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11/03/2020
 5 minutes

Watch Icons of the Silver Screen

By Jorg Weppelink
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Watch Icons of the Silver Screen

This year has obviously not been the year we all expected or hoped for. With the COVID-19 pandemic still very present globally, we are all spending much more time at home than we would probably like to, but that also means there’s more time for catching up on series and films. Do you ever find yourself paying attention to the watches featured in different blockbusters? Here’s our list of recommended movies for watch enthusiasts. Each of these films either includes timepieces in the storyline or features them visually in some way.

James Bond Series: Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster

Unfortunately, the new Bond film, No Time to Die, has been postponed yet again. It’s now looking likely that it will be released in Spring 2021. This gives you plenty of time to check out all the previous Bond films and peruse their iconic watches. I have previously written about the different Bond watches here. In short, however, the history of Bond watches comes down to Rolex versus Omega.

Vintage Rolex Submariner Ref. 6538, ca. 1958
Vintage Rolex Submariner Ref. 6538, ca. 1958

Sean Connery was the first actor to play Bond in the 1962 film Dr. No. He wore an early Rolex Submariner ref. 6538. There is some controversy around this watch choice, as many people argue that Ian Fleming was referring to a Rolex Explorer instead of a Submariner in the original novels. Nevertheless, Connery transformed the Submariner into the original Bond watch. He wore it in all of his other Bond films. Subsequent Bond actors George Lazenby and Roger Moore stayed loyal to the Rolex Submariner, although Moore also wore quite a few modified Seiko watches.

Although Timothy Dalton wore a TAG Heuer in The Living Daylights, he changed back to a Rolex Submariner in License to Kill. This was the last time James Bond wore a Rolex on screen. As soon as Pierce Brosnan took over as Bond, the famous secret agent made the switch to Omega watches. Brosnan wore the Omega Seamaster Professional 300M in all four of his Bond films. The first was a quartz version, but the latter three were self-winding models.

Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre Limited Edition
Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre Limited Edition

When Daniel Craig took over as James Bond, 007’s watch selection expanded. He wore an updated Co-Axial Seamaster Professional 300M in Casino Royale as well as a Seamaster Planet Ocean. He stuck with the Planet Ocean in his two subsequent films, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall, but changed the specific model. In Spectre, on the other hand, Bond wore the limited edition Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre. In the upcoming film No Time to Die, Bond wears a spectacular special edition of the latest Seamaster Professional 300M.

Apollo 13: Omega Speedmaster

If there is one film on this list you can’t miss, it’s Apollo 13. The 1995 blockbuster is based on the story of NASA’s Apollo XIII mission. The biggest star of the film is without a doubt the Omega Speedmaster.

On April 11, 1970, astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise set out on their mission to set foot on the Moon; however, the oxygen tank in the service module failed due to an explosion and the astronauts had to abort their lunar landing two days into the mission. Without getting into too many technical details about the astronauts’ journey – you really should just watch the movie – the Omega Speedmaster played a pivotal role in their safe return.

In order to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere, the men needed to use the main engine for exactly 14 seconds. The digital timers on the spacecraft failed to work, meaning Jack Swigert had to time the crucial 14 seconds with his Omega Speedmaster while Jim Lovell steered the spacecraft using the horizon as his guide. The three men returned safely to Earth on April 17th, 1970 thanks to the Speedmaster. Despite knowing how the story ends, the film is a must-see if you like watches.

The Batman Trilogy: Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso

Batman movies can be divided into two eras. The first includes the films made by Joel Schumacher in the 1980s. I’m not a huge fan of those, but Christopher Nolan directed a much darker, grittier, and simply better Batman trilogy in the 2000s. In his role as billionaire Bruce Wayne, Christian Bale wore a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso in all three of the Dark Knight movies. This classy watch is the perfect timepiece for a man of his standing.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grande Taille
Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grande Taille

In the first two films, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne wears a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grande Taille. In the third and final film, The Dark Knight Rises, Wayne wears a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Grande Date. Not only is the Reverso a great classic watch choice, it also matches the character’s two-part persona.

As most of you probably know, the Reverso gets its name from the fact that its case flips over to protect the crystal. Originally designed for polo matches, you can simply flip the case so the case back faces outwards, protecting the delicate crystal from impacts. This two-sided design is also a great representation of the duality of Bruce Wayne and Batman, making the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso the perfect choice for this trilogy.

Le Mans: Heuer Monaco

This list would not be complete without mentioning the classic 1971 film Le Mans featuring Steve McQueen. This movie made the Heuer Monaco into an icon. The Heuer Monaco was first introduced in 1969. It wasn’t an instant success, but once Steve McQueen wore it in the box office hit, the tides turned.

TAG Heuer Monaco
TAG Heuer Monaco

The tale behind the selection of the watch is where the real story begins. Don Nunley, the Le Mans Property Master, was responsible for selecting all of the film’s props. Nunley presented multiple watches from Tissot, Omega, Bulova, Rolex, and Heuer to McQueen. As the story goes, McQueen initially preferred an Omega, but Nunley said he had already chosen a racing suit with a Heuer patch on it. He pointed out that McQueen’s character Michael Delaney probably wouldn’t wear an Omega watch if his suit had a Heuer patch on it. That instantly shifted McQueen’s focus to the four Heuer watches on offer. Of the four, he chose the square Monaco with its characteristic blue dial and white subdials.

A total of six Monacos were used during filming. One disappeared immediately, one was actually worn by McQueen in the movie (on a black strap), and the other four were kept as back-ups in case something happened to McQueen’s watch. Nunley kept one as a so-called “hero timepiece” to be used in PR shots and movie stills. This ensured the watch was absolutely pristine and clearly recognizable as a Heuer Monaco, which isn’t hard considering the iconic shape and color scheme!

This is just a small selection of the many movies that feature great watches. Browse your streaming service of choice to find more films featuring iconic watches and send your recommendations our way!

Read more

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Five Tips for Becoming a Watch Collector

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About the Author

Jorg Weppelink

Hi, I'm Jorg, and I've been writing articles for Chrono24 since 2016. However, my relationship with Chrono24 goes back a bit longer, as my love for watches began …

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