One of our favorite tech tycoons turned philanthropists, Bill Gates, has an eye for value.
The founder of Microsoft and the second richest man in the world (behind Jeff Bezos, but still in front of long time friend Warren Buffett) wears modest Casio watches.
Bill Gates is well known for his many philanthropic endeavors. In fact, one of the primary reasons he is no longer the richest man in the world is because he's generously given away a substantial part of his fortune.
He, along with Warren Buffet, also influenced other mega-rich celebrities and entrepreneurs to donate at least half of their wealth through "the Giving Pledge". Well played Mr Gates.
For a man that could easily buy any luxury watch company, never mind a few Rolexes, it's quite refreshing to see him continually sport watches that anyone can afford.
We've featured two of Bill Gates' watches he wears the most below. We also touch on a story that has surfaced about a watch he gifted to an employee that exemplifies Bill's generous character.
Bill Gates has been spotted several times wearing his trusted Casio Duro diver - commonly known as the Casio Marlin because of the marlin logo on the face.
One of these public appearances was on the Stephen Colbert show whilst he and wife Melinda gave their views on taxing the wealthy.
The Casio Duro Marlin MDV106-1AV can be seen throughout the interview popping out from Bill's lavender sweater:
Like any quality dive watch, the Marlin includes a unidirectional rotating bezel to allow divers to track their time submerged underwater.
The 200m water resistance is a great feature at this price. Whilst I've no proof that Bill Gates has ever worn his Marlin diving, I would be happy to take a bet that he's submerged it a few times at his Lake Washington house.
The movement is Japanese quartz and comes with a battery that lasts 3 years. What? You expected a mechanical diver at this price? No chance.
Other features include a black face with white luminous markers for the hour indices and bezel markers. The hands are also covered in lume, making for impressive visibility at night and underwater.
Like the Submariner, the Casio Duro features an easy to read date window at 3 o'clock and a sturdy screw down crown to keep water out.
All in all, for around $50 there is little to dislike about this affordable diver. If a man with the disposable income of Bill Gates is happy with a Submariner homage over the real deal, that's good enough reason for me to add one to my everyday collection.
Given the net worth of Bill Gates, you'd possibly expect his wrist wardrobe to include super exclusive Rolexes, Omegas or similar. But no, fitting with his rather conservative lifestyle, he often opts to wear what he calls a "$10 watch".
This $10 watch is actually a Casio Illuminator W214H-1AV, and whilst it is certainly an inexpensive watch, you may have to pay slightly more than the $10 quoted by Bill.
Check out the video below by Politico where when asked whether the watch he is wearing is similar to a medical watch he is currently speaking about, Bill responds with, "no, this is a $10 watch."
Certainly a relatively humble watch for a man of Bill's stature, the Casio Illuminator W214H-1AV is digital with a 45 mm plastic case and silicon band.
The Japanese manufactured Casio is water resistant to 50m and has quartz based movement.
Digital features include 3 countdown dials, stopwatch and alarm.
For a cheap watch, it's certainly well built and durable.
Given many ultra-rich decide to show off their wealth with flashy, expensive watches, it's refreshing that all Bill Gates fans can emulate his style with a very affordable Casio.
You can't help but feel that Bill Gates has put considerable thought into the message he's sending with his watch selection.
For many of us, buying a luxury watch comes with the side benefit that it signals success and prestige. But, for a man that carries both in abundance, choosing a cheap watch sends the message that wealth alone doesn't impress him. Rather, it's what you do with that wealth that matters.
Perhaps this was the message he was sending when he gifted a TAG Heuer Professional 2000 to a conference attendee in the Philippines. As told by watch collector Johann Espiritu in an interview with Fratello, Bill gave the watch off his wrist to the conference attendee who most closely guessed the value of his watch.
Everyone predicted that such a successful business man would be wearing a luxurious high-end watch. All except Johann's father. His guess of a seemingly paltry amount of $600 was the closest and he was rewarded with the TAG Heuer Professional 2000.
To be clear, there is no visual proof of Bill Gates wearing the TAG. But, I've no reason to doubt it and it fits his philanthropic MO. The images below are of the exact watch gifted to Johann's father. While you're at it, check out some of Johann's other sweet watches.
The TAG Heuer 2000 Professional range was a commercial success and is still well regarded by watch collectors today. The last 2000's were built in 2005 when TAG Heuer transitioned to the Aquaracer models.
Because they were successful, they were also widely produced. So, you can still find a good quality used TH 2000 for around $500-$1,000.
This is the second Rolex Submariner inspired homage worn by Bill Gates. Heuer, and later TAG Heuer after their merger in 1985, never tried to compete head to head with the Submariner.
Instead, they opted to take several of the popular design features from the Submariner, rework them and then repackage at a more economical price point.
This strategy worked very well, with the 2000 range greatly assisting TAG Heuer navigate through the 1990s.
The model worn and gifted by Bill Gates appears to be a 3rd generation TAG Heuer 2000 that went into production in 1998. In particular, it is the blue 'Classic' model variation that is the most common, meaning that you still have a great chance of finding one for yourself at a reasonable price.
If you aren't accustomed to divers from this earlier era, you should know about the size difference before purchasing. This TAG Heuer 2000 is only 38mm, considerably smaller than the 43mm divers that are popular today.
Whilst Bill's TAG Heuer was more expensive than the two Seikos, I think you'd agree it's still an affordable watch that prioritises function above prestige.