The dichotomy of Communism is no better illustrated than the fact that legendary socialist revolutionaries Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and Fidel Castro both wore Rolex watches. In fact Fidel Castro wore a sport model Rolex Submariner when he overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista during the Cuban Revolution in 1959. In this image from the LIFE Magazine archives we see Submariner wearing Castro standing on the balcony of the Hilton Hotel with friends after his triumphant entry into Havana, Cuba.
His favoured timepiece however was a a no-crown guard Rolex GMT-Master 6542, although he did have a penchant for wearing two Rolex's at the same time on the same wrist, a Rolex Day Date and a Submariner as seen at the Kremlin with Khruschev.
While some might say "Communism for the masses and capitalism for the bosses", it makes sense that in 1959 and through the 1960s that Fidel Castro and Che Guevara wore their Rolex watches as sturdy tool watches, because they were precise timing instruments. Remember this was before quartz watches. Also, in the early 1960s Rolex watches were not nearly as much of a status symbol or "Luxury Watch" as they are today, they were reliable machines built for a purpose and a great ally for a soldier, sailor or pilot.
Che Guevara and Fidel Castro were fellow revolutionaries and long-time friends. After the Cuban revolution Che became the economic controller of Cuba before he took on a new mission in Bolivia. The photo below is the earliest known of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara together, and neither of them have what would later become their trademark beards. Fidel Castro was a lawyer, and Che Guevara was a doctor.
Che's Rolex of choice was an Espresso GMT Master as shown below.
The supreme irony is that Rolex became The International Mark Of Success not only in the West but in the Communist world. The father of the Chinese Communist Revolution Chairman Mao wore yellow gold Rolex watches as did Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Korean Supreme Commander. At least Che and Fidel had good taste!
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