Silver Screen's Timepieces, The Impact of Watches in Cinema

Watches have played memorable roles in films, becoming icons in their own right. From James Bond's Omega Seamaster to the classic TAG Heuer Monaco worn by Steve McQueen, these timepieces define characters, underscore pivotal moments, and even influence fashion and consumer trends. 

Silver Screen's Timepieces, The Impact of Watches in Cinema

There are few things I enjoy quite as much as settling down to a great movie. The issue I have, and I may not be alone here, is that I can't keep my eyes open till the end. My wife thrives off trying to keep me awake until the end, often throwing things or swiping with an elbow. The truth is, it’s usually not a reflection of the quality of the story – more just my innate ability to sleep anywhere (one of my few skills). But that’s a side note! The team and I have been thinking about movies and watches this week. It is true that many thousands of watches a year are sold as a direct result of their presence in movies, often stealing the limelight in pivotal moments.

Watches in cinema often serve as more than just time-telling devices; they can symbolise character traits, plot points, or the thematic essence of a movie. The connection between a character and their watch can sometimes be so strong that it transcends the screen and influences both watch aficionados and the general public, significantly impacting the watch industry. Here are a few notable examples of how watches have become linked with cinematic characters, the subsequent collaborations, and their impacts.

Dr. No (1962), Rolex Submariner 6538 - Sean Connery wore the Rolex Submariner 6538 in the first James Bond film. However, since 1995's GoldenEye, Omega has been Bond's choice, starting with the Seamaster Professional 300M. 

No Time To Die (2021), Omega Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition - Continuing the tradition of James Bond wearing Omega since 1995, Daniel Craig's last outing as 007 in No Time To Die featured a special 007 edition of the Omega Seamaster. 

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar - In this sequel to the iconic Wall Street, Shia LaBeouf's character, Jacob Moore, wears an IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar. The choice of the Portuguese, known for its refined and classic design, perfectly complements his role as a young, ambitious Wall Street trader. I even had a poster on my wall simply because I loved the watch so much. 

Le Mans (1971), TAG Heuer Monaco - In the 1971 film Le Mans, Steve McQueen sported a TAG Heuer Monaco, which has since become an emblem of cool and rugged masculinity. McQueen's powerful screen presence helped elevate this distinctive square-cased watch to legendary status within both the film and watch industries.

American Psycho (2000), Rolex Datejust - Christian Bale’s character, Patrick Bateman, mentions his Rolex Datejust, which fits perfectly with his meticulous, polished, and outwardly successful persona.

Apollo 13 (1995), Omega Speedmaster - The Omega Speedmaster, known as the "Moonwatch," was crucial in the safe return of the Apollo 13 crew. This real-life usage was prominently featured in the film Apollo 13, enhancing the Speedmaster's heritage as a reliable and historic timepiece, pivotal in a critical moment of space exploration.

John Wick (2014), Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph - Although not prominently highlighted, it's reported that Keanu Reeves’s character, John Wick, wears a Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chrongraph. 

Tenet (2020), Hamilton Khaki Navy BeLOWZERO - Christopher Nolan's film Tenet featured the Hamilton Khaki Navy BeLOWZERO, customized with a red-tipped seconds hand to match the movie’s color scheme. This particular model fits well into the time-bending narrative of the film. Hamilton has a history of collaborating with Nolan, including the "Murph" watch from Interstellar.

The Bourne Legacy (2012), IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition Top Gun - Jeremy Renner, playing the lead role of Aaron Cross, wears an IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition Top Gun. I have one and love it. 

Crazy Rich Asians (2018), Patek Philippe Aquanaut: In this film, several characters are seen wearing notable watches, including a close-up moment of a vintage Rolex Paul Newman Daytona. This was a must-watch just for the watch game. 

Ocean’s Thirteen (2007), IWC Portuguese - Brad Pitt's character, Rusty Ryan, sports an IWC Portuguese in this third instalment of the "Ocean’s" series. The film focuses on high-stakes casino heists, and Ryan’s choice of watch adds an extra layer of suave sophistication to his already slick persona.

Squid Game (2021), Casio A168WA-1 - Although not a movie, the influence of this Korean series on global pop culture warrants a mention. The Casio A168WA-1 worn by the characters became instantly recognizable and saw a surge in sales after the series aired.

Doctor Strange (2016), Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar - It’s up there with the most complicated horological heat on show in this list, Benedict Cumberbatch wore it well in his role as the sorcerer for the seventh time in Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, just as it did in his first outing as the master of the mystic arts in 2016’s Doctor Strange.

Avengers: Endgame (2019), G-Shock DW-5600E-1V - In the blockbuster movie Avengers: Endgame, Tony Stark (Iron Man) played by Robert Downey Jr., wears a Casio G-Shock DW-5600E-1V. Although it’s a brief appearance, the rugged and practical style of the G-Shock fits well with the technological and tough nature of Stark's character.

Collateral (2004), IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XV - Tom Cruise’s character, Vincent, wears an IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XV in this thriller where he plays a contract killer. The watch is fitting for his character, reflecting both the functional necessity and the cool demeanour required for his nightly tasks across Los Angeles.

Marathon Man (1976), Rolex GMT Master: Dustin Hoffman’s character wears a Rolex GMT Master, a watch that suits his character's evolution through the tense thriller.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), Patek Philippe Ellipse - Pierce Brosnan’s character, a wealthy and suave art thief, wears a Patek Philippe Ellipse, a choice that underscores his sophisticated and refined tastes.

Following these cinematic appearances, several watch brands have actively pursued collaborations with film studios to create special edition models such as Omega's 007 Editions. Omega has released multiple special edition watches tied to the release of new James Bond movies, like the Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition for No Time To Die. These editions typically feature design elements that nod to the espionage theme and often include innovative materials and gadget-inspired functions. Hamilton and Interstellar: The Hamilton Khaki Field Murph was prominently featured in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and became so popular that Hamilton decided to issue a special edition. The watch includes the word "Eureka" printed in Morse code on the second hand, echoing a pivotal plot point. Then there is Jaeger-LeCoultre and Batman. JLC created a special edition Reverso watch inscribed with the Batman logo for the movie The Dark Knight Rises. That’s a flex.