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Watches from Movies and TV You Might Have Missed

February 10, 2023

Movies and television have considerable sway over global culture and fashion. While suits and dresses are too conspicuous to miss, small accessories like watches can easily fly under the radar. It should be said that some timepieces feature prominently. There are plenty which are well known, including the Casio calculator watch from Back to the Future, the Rolex Submariner 6538 in Dr. No, the Omega Seamaster Professional in GoldenEye, the Moonwatch from Apollo 13, and the yellow gold Rolex Day-Date from Glengarry Glen Ross that "costs more than your car." I would argue the lesser-known watches of cinema deserve some attention too as often the watch a character wears is connected directly to their personality and role.

Dr. No (1962)
When you think of the first Bond watch, it's likely you think of the Rolex Submariner. Indeed, Ian Fleming stated that Bond wore a Rolex in his novels. It might surprise you then that the first Bond watch to appear on screen was a Gruen Precision 510. The Gruen can be seen clearly in the Casino scene at the start of the film. Although you may not have heard the name, Gruen was a leading American watch manufacturer producing moderately priced watches from 1908 to the
featuredblog_831955.jpg 1970s. Bond's particular Precision 510 is emblematic of its era. At only 34 millimeters in diameter, the timepiece was the ideal size for a man's watch at the time. While gold-plating is now an uncommon practice in watchmaking, the gold-plated case of the Precision 510 was typical of watches in its price range. The Gruen's classic 12-3-6-9 dial configuration was also prevalent. This understated dress watch fits Bond's formal way of living in England while the Submariner proves a logical choice for his mission in Jamaica.


Thunderball (1965)

The Submariner and Seamaster are now irreversibly entwined with James Bond. But in the 1965 film Thunderball, Bond actually wore a Breitling Top Time. The chronograph was amended to include a Geiger counter, the case receiving a bulky extension intended to hold the additional component. Interestingly, the modified Top Time plays a role in the plot; the watch was given to Bond by Q Branch to track down stolen nuclear missiles. In 2013, a Bond enthusiast found the prop which would later fetch roughly $160,000 at auction. featuredblog_831955.jpg

American Psycho (2000)

featuredblog_831955.jpg In the 2000 film American Psycho, serial killer Patrick Bateman wears a two-tone 36-millimeter Rolex Datejust on a Jubilee bracelet. Or does he? By the late 1980s, Rolexes had become popular status symbols among the so-called "yuppies" of Wall Street. The Datejust would have been fitting for a character obsessed with how he looks; the timepiece is a show of wealth which nicely complements his Valentino suits. The two-tone Datejust isn't quite the heavy hitter that is the solid gold Day-Date, which makes sense as Bateman is early in his career and preoccupied with improving his position. However, Rolex didn't want its image to suffer due to the film's graphic content, according to GQ. In actuality, Bateman most likely wears a two-tone Seiko 5 featuredblog_831955.jpg with a bracelet closely resembling the iconic Jubilee. While disappointing for some, this watch is perhaps even more fitting for his character. Bateman puts on a facade for the outside world, projecting outward wealth and normalcy despite being a hollow, animalistic killer on the inside. His watch is just another deception.

The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012)
Christopher Nolan's three Batman films comprise what is considered one of the greatest movie trilogies to have ever been made. Although less exciting than the titular character's batsuit and futuristic vehicles, the wardrobe worn by Batman's alter ego expresses tasteful elegance. Bruce Wayne takes on the arrogant manner of an indolent heir that hides his true character. The Jaeger featuredblog_831955.jpg This reference distinguishes itself with a big-date display and an impressive power reserve of eight days. The two sides of the Reverso, which can be reversed to reveal an alternate dial or caseback, has been compared to the duality of Wayne's character: he's an ostentatious billionaire by day and a hardened crimefighter by night. LeCoultre Reverso Grande Date 8 Days is a classic, understated dress watch that still exudes wealth and fits with Wayne's typically formal attire.
John Wick (2014)

John Wick is a man who lives in dark suits. His style is subtle and inconspicuous, matching his desire to live a life uninterrupted by the criminal world of his past. Yet, despite his attempts to fly under the radar, Wick finds himself in perpetual conflict, necessitating perpetual preparedness for action. Wick's watch of choice, the Carl F. Bucherer Manero Autodate, is dressy enough to featuredblog_831955.jpg complement his suits while maintaining practical functions like automatic winding and a date display. Although less known than other luxury brands, Carl F. Bucherer is a serious watchmaker with an understated style. The Manero's unpretentious 38-millimeter steel case and timeless dial are unassuming and straightforward, just like the wearer. The Manero is clearly visible several times in the three John Wick movies that have been made so far. In John Wick: Chapter 2, Carl F. Bucherer billboards are even given several seconds of screen time. It's hard to say how much the brand paid for this product placement, but it likely was not a trivial amount.

Knives Out (2019)

featuredblog_831955.jpgIn the 2019 murder mystery Knives Out, dapper detective Benoit Blanc wears what is certainly a vintage Omega. As an ambassador for the brand, Daniel Craig, the actor who portrays Blanc, is unlikely to appear in a movie wearing any other timepiece. Information about his particular watch is not readily available, so I had to do a bit of detective work myself. Using frames from the film and deleted scenes, the watch most closely resembles a 34-millimeter gold Omega Seamaster DeVille. The case and dial clearly determine that the watch is a Seamaster. However, the biggest giveaway is the barely visible dial text; featuredblog_831955.jpg the DeVille featured "DeVille" in addition to "Seamaster" at six o'clock. This stylish watch fits both Blanc's elegant wardrobe and oldtimey charm. It's logical then that Blanc would go on to wear the vintage-inspired, similarly dressy Omega Seamaster 1948 Small Seconds in the sequel. Unlike in the first film, this Seamaster is given considerable screen time.

The King's Man (2021)

The prequel to the modern Kingsman movies, The King's Man chronicles the origin of the Kingsman organization. Set around the events of World War I, British aristocrat Orlando, Duke of Oxford needs to stop a cabal of criminals from causing the deaths of millions. The JaegerLeCoultre Master Ultra Thin Kingsman Knife Watch is a fittingly elegant choice for the debonair Duke. At the time of the First World War, wristwatches were far more common among women while pocket watches were the norm for men. World War I is largely responsible for the transition featuredblog_831955.jpg from pocket watches to wristwatches for men. The intense surroundings of the trenches necessitated a practicality that the pocket watch simply couldn't provide. So-called "trench" watches came to be associated with bravery, courage, and masculinity, a significant departure from its previous feminine association. The watch in the movie takes inspiration from an ultra-thin LeCoultre pocket watch nicknamed "le couteau" (the knife) for its remarkable case. Dating back to 1907, the pocket watch is from the same era of the film. Much like the pocket watch, the Knife features a crown at twelve o'clock which sits beneath a pointed bow and large bezel. The Knife is also similar in its thinness; the Caliber 849 inside allows for an exceptional case thickness of 4.25 millimeters. While the Duke would have certainly carried a pocket watch in place of a wristwatch of this type, the film never claims to be historically accurate, taking a humorous approach to history. Anyways, the vintage-inspired Knife does the job.

The Sopranos (1999-2007)

The Sopranos is widely regarded as one of the greatest TV shows of all time. It's no surprise then that the writers gave proper attention to the timepieces their characters wear. The expensive taste of Christopher Moltisanti, protégé to New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano, reveals itself in his choice of watches. He often dons a yellow gold Pasha or Tank Française made by Cartier, a featuredblog_831955.jpg brand synonymous with luxury. Soprano himself wears a 36-millimeter yellow gold Rolex Day-Date. The intimidating Soprano, portrayed by the burly James Gandolfini, seeks therapeutic help, wrestling with his inner struggles and family problems despite what outer appearances might suggest. The watch is a fitting choice for his outward portrayal. The DayDate is emblematic of wealth and power. Only produced in precious metals, the model is considered one of Rolex's most prestigious watches and is inaccessible for most. In the show's six seasons, the timepiece is almost always on the wrist of the therapy-seeking mobster.

Mad Men (2007-2015)

Set in the '60s, this award-winning show about an advertising executive on the rise is renowned featuredblog_831955.jpg for its male fashion. Thanks to the demands of his work, the protagonist, Don Draper, practically lives in traditional formal attire. But the 1960s was a decade of radical social transformation. Draper's choice of watch mirrors this change; as the show goes on and the decade progresses, his watches grow a bit more casual. Draper goes through at least four different timepieces by the series finale. His first watch is a steel dress watch with a tuxedo dial. This was most likely a Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox, a mechanical alarm watch popular among businessmen in the '60s. After a promotion in season two, Draper buys a gold Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classique more fitting for his station. In the fourth season, Draper switches his Reverso for a Rolex Explorer on a bracelet, a far more casual watch that only just works with a suit owing to its muted colors and clean dial. From season five to the final season, Draper wears an Omega Seamaster DeVille with a black dial. While dressier than featuredblog_831955.jpg the Explorer, the Seamaster was designed to be a durable, functional timepiece that could take a beating. Even though the DeVille was a more refined version of this concept, the watch still featured the same waterproof case and automatic winding of the original Seamaster with a practical date display to boot. As a character, Draper undergoes considerable development, adapting to the freedom of the decade. His watches change with him. For a show famed for its thoughtful and elegant wardrobe, the watches in Mad Men do not disappoint.

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