media outrage as television viewers eagle-eyed him removing his “luxury” watch midway through an interview about his fiercely contested pension changes.
His television appearance on Wednesday occurred one day before more than 1 million protesters, or 3 million according to unions, demonstrated around France to oppose his government’s decision to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Critics accused the president of being “arrogant and contemptuous” of public concerns during the interview, which further fueled fury on Friday when people claimed that he had removed a watch worth €80,000 (£70,400). Others argued that the watch, described as “luxury,” was €2,400 or less.
He discreetly removed the timepiece while his hands were under the table during the interview, which people viewed as further evidence that he is out of touch with the ordinary French public and is a “president of the rich”.
However, Élysée Palace representatives tried to stop the controversy by saying that Macron took off the watch because it was “clunking on the table” while he gave the 30-minute prime-time interview. About 10 minutes into the interview, Macron’s forearms made a clunk sound as he rested them on the table before he removed the watch. He placed his hands under the table, and then he emerged with his left wrist without the watch.
France quickly picked up the manoeuvre, as there is widespread anger over the government’s pension law, which was a keystone of Macron’s 2017 and 2022 election campaigns. The clip has since gone viral.
Farida Amrani’s Comment on The Issue
Farida Amrani, an MP for the radical left La France Insoumise (LFI) party, said: “The president of the rich has never worn his name so well.”
The exact value of the watch is unknown. According to French media reports, the watch was manufactured by the French company Bell & Ross and is estimated to have cost between €1,600 and €2,400.
In a statement, the Élysée said: “The president didn’t remove his watch in order to hide it but because it was banging heavily against the table. The noise is clearly audible only a few seconds before the beginning of the video shared on social media.”
A source from Macron’s entourage, who chose to remain anonymous, informed the French media that Macron has been frequently wearing the watch for over a year and a half. You can see it on his Instagram account and in the official photograph by Soazig de la Moissonnière for example … he has also worn it for other events including the final of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and during his state visit to Washington last December.”