We have compiled our favourite watch cameos in movies and television. These are the timepieces that glow from the silver screen and have been used as filmic devices to characterise without words.
Beyond James Bond’s Omega sneaking out the side of a crisp suit or a sponsored Rolex, these are the wristwatches in movies and television that have been used innovatively, with meaning going deeper than style.
At LARSEN & ERIKSEN we think of the watch as more than an accessory. For us, the watch is one of the few items worn every day that extends our identity into design. Similarly, for these film and television characters, their watch choices are reflections of their ambitions, their priorities, their era and their ancestry.
“Gentlemen, synchronize your watches,” says the titular Mr. Fox from Wes Anderson’s stop-motion masterpiece. In addition to the awe-inspiring detail of the watches set against the different animal furs, these watch choices provide humorous commentary on each character. The beaver wears a Chesterton Perpetual, the mole a Time-Date digital, Mr. Fox has a Seiko-style Calculator Watch and the lawyer badger uses a pocket watch. And, in a tongue-in-cheek moment that could be easily missed, the field mouse wears a Field Accurate wristwatch.
Don Draper’s watch choices over Mad Men’s 7 seasons provide a timeline of the timepiece’s development over the 1950s and 1960s - the period that spans the television show’s arc. In season one, Draper wears a Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox with a replacement ‘Tuxedo’ style dial. A Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso was the focus watch of the second season. In season four, Draper uses a Rolex Explorer with a stainless steel bracelet and black dial. An Omega Seamaster De Ville is his choice in the sixth season and this 1966 edition has a black dial and a date indicator at 3 o’clock. With advertising agent Draper as emblematic of the man-about-town of this era, each of his watch choices was naturally at the forefront of the marketplace of their time.
LARSEN & ERIKSEN’s favorite movie from the wristwatch heavy action film genre is Drive by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. “Anything that happens in that five minutes and I’m yours,” says Ryan Gosling’s unnamed stuntman/getaway driver character. It’s the tick of his gold Patek Philippe watch that sets the pace of the film. In the much-loved opening scene, he straps the watch to his steering wheel and waits alert for the robbers he is helping escape. Nowhere is time as the source of a movie’s thrill more stylishly on display.
In the iconic Pulp Fiction’s scene now simply known as ‘The Gold Watch’, Christopher Walken’s Captain Koons visits a young Butch Coolidge to deliver him his dead father’s watch. Pulp Fiction seemingly presents the classic story of the watch as legacy and hand-me-down in the way that the best designs still are. Yet as Walken’s captivating monologue hits the 3-minute mark it morphs into director Quentin Tarantino’s oeuvre, with disturbing dark humour taking centre-stage. The scene has been subject to much re-interpretation and parody. Prior to the launch of the Apple Watch, a Pulp Fiction fan made a Youtube video that comically swapped out the aged gold family heirloom for the stark Apple Watch design.
Sigourney Weaver’s alien-slaying Ripley character in the Alien franchise has elevated two watch designs into movie iconography. In Ridley Scott’s 1979 original Alien, set in the year 2122, the watch design prophesied the future of timepiece design: two Casio watch faces joined together by orange rubber. The watch used to make the prop was the Casio F-100. Today, there are many online tutorials for building your own double-faced design. Some even require a 3D printer to perfectly recreate the science fiction look.
In James Cameron’s 1986 follow-up Aliens, Ripley swaps her elaborate CASIO for a Seiko Giugiaro 7A28-7000. Seiko created the watches specifically for the film in collaboration with Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaroto. Giugiaroto designed the classic cars Lotus Esprit and the De Lorean DMC 12. The film’s watch model uses a standard chronograph face, however on the right-hand side of the dial is a futurist panel with the stopwatch pushers placed inside, creating an asymmetrical style. In addition to Ripley, Seiko watches are worn by all of the movie’s main characters and the unique designs have become collector’s items for fans of the film series.