French President Emmanuel Macron was caught on camera stealthily removing a luxury watch from his wrist during a debate over raising the age limit for pensioners.
The awkward incident was observed Friday during an interview with a French TV news program, where Macron, 45, appeared to have suddenly realized he was wearing the watch when he clanked it on the table.
The French president proceeded to put his hands under the table, then his left wrist magically reappeared sans the fancy watch.
News of the amazing disappearing watch trick went viral on social media, with some claiming the watch was worth upwards of $80,000.
However, keen internet investigators combed over old Macron social media posts and found the watch was a $2,400.00 BR V1-92 BLACK STEEL produced by Paris-based manufacturer Bell & Ross.
A Newsweek fact-check Friday claimed Macron removed the watch because of the loud clank it made when his hands hit the table.
As for the president discreetly removing the watch during the interview, the explanation appears to be rather prosaic: As Macron waved his hand the watch banged loudly against the table, and so was removed to prevent the noise from being picked up by sensitive microphones (the noise can be heard in all the clips with the original sound left in place).
In a statement to L’Independant, the Élysée Palace confirmed as much, stating that, translated from French, “the President does not take off his watch for the sake of hiding it but because he had just banged it loudly against the table. The noise is clearly audible just seconds before the start of the video shared on social media.”
The claims about the value of the item were also addressed in the official response.
“Contrary to what is said on social networks too, this watch obviously does not cost €80,000. The price is public and Bell and Rose is a manufacturer that has partnerships with many institutions including the army and the GSPR (group Security of the President of the Republic) which ensures the security of the President,” the Élysée responded.
Scrutiny over the French president’s vanishing timepiece comes as the French government without a parliamentary vote last week announced a raise of the retirement age from 62 to 64 causing massive demonstrations across the country where hundreds were arrested.