Does Tom Wambsgans’ watch upgrade hint at his future in succession?

In inheritance, clothes matter. In a world obsessed with appearance, the clothing and accessories worn by moneyed characters are always used to convey their status. Look at Shiv’s radical power suit, or Tom asking his cousin Greg in season one if he was, “talking to each other on the aft deck of a majestic caravan?” , confusingly, he was wearing deck shoes.

So the new image of Tom Wambsgans (Matthew MacFadyen) upgrading his watch while filming season four is not to be overlooked, especially considering where we took a hiatus last season. When we last saw Tom, he was sticking a knife in his wife, Shiv, for taking their father’s side and selling her and the other Roy boys out. In the third season finale, “All the Bells Say,” Tom appears as Judas after learning that he was warning his father-in-law of the coup his children were planning.

While photos of him strolling around Manhattan show him making what appears to be a tense phone call, it’s Tom’s new timepiece that really does the talking here, trading in his old Cartier Santos for a new Audemars Piguet.

There is definitely a correlation between the watch you wear and the corporate ladder you climb, as Tom allegedly wore a fake Cartier Blue Balloon in the early seasons. Fanatics of the show will remember the importance of Tom wearing a watch as he tried to impress Logan with a Patek Philippe as a birthday present, only for it to be carelessly passed on to a young child as part of Roman’s botched wager.

Season three saw him upgrade to Cartier Santos on screen, which fits in perfectly with the story of Shiv wearing pants during their marriage: Shiv wears Cartier (she alternates between two Panthères, one in yellow and the other in white metal) so Tom must wear Cartier. In the wider family power stakes, there is absolutely no shame in wearing Cartier Santos, but compared to any of Kendall’s limited edition Vacheron Constantin Harmony Mono-Pusher Chronographs, Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle World Time or Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A Depending on which side of the bed he gets up from, he has absolutely no bragging rights.

Cartier Santos is widely known for being the first ever tool watch, as Tom himself is considered a tool. But given the thrilling season three finale, is Tom’s place in the family business suddenly as secure as an oak tree? Or more specifically, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Chronograph, the very watch he was spotted wearing while filming Season 4 in New York. This immediately begs the question, what does this say about Shiv and Tom’s marriage? There’s no doubt that Tom wearing the AP RO proves he’s up in the stakes, but the question is for how long?

In short, does this mean that season four will show Tom moving further into the inner sanctum of power and solidifying his position at Logan? Perhaps. When asked by GQ if it would be more fun to play the villainous version of Tom in season four, McFadden calmly said, “Whatever they give me, I’m in.”