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Watchspotting Carlos Ghosan: Then and Now

Even if you swore off the news over the holidays, trading in your smartphone for a burner flip phone and cutting off your internet service at the telephone pole, you probably heard about Carlos Ghosn going on the lam.  Ghosn had previously served as the CEO of Renault and Nissan, simultaneously, and he was a giant in the automotive industry.  But he'd recently fallen from grace.  Ghosn was out on a $4.5 million bail having been jailed by Japanese authorities for almost four months as a result of alleged financial crimes.  After his bail was set Gosn was placed under house arrest. But on December 29, 2019, he walked out of his house, took a high speed train, boarded a private airplane, and ended up in Lebanon where he hopes to evade extradition. 

The press is covering this escape in excruciating detail, including a running debate over whether Ghosn hid in an oversized case for musical equipment in order to evade customs and security checkpoints.  Media have also noted that there is a timepiece dimension to Ghosn's saga: he apparently bought over $32,000 in Cartier watches using company money (that will get you about 8 Santos-Dumonts in steel on a leather strap before taxes). 

But Ghosn's personal choice of wristwear has really not been discussed at all.  I'm here to fix that with the help of our awesome community.  Back in May of 2015 keen eyed user MIG33 posted a picture of Ghosn on a Watchuseek watch-spotting thread and suggested that his timepiece was a Vacheron Constantin dress model. 
Screenshot of 2015 Watchuseek discussion thread
I did some digging and my best estimate is that this is the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Date Automatic in white gold, reference 85180/000G-9230, with the caliber 2450 movement (I believe in-house).  It has a 43 hour power reserve and ceramic ball bearings for the rotor, allegedly eliminating the need for lubrication.  Pre-owned estimates for this watch are in the neighborhood of $20,000 but there is a wide dispersion in listings and estimates.

Curiously, at his press conference today in Lebanon, Ghosn's wristwear had significantly changed. 
Ghosn at his Jan 8, 2020 press conference
A user on a dive watch group I belong to on Facebook noted that Ghosn seemed to sport a comparatively inexpensive plastic quartz wristwatch, possibly on a NATO strap.  After some discussion we settled on the likelihood that this was a Casio G-shock reference DW5600BB-1 (the strap and watchface seemed to match).  Pre-owned these timepieces sell for approximately $62.  Quite a difference in value from Ghosn's less controversial days. 

I bring this up, in part, in order to highlight my earlier article discussing how haute horology watches have a feature which high-profile individuals in risky situations greatly appreciate: portable liquidity. 
Close-up of Ghosn's press conference watch
Ghosn could have very well walked out from under house arrest in a "leafy enclave" of Tokyo knowing that he carried $20,000 on his wrist.  No need to visit the bank and  withdraw that amount, possibly exposing his plans in the process.  I can just imagine one of his accomplices pausing before Ghosn crawled into the musical equipment case in Osaka and asking for the watch as a "gesture of appreciation."  A watch collector really doesn't have much of a choice under those circumstances and it really isn't all that much compared to the $350,000 Ghosn seems to have paid for airfare alone.  Does this explain why Casio replaced Vacheron?

Ghosn's fate remains to be seen.  But, as in many elements of life, wrist watches have played a prominent roll in this tale.

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