Hollywood movies, with their worldwide popularity, have provided the staging ground for the popularity of many watch brands, some of which have gone on to achieve iconic status. Since the 1960s, when watches first started becoming a style statement in Hollywood movies, a special breed of watch lovers around the world have kept track of watches worn by leading men. Sean Connery, in his James Bond avatar, was the first of the actors who was particularly on the radar. Many of the watches he wore have become iconic. The wrist watch habits of his successors were tracked similarly, till 1995, when Omega became James Bond’s official watch supplier, with Pierce Brosnan’s Golden Eye. Omega’s high voltage worldwide promotion of its association with Bond has since meant that at least two things have remained consistent about the famed spy over the last two decades – his shaken martini and his watch brand. While Omega continues to be the most famous watch in Hollywood movies, there have been several others over the years which have acquired cult status.
BOND’S EARLY DAYS WITH ROLEX, SEIKO AND TAG HEUER
Rolex has had a long relationship with Hollywood, starting with the early Bond films. It was only natural that the early films would feature Rolex, because the man who created the character, Ian Fleming, loved his Rolex Explorer. Inevitably, the first Bond film, featuring Sean Connery, Dr No (1962) had him wearing a Rolex Submariner. This was in the pre-product placement days, and it is believed that this was Connery’s personal watch. He continued to wear variations of the Submariner in his next three films, From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965). In the last film, he also wears a Breitling Top Time in some scenes.
In 1969, when Australian actor George Lazenby took over the character, he wore both a Rolex Submariner and a Rolex Chronograph in his only Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Roger Moore, who took over as Bond in 1973, wore a Rolex Submariner in his first two movies, Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). The latter also saw him wearing a Hamilton Pulsar LED digital watch in the opening scene, in keeping with an era that saw the first of the quartz powered digital watches. In the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me, he shifts to a Rolex GMT Master,
but a Seiko 674 LC also makes an appearance in one scene, where it is used as a pager, the first Bond appearance for the Japanese brand.
Two years later, in Moonraker, he uses a rare Seiko M354, and in the next film For Your Eyes Only (1981), he is seen wearing two Seiko watches — Seiko 7549-7009 and Seiko H357 Duo Display. In Octopussy (1983), he sports the Seiko G757 Sports 100. Two years later, in his final film A View to A Kill, Rolex makes a comeback, with a Datejust. He also wears three Seiko watches in this film, including a Seiko Diver’s 150m and Seiko Chronograph. Timothy Dalton, who succeeded Moore as James Bond for the next two films, wears a TAG Heuer Professional Night-Dive in his first film, The Living Daylights (1987), and then shifts to a Rolex Submariner in License to Kill (1989).
Images: Alamy/Sean Connery wore a Rolex Submariner in Dr No (left) and From Russia with Love (above). In Thunderball (below left) besides the Rolex Submariner, he also wore a Breitling Top Time. Roger Moore, who heralded the Seiko, wore a Seiko M354 in Moonraker (below). Timothy Dalton (below right) wore a TAG Heuer Professional Night-Dive in The Living Daylights.
Pierce Brosnan’s arrival as James Bond in 1995, with Goldeneye, heralded Omega’s long reign in Bond films, after it became the official watch partner of the movie franchise. He wore a Omega Seamaster Professional 300M in the first film, and followed it up with variations of the watch in his next three, Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002). Daniel Craig made his debut as Bond in 2006 with Casino Royale, where he wears a Omega Seamaster Diver 300M, followed by a Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M in Quantum of Solace (2008) and Skyfall (2012). In the most recent Spectre (2015), he wears an Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra in the opening scene, before shifting to the Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre. Besides the Bond films, the Omega Speedmaster made a memorable appearance on the wrists of the astronauts Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Banks in Apollo 13 (1995). It was, of course a faithful reproduction of the fact that the original three astronauts in the doomed Apollo 13 mission in 1970 also wore Omega Speedmasters, the original moonwatch.
Pierce Brosnan wore a Omega Seamaster Professional 300M in Goldeneye, and Daniel Craig (above) a Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M in Skyfall.
SEIKO, BEYOND BOND
Like Rolex, Seiko also had a long run in Hollywood. Among its most memorable appearances was in the James Cameron classic Aliens (1986), where Sigourney Weaver wears a Seiko Giugiaro 7A28-7000 in the spaceship while hunting down the aliens. Because of the fame the watch got in the movie, it has since been reissued by Seiko. Another noteworthy Seiko appearance
was two years earlier, in the hit comedy Ghostbusters (1984), which featured Dan Aykroyd wearing a Seiko M516-4009 ‘Voice Note’, and using its then very modern eightsecond message recording facility. Other notable Seiko movie appearances include in the classic Apocalypse Now (1979), where Martin Sheen is seen wearing a Seiko 6105, and the Seiko H558 on the wrist of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator (1987).
Sigourney Weaver with her Seiko Giugiaro 7A28-7000
in Aliens (top), and Arnold Schwarzenegger (above) with a Seiko H558 in Predator
ROLEX IN OTHER FILMS
Besides the 11 Bond films, Rolex has been among the most widely used watch brands in movies over the years. Among the more noticed were Michael Caine’s Datejust in Get Carter (1971), Alec Baldwin’s Oyster Perpetual in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), Christian Bale’s Rolex Datejust in American Psycho (2000), and more recently Ben Affleck’s Deepsea Dweller in Argo (2012).
Ben Affleck’s Rolex Deepsea Dweller in Argo, and Christian Bale’s Rolex Datejust in American Psycho
TAG Heuer’s most visible presence in a movie was on the wrist of the very stylish Steve McQueen, who wore a then little known Heuer Monaco in Le Mans, the 1971 movie on the 24 hour endurance race in France. Though the movie was not a big success when it was first released, it has gone on to become a cult classic. And because ofMcQueen’s innate sense of style, the Monaco has since gone on to become one of the world’s most famous watches.
One of the most enduring relationships between a Hollywood star and a watch brand has been between Sylvester Stallone and Panerai, one which is generally credited with the Italian luxury watchmaker becoming a worldwide name. The story is that Sylvester Stallone, then at the height of his fame, spotted a Panerai Luminor in a Rome jewellery store while filming his 1996 film Daylight in that city. He liked it very much, and wore it in the movie. He also had the brand make 200 watches in a limited range, called Panerai Luminor Slytech, with his signature engraved on the back. He distributed the watches to his film crew and friends. He gave one in a very public ceremony to buddy and business partner Arnold Schwarzenegger in September 1996, at the opening party in Berlin for Planet Hollywood, the restaurant they jointly owned. It was done publicly and in full view of the paparazzi, the pictures of which were splashed around the world. Overnight, Panerai became a big name in the world of= luxury watches. Schwarzenegger also fell in love, and wore it in his 1996 film Eraser. Stallone, on his part, has continued his romance with Panerai, onscreen and off, wearing the watch in several of his subsequent films as well as in public appearances. He wore a PreA9 Luminor Base and a Pre V 5218-202A Luminor Marina Militare in the 4th edition of Rambo, which was released in 2008. In all three The Expendables movies released so far, he and the entire cast are seen wearing Panerais. In The Expendables (2010), the entire crew is wearing the PAM 332 Luminor 1950 Regatta Rattrapante. In The Expendables 2 (2012), they wore the Panerai PAM 382 Luminor 1950 Bronze, and in The Expendables 3 (2014), it was the PAM 389 Luminor Submersible 1950 Antimagnetic.
In keeping with the era when digital watches had begun to catch the fancy of the world, Casio made an unforgettable appearance in the cult classic Back to the Future in 1985. Marty McFly, played with aplomb by Michael J Fox, wears a Casio CA53W Twincept Databank Calculator watch, which in the pre-mobile phone days was a big deal, since it had an 8-digit calculator, a 1/100 second stopwatch, auto calendar and alarm. Among Casio’s other important appearances was on the wrist of Walter Sobchak, who memorably played ‘The Dude’s’ foil in the classic Big Lebowski (1998). He wears a Casio DW-5900.
Jaeger-LeCoultre has had a very visible run in films in recent times, most recently in Doctor Strange (2016) where Benedict Cumberbatch’s character Dr. Stephen Strange is seen wearing a Master Ultra Thin Perpetual. But its bigger prominence was in the Batman movies. The Reverso Grande Taille was on the wrist of Val Kilmer when he played the character in the 1995 film Batman Forever. Christian Bale wore variations of the same watch in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008). In the The Dark Knight Rises (2012) he was provided with the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931.
Benedict Cumberbatch with his Master Ultra Thin Perpetual, and Christian Bale wearing a Reverso Grande Taille in the Batman franchise